In 2007, I was in a master’s program in philosophy at Arizona State University focused on ethics and values. I wanted to think about what it meant to live a good life. As stimulating as my studies were, the most rewarding part of my life at that time were the trips I took.

My travels, which included five-week journeys through both South America and India with AFAR cofounder Joe Diaz, allowed me to directly engage with many of the questions I’d faced in the classroom: Why do we choose to live the way we do? How do we build a just society?

We weren’t traveling to check sights off our bucket lists but to talk to people and understand their perspectives. Traveling in this way challenged my worldview and my assumptions in ways that school never could. It was those experiences that convinced me of the power of travel.

When Joe and I launched AFAR, we dedicated ourselves to inspiring and enabling travelers to get out of their comfort zones and engage with the world as we had; to go beyond escapism and sightseeing to have deeper, richer, more fulfilling experiences around the world. We knew how travel had changed us, and we wanted others to know that kind of excitement and satisfaction. Since that time, we have come to know many others who share our mission to make travel better.

In this issue of AFAR, we honor our Travel Vanguard, 10 visionaries who inspire us by bringing their values to the travel industry. You’ll meet people such as Keith Henry, who is helping to promote and support the indigenous cultures and people of Canada; Luke Bailes, who is working with philanthropists to protect huge tracts of land in Africa for wildlife, travelers and local communities alike; and Erik Weihenmayer, who, through transformative travel experiences, is helping people to overcome challenges—whether they be physical, emotional, or economic—that might otherwise hold them back and keep them from fulfilling their potential.

We hope you will be as impressed by these leaders —and their commitment to the life-changing power of travel—as we are.

>>Next: How to Travel Beyond the Postcard