Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Passport Required
Meet The Man Using "Mystery Trips" To Expose More Black People To Adventure Travel
“I got tired of going out into the world and feeling like a unicorn.” That was the reason Darnell Walker started his brand Passport Required.
The Charlottesville, Virginia native is no stranger to travel. As a kid, his parents often put him on a plane to visit relatives around the United States. He always told himself that once he made his own money, he wanted to keep his momentum for travel going. And that’s exactly what he did.
His first international trip was to the Bahamas. He enjoyed it so much that he decided to take things up a notch. He randomly decided to purchase a one-way flight to Belgium. What made it life-changing is that with only a backpack in tow, he challenged himself to travel as far as he could around Europe while spending no more than $100.
“During that trip, I ended up getting to five countries by backpacking and hitchhiking,” Darnell told Travel Noire.
He also used the time to create an original documentary where he interviewed Black people about their reason for leaving the United States. Once he returned home, he edited the documentary and released it. It caught the attention of people in South Africa and he was later asked to visit. Shortly thereafter, he made South Africa his home.
Darnell spent 3 years in South Africa before receiving an offer for his dream job back in NYC.
“The more I traveled, the more I didn’t see people like me. People would also tell me “you travel like white people” since there aren’t a lot of Black people into adventure travel. I wanted to bring more of us into this space. This is for us too.”
In 2015, Passport Required was created.
Passport Required isn’t your average group travel company. Darnell plans a trip on his own and then invites strangers to come along with him by simply signing up and paying the listed price. The catch is, trip goers don’t know the destination until 5 days before they are set to leave and they are only allowed to travel with one backpack.
In its short existence, the brand has visited over 40 countries including Brazil, Colombia, South Africa, Thailand, and Malaysia. The trips range in price from $400 to $1200, which includes airfare and lodging and last between 4-7 days.
Darnell has taken as many as 13 people on a trip but prefers to max it out at 8.
“I love to travel and it’s a way to bring others along with me,” Darnell said. “While social media is where I announce my trips, I’ve had most people sign up by word of mouth. That’s the best because they know exactly what to expect once they sign up.”
Many of the trips do require a stay in a hostel, something that many first-timers are initially hesitant about. But, once they experience it with Darnell’s group they find that they actually enjoy it.
“I’ve had people tell me that after one of our trips they decided to book a hostel stay on their own.”
In 2020, the group will travel at least once a month. The next open trip is for February. Darnell will add a few extra perks for future trips including travel gear, a traveling videographer, as well as more excursions.
To learn more about Passport Required or to sign up for the next trip, you can find them on IG at @passportreq, on Facebook at Passport Required, and Twitter. Or, simply head to the website: www.passportrequired.com.