Moving cattle with cowboys in Uruguay. Getting charged by an elephant in Botswana. Sampling local cuisine, well, everywhere. It's all in a day's work for Darley Newman, the Emmy Award-nominated host/writer/producer of the PBS show Equitrekking. Earlier this year, Travels with Darley debuted on PBS after a successful run as a web series on AOL and Amazon, among other outlets. The episodes take her from Belgium to the Guadalupe Islands to the American South, where she connects with locals and introduces viewers to their cultures. Here, she reveals her pre-flight routine, the most romantic meal she's ever eaten, and more.
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Aisle or window?
For a short flight, aisle. Long-haul, window.
Check or carry-on?
Carry-on, unless I’m on a longer film shoot, then definitely check.
What electronics or gadgets do you always pack and why?
When traveling for fun, I bring my iPhone for photos and videos, along with a RAVPower Portable Charger. I pack my laptop, so I can write during the trip and keep a journal. Even though my iPhone has one, I also bring a travel alarm clock from L.L. Bean.
Favorite souvenir from your travels?
A gaucho belt from Uruguay. After moving cattle with gauchos (cowboys), I truly appreciated their style, which mixes functionality with distinctive designs.
What is the most romantic destination you've visited?
Botswana's remote Makgadikgadi Pans mix romance and exotic adventures. Days may be spent watching the annual zebra and wildebeest migration, meeting meerkats, horseback riding, or taking a jeep safari. The site of an ancient lake the size of Switzerland that has since dried up, the Pans are remote, wild, and unusual. They resemble the surface of the moon and offer the best sunsets, sunrises, and stargazing. I saw countless shooting stars on my trip. We stayed in Camp Kalahari and also visited Jack's Camp, a luxury, classic safari camp nestled amid tall palm trees on the edge of the Pans. The large, plush tents come complete with Persian carpets atop hardwood floors, and there's even a museum.
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Most romantic hotel?
Castle Leslie in Ireland tops my list. Located less than a two-hour drive from Dublin and just an hour from Belfast, this family-owned, eccentric castle has 20 bedrooms, which are individually decorated with priceless antiques, heirlooms, art, rich colors, and large soaking tubs. The décor alone is worth the trip! Castle Leslie is well known for its weddings, including Paul McCartney's 2002 wedding to Heather Mills, and the list of famous guests includes WB Yeats, Bono, Prince Pierre of Monaco, and Mick Jagger. The property also has a Victorian spa, an equestrian center, two restaurants, and the chance to partake in country sports like falconry, clay pigeon shooting, and fishing.
Most romantic meal?
L'air du Temps in Namur, Belgium is a two-star Michelin restaurant set on an old farmstead amid the Belgian countryside on its own organic farm. Korean-born and Belgian-raised chef Sang Hoon Diegiembre cooks up multiple courses combining art and science for the tastiest and most surprising of meals. The restaurant is sectioned off into small rooms within the main building, lending a more intimate feel. And if you've eaten so much that you need a nap, there are also five rooms right on site.
How do you prepare for a long flight?
I load my iPhone with any and all movies and TV shows I need to catch up on and binge on those during my time in the air. I also make sure I've downloaded any work I can do offline and will occasionally buy WiFi on the flight. I bring a ton of water, a main meal, and extra snacks, ranging from granola bars to a banana to Cheez-its to gummy bears, a mix of wholesome and savory goodness, because I normally don't love airline food. I wear comfortable layers and pack an extra pair of socks, hand sanitizer, lip balm, an inflatable travel pillow, and external chargers in case the plug at my seat is not working. Then I try to relax and sleep so I can be ready to explore once I land.
What are your tips for planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip?
Once you've pinpointed the location, ask friends and family if they have travel and hotel recommendations since personal referrals are always helpful. Research, research, research, but also consider using a travel agent with expertise in that area, especially if it's complicated to reach, like some places in Africa that require multiple charter flights. Many travel agents are regularly traveling to the destinations they book, so have insight that can save you time, money, and a headache. And if you can stay in locally owned or run B&Bs or safari camps, their local knowledge can really help enhance your trip and make you feel more like a local than a traveler. Finally, search for guidebooks and online, but also works of fiction and non-fiction related to the destination. It's a fun way to get a greater sense of the location before your trip. For instance, if you're heading on an African safari, read Peter Allison's Whatever You Do Don't Run. You will be laughing out loud.
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What camera do you recommend?
The latest iPhone takes really great images and nice video. To go up a level or for pros, try the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, which we've taken all over the world and works in even the harshest of environments. GoPros are great for active adventures, especially biking, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting.
What are your go-to travel apps?
Waze is a favorite, but note that it doesn't work well everywhere yet, so Google maps or renting a native GPS can be helpful. I like Kayak and Hotel Tonight for last-minute bookings; setting a fare alert through Kayak can save you money. Speak and Translate is great for international travels since you can use your voice or text to get translations and actually hear them back for better pronunciation.
What are your in-flight beauty tips?
Hydrate from the inside out and try to sleep if it's a long flight. I always bring a big bottle of water along with face wipes, either a full or mini toothbrush, deodorant, lip balm, and hand sanitizer. Near the end of the flight, add on some concealer and lip-gloss as needed for an extra boost.
How do you fight jet lag?
Try to get as much rest on the flight as you can. When I arrive, I usually shower, either take a power nap or power through the day, depending on the time change, and get into the groove of the trip basically. I'll definitely walk around and start sampling the food and drinks!
Where are you going next?
We're filming all summer long for our new series, Travels with Darley. Locations range from the American West to Asia. Stay tuned!