Just like a sommelier pairs fine wines with great food, Darren Humphreys, the founder and owner of Travel Sommelier, plays matchmaker with your travel plans. An expert in luxury safari and bespoke wine tourism, Darren cultivated a thirst for travel early (literally—he had his first sip of Guinness in Ireland as a kid!). He knows what it’s like to travel with a big budget or a small one, harkening back to a time when he once pitched a tent in the middle of a park in Paris to save. Now, he combines his business acumen with an intimate knowledge of the places he curates to create trips that cater to the individual. And even though he offers expert advice, he’s still a proponent of spontaneity. After all, you never know where the fork in in the road will take you.
Right now I’m in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Though I would much prefer to be in South Africa doing a tour of boutique wineries in emerging wine regions.
Occupation: Founder and Owner of Travel Sommelier.
My next trip is to Burgundy.
My last trip took me to Zimbabwe.
My Nyami Nyami necklace is my most treasured travel souvenir.
How has travel impacted your life? It has impressed upon me the need to take the left fork in the road.
Is there an experience that has specifically transformed your life? Two weeks in Madagascar—[there is] flora and fauna there that exists nowhere else on the globe.
Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met on a flight or while traveling? A Belgian international swimmer in Miami—he taught me some great swim strokes.
Three things you can’t travel without: My journal (old fashioned, I know, but great aesthetic), my Nyami Nyami necklace—protects me in the water, my sense of humor.
Favorite alcohol you can’t get in the U.S: Tassenberg wine or “Tassies.” It’s a student, entry-level rot gut wine, but man does it bring back memories.
Favorite shopping destination: Arts and Crafts Market, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
If you’re in Namibia, don’t miss the Himba Tribe. They are Africa’s last nomadic tribe, but best seen in the Kunene region.
Visiting food markets is the best way/place to connect with locals.
What’s the one hometown place you miss most while traveling? Cape Town, South Africa. When you visit elsewhere, you realize just how special it is.
Where do you always take out-of-town friends? Rowayton Seafood.
Best memory of a trip with kids: My first taste of Guinness in Ireland—yes, as a kid.
Most out-of-character travel experience? Something that you would never have done at home: Pitched my tent in a Parisian suburban park—it’s amazing what a traveling student will do to save a few dollars.
Biggest travel mistake: Advance planning with too much detail.
Favorite foreign tradition: The ceremonial handover of the braai tongs.
Travel has taught me that unplanned travel always provides for the richest experiences.
Photo courtesy of Darren Humphreys