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National Geographic’s ‘Never Say Never’ sets out to make travel more inviting for everyone

Globetrotting is an experience that isn’t as accessible as it should be. While we can all agree that leaving your home to experience a new place builds character, we’ve still got a ways to go before traveling is as easy for some as it is for others.

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Austin-based travel journalist Jeff Jenkins just wants to see more people who look like him embracing their wanderlust. His new travel show, in partnership with Disney  (DIS) – Get Free Report and National Geographic, is all about putting himself in new places outside of his comfort zone in hopes that others like him will be inspired.

Jenkins’ travel plans are very intentional — his desire to avoid the “touristy things” and find something that challenges him gives the series its flavor. In Japan, Jenkins shares the vulnerability of taking his shirt off while displaying his newly learned sumo wrestling skills. In New Zealand, Jenkins shares his feelings about his unknowable lineage as a Black ancestor of slavery with members of the Maori tribe.

Not every traveler is going to be able to get a guided tour of Hanoi from fashion model Jessica Mihn Ahn, but Jenkins’ intentionality with travel could inspire any traveler. But for those who don’t see themselves represented in line at the average tourist destination, the writer illustrates how being a stranger in a strange land can be a path to learning more about yourself.

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“Just keep goin’, step by step,” he says to himself after climbing to the top of the 422-step Ti Top Island staircase. “Do this for your mom, do this for your family. Do this for all the fat people out there.”

The show sends the award-winning travel writer to eight locations, including international spots like Mexico, Vietnam, and Iceland. There are also domestic destinations like New Mexico and the Adirondack Mountains in New York for U.S. residents — because it’s not about getting far away, it’s about having a life-changing experience.

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