AFAR set out to show how travel could enrich people’s lives. A decade later, co-founder Greg Sullivan reflects on how it has done just that–and where we still have to go.
This September/October issue marks the 10th anniversary of AFAR.
It is a humbling and gratifying occasion for us. When we started AFAR, the world was in the midst of the Great Recession. People weren’t traveling. Businesses weren’t opening. And that went double—OK, quintuple—for print magazines.
But we were committed to the idea that travel, when undertaken with an open mind and heart, could enrich people’s lives. And that the more people traveled this way, the better off the world would be. If we could be the voice and inspiration for this mind-set, this way of travel—what a great thing to do with our lives.
Thankfully, due to an incredible team of people here at AFAR, the support of many partners, and you, our readership of discerning, global-citizen travelers, we have found our place. Every issue of our magazine is read by more than a million people, and every month, millions more visit afar.com. Through our nonprofit program Learning AFAR, we have helped to send over 1,300 high school students on life-changing travel experiences. And I like to think we have enhanced millions of lives by inspiring and guiding people to engage in deeper and more fulfilling travel.
Not only that, the world has become more receptive to our message and values. “Experiential travel” was an arcane term when we dedicated ourselves to it; now it is so widely used, it is almost banal. The number of people traveling has nearly doubled in the last 10 years. This is not too much travel. Far from it. That would be like saying too much living, too much learning, or too much personal growth. But, unfortunately, many people are taking an almost acquisitive approach to travel. They want to see the most popular places, take a picture, share it with their friends, check the box, and move on, without any deep interaction with the locals, without any serious contemplation of what the place is about. So, we see our work as far from done.
We are committed to continuing to serve the world’s best travelers: those who are dedicated to traveling the moment they walk out their front door, to searching for the distinctive, and to leaving the world a little bit better than they found it. You are the role models who can help change the outlook of those who flock to the most overrun places, and we genuinely believe that, together, we can make the world less divided, more open, and more responsible.
It is fitting that this issue is themed around happiness. Although there is much to be concerned about and much to improve, we remain optimistic about the future. Thank you for your support and for traveling deeper with us for a decade.
>>Next: Does Travel Make You Happy?