AFAR’s co-founder reflects on the importance of travel–both internationally and right here in the United States.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of AFAR. Some of you may remember that for our first two years, AFAR’s coverage was 100 percent international; we published no stories about the USA. That certainly wasn’t because we didn’t think there were great travel experiences to be had in America. But we were a brand new travel media company, and we thought being purely international was one way to find our niche. There was also a more personal reason. I grew up in Oklahoma, went to school in Indiana and Virginia, and had lived most of my adult life in Arizona. Though I had visited all 50 states by the time I was 31, I came to international travel relatively late in life. When I did, it had a profound impact on me. Visiting destinations I had only read about, connecting with people from those places, and seeking to understand their cultures and perspectives changed my views of myself, of the world, and of the opportunities and challenges we all face. My belief in the importance of international travel runs deep.
AFAR long ago stopped our strictly international focus. You, our audience, love to travel domestically, and we want to guide and inspire you just as we do for your trips across borders. And more importantly, we believe that travel is a mind-set. The second that travelers walk out their front door, they are curious explorers discovering the new and distinctive, wherever that might be.
So it gives me great pleasure to present the America Issue, hitting stands February 19. It’s our first issue with 100 percent domestic stories. We’re doing this for the reasons I just mentioned, but there’s a more urgent need as well. Today, our country feels very divided. Just as I thought international travel was important for Americans when we launched AFAR, now it is more important than ever that we travel within our own country. We need to value both the differences that enrich our lives and the many commonalities we share. When we travel closer to home, we need to bring with us the same open mind and willingness to engage that we carry with our passports.