In October, Afar cofounder Joe Diaz and I went to Scotland for the Adventure Travel World Summit. After arriving in Edinburgh, we headed straight to Loopy Lorna’s Tea House. We had a date for tea with the proprietor, Gaynor Salisbury, who was the featured Resident in our November/December issue, and Nick Drainey, the writer of the piece. What a great way to be introduced to Edinburgh! We talked about, well, everything— Gaynor’s dreams of expanding her business, Nick’s writing career and his walks throughout Scotland, global politics—laughing all the while. We ended up closing Loopy Lorna’s and heading over to Canny Man’s, an old pub just across the street, for pints and nuts—more typical fare for me than tea and crumpets—and more conversation and laughs.
In some ways, there was nothing exceptional about this. Just regular people enjoying each other’s company. But that’s what I loved about it. Joe and I were strangers in a place where we had never been. Within minutes of arriving, we were hanging with locals and having a great, ordinary time. And that is exceptional.
We imagine that when you travel, like us, you look to have experiences that take you beyond the tour bus and put you at the kitchen table—or in our case, the café table—with everyday people. In the pages of Afar, we try to take you to some of these places, to give you some of the feeling and insights you get when you make these trips yourself. We also hope our stories inspire you to get off the couch, so to speak, and to see where your travels can take you.
We know you are out there having these kinds of adventures. You send us stories when you stop in a place we have featured in the pages of Afar. And you’re making connections in places all over the globe that we haven’t yet written about in Afar. We think you like our approach to travel, but the fact is, we can’t cover every place in our magazine—the world is too big and too dynamic—and we can’t personalize our coverage just for you.
This is why I am so excited about Afar Connect, our new website at afar.com. Afar Connect is about facilitating connections and getting deeper when you travel. Sure, you can go somewhere with no advance planning and find ways to go beneath the surface. But if you can talk to someone before you go—someone who knows the place like a local, who shares your approach to travel, and who can tell you things that haven’t been broadcast to a mass audience—you’ll have a head start on the path to your own unique, personal experience. Those are the connections we want to help you make.
We started Afar Connect with about 1,000 members of the Afar community, and if you took part, I want to thank you for the time and effort you’ve put into helping us test and improve the site. The good news is that people seem to really enjoy it. We are still in our testing phase, and we’re working to make the site better all the time. I urge you to check it out and let us know what you think. And write to me at email@example.com to share your stories of how Afar has helped you to have exceptional—perhaps exceptionally ordinary—experiences.
COFOUNDER & CEO
This appeared in the January/February 2011 issue of AFAR Magazine