Traveling the globe is more than Darley Newman’s passion—it’s also her job. In the past two years, the Bethesda resident has been away from her apartment, family and friends for a total of about six months, traveling to places including the French Alps, Hong Kong and the Guadeloupe Islands as the star and brains behind Travels with Darley, which has aired on PBS since 2016.
It may appear that Newman has the ultimate dream job—traveling all over the globe and eating and exploring with local residents who serve as her guide. But travel is just part of her job. When Newman returns to Bethesda, working on the show still consumes her days. Newman is more than the face of Travels with Darley; she also writes and edits episodes and makes travel arrangements—choosing the destinations, finding local residents to serve as guides and discovering things to do while on location.
“I do a lot on the shows—I’ll even pick out the music—I’m super hands on,” Newman said during a recent interview in 202 Donuts & Coffee on Fairmont Avenue in downtown Bethesda.
In addition to her current PBS show, Newman also runs the website equitrekking.com, and she wrote, produced and hosted a show of the same name, which aired on PBS for six seasons beginning in 2007. Travels With Darley is airing on Maryland Public Television at 11 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Equitrekking, which takes viewers horseback riding around the globe, is a three-time Emmy Award-winning public television travel series that Newman has transitioned into a full-time blog and business, offering tools to help viewers plan their own inspired vacations. Equitrekking led Newman to the idea for Travels with Darley, in which Newman covers food, culture and adventure while continuing to go horseback riding from time to time.
“It’s been really busy—which is good,” Newman, 39, says. “Right now, we go on the road again in three weeks. Once we start filming, we’ll be filming through the fall. We bounce around—for example, we’ll go to France for two weeks and come back—in the time that we are back, we are planning out shoots and editing content and running the other stuff that we work on as well like Equitrekking.”
Her newest show takes viewers on a journey guided by a passionate local resident who provides insights unknown to the average tourist. Newman finds her guides through a network of people she’s developed during her years of traveling. The locals are typically experts on the area she’s exploring.
“My address book has notes in it of destinations that I search for now,” Newman says. “If I talk to someone, like I talked to someone yesterday that was telling me they always go to Toledo, Spain, and they are kind of an expert on that—so I was like, I’m marking you down under Toledo now and when we go there, you’ll probably get a call from me.”
Newman and her husband, Chip Ward, and Greg Barna and Chad Davis form the four-person production crew of DCN Creative, a Washington, D.C., multimedia production company that produced Equitrekking and now produces Travels With Darley. The crew has filmed more than 30 episodes of the show, which can be found online at travelswithdarley.com along with itineraries of Newman’s trips. The crew spends around five days at a location that will be featured in an episode. Newman said those few days are jam-packed with filming interviews and adventures, but she tries to make the most of her travels.
“The nature of being somewhere you might never get to go again, you really want to take advantage of that,” Newman says.
When she’s not traveling, she’s spending time with friends and family in the Bethesda area. She’s had to learn how to balance her time between work and doing the other things she loves like running, biking and horseback riding.
“There’s a balance to it, but I definitely need to take a [proper] vacation though,” Newman says. “I love [my job], it’s so fun, but it’s definitely a lot of work.”
Picking just one place to revisit is difficult for her—mostly because she’d want to go back to every place she’s been.
“Every place surprises me in some way,” Newman says. “We were just in the Finger Lakes and that area surprised me. I knew there was a lot to do, but I didn’t really have an accurate image of what it would be like. I’ve seen pictures of the lakes and I know it looks beautiful, but there we did a lot of different things that people can do, like visiting Mark Twain’s study and we went down to the Finger Lakes National Forest and there’s a place where you can learn about the history of the Women’s Suffrage, called Queens Castle. So there were areas that surprised me. I knew it would be interesting, but I wasn’t expecting that level.”
As for the future of Travels with Darley, Newman has only scratched the surface of places she wants to visit and ways she wants to show off her travels. She’s looking into incorporating virtual reality and 360-degree video into her travels to provide a more immersive experience for viewers, which can be found on the website.
“I have such a list,” Newman says. “This year we are going to pick up some places that I think people would be like, ‘Why did they film there?’ and I love that because I think that every place has a good story and something interesting about it. Even just knowing, if you could do a road trip through this place, why would you want to stop here and what is it like for the folks in this area? I think that’s so interesting.”