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15 Women Who Inspire Us to Travel Deeper

The Fearless Photographer: Maria de la Guardia
15 Women Who Inspire Us to Travel Deeper
We’re continuously inspired by dedicated adventurers—those who travel the world, seek new perspectives, and commit themselves to experiencing life around the globe. These women are pushing the boundaries of what it means to travel fearlessly, motivating us all to follow their lead. Scroll through the slideshow to learn the stories of some (!) of the women who inspire us to travel deeper.
By AFAR Editors, AFAR Staff
Photo by Ilona Szwarc
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    The Fearless Photographer: Maria de la Guardia
    The Fearless Photographer: Maria de la Guardia
    Conflict photographer Maria de la Guardia has lived abroad for almost 17 years and has called a dozen countries her home. The fearless photographer documents human stories everywhere from Afghanistan to Sierra Leone, finding beauty and purpose in some of the most misunderstood corners of the world.

    Read the full story here
    Photo by Maria de la Guardia
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    The Education Activist: Rebecca Ume Crook
    The Education Activist: Rebecca Ume Crook
    Dedicated educator and explorer, Rebecca Ume Crook documents her contributions to education across various parts of Africa (and now India) through her personal Instagram, @stickylittleleaves. Crook cofounded the collective Instagram account @everydayeducation, which shares stories of educators and students around the world. She believes photography can be a tool to make education accessible to everyone and is using social media to replace “likes” with awareness. 

    Learn more here
    Photo by Rebecca Ume Crook
  • 3 / 16
    The Intrepid Adventurer: Alysia Kezerian
    The Intrepid Adventurer: Alysia Kezerian
    In 2015, a spinal cord injury left Alysia Kezerian unable to walk—but it didn’t stop her from exploring the world. After the accident, Kezerian completed an intensive rehabilitation program and returned to school. She went on to study in Europe and travel extensively across the continent. Today, she runs an Instagram account, @wheeliesaroundtheworld, which documents the adventures of wheelchair-using travelers and encourages other wheelchair users to venture outside their comfort zones and experience the world around them.

    Read her full story here
    Courtesy of Alysia Kezerian
  • 4 / 16
    The Wine Pioneer: Ntsiki Biyela
    The Wine Pioneer: Ntsiki Biyela
    Ntsiki Biyela began studying wine in 1999, just five years after the end of apartheid in South Africa. She went on to produce award-winning bottles in South Africa’s Cape Winelands and now owns Aslina, her company that produces wines from the grapes of Cape Winelands farmers. As the first black South African woman to launch her own wine label, Biyela is a pioneer. She also sits on the board of directors for the Pinotage Youth Development Academy, which prepares young South Africans in the Cape Winelands for work in the wine industry.

    Read her story here
    Courtesy of Ntsiki Biyela
  • 5 / 16
    The Wandering Designer: Aza Ziegler
    The Wandering Designer: Aza Ziegler
    Aza Ziegler—a California-raised, New York–trained, and Los Angeles–based clothing designer—travels to gain inspiration and perspective for her clothing line, Calle del Mar. The wandering designer says her creativity is influenced by her travels: further proof that inspiration is everywhere.

    Learn more about her here

    Photo by Charlotte Fassler
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    The Global Citizen: Abby Falik
    The Global Citizen: Abby Falik
    Abby Falik founded Global Citizen Year to help incorporate the lessons that travel can offer into traditional academia. Her program serves as what she calls a “bridge year” for young people. High school graduates travel to developing countries where they live with host families and apprentice with a range of local organizations before they attend university. “Empathy, creativity, and an entrepreneurial spirit: These are things you can’t learn in a classroom,” Falik says. “We want them to become the hallmark of an American education.”

    Learn more here
    Courtesy of Global Citizen Year
  • 7 / 16
    The Boundary Breaker: Hoda Katebi
    The Boundary Breaker: Hoda Katebi
    As a young girl growing up in Oklahoma, Hoda Katebi was one of the few people in her town to wear a head scarf. After graduating from high school, Katebi studied at the University of Chicago, where she started exploring the intersection of politics and fashion. The Muslim-Iranian writer and photographer founded JooJoo Azad, a social action website and blog that aims to confront the misconceptions in Western society about Iran and Islam, and later published a book, Tehran Streetstyle, which documents how Iranians are using fashion to push the boundaries of the country’s dress code.

    Read the full story here
    Courtesy of Hoda Katebi
  • 8 / 16
    The Intuitive Instagrammer: Annapurna Mellor
    The Intuitive Instagrammer: Annapurna Mellor
    Annapurna Mellor travels the world with a purpose: to connect with people. The explorer, writer, and photographer has been following her own advice since she embarked on a trip to Kathmandu to climb the mountain she was named after. “The most rewarding trips I’ve had—the travels that I remember the most and have the best photos and stories from—are from times that I have followed that intuition,” Mellor says.

    Read her story here
    Photo by Annapurna Mellor
  • 9 / 16
    The Meandering Matriarch: Freda Moon
    The Meandering Matriarch: Freda Moon
    AFAR sent writer Freda Moon to Morocco on her first solo trip since the birth of her daughter. Her takeaway? “Being a woman in the world, traveling or not, does sometimes require bravery and strength,” she says. “And we are brave. We are strong.”

    Read her full story here
    Courtesy of Freda Moon
  • 10 / 16
    The Hospitality Vanguard: Sonia Cheng
    The Hospitality Vanguard: Sonia Cheng

    Sonia Cheng is modernizing the world of hospitality for the contemporary traveler, and she’s doing it exactly her way. The CEO of Rosewood Hotels and Resorts turned a small U.S. luxury brand into a global one, but despite being a member of the digitally savvy millennial generation, Cheng still puts human relationships first. “Today’s ultra-luxury traveler—regardless of age, gender, or background—is less concerned with opulence and pampering, and more concerned with value, authenticity, and truly local experiences,” Cheng says. 


    Learn more here

    Photo by Paul Docaser
  • 11 / 16
    The Truth Seeker: Sara Melotti
    The Truth Seeker: Sara Melotti
    After working as a fashion photographer in New York City for nearly three years, Sara Melotti felt compelled to use her talent to illustrate beauty in a more truthful way: one that represents all kinds of women in all kinds of places. A few years ago, the Italian-born photographer set off on a solo adventure, photographing and interviewing women and girls across the globe to find out what beauty means to them. Her groundbreaking project, “Quest for Beauty,” is ongoing.

    See more from her project here
    Photo by Sara Melotti
  • 12 / 16
    The Industry Mastermind: Pam Codispoti
    The Industry Mastermind: Pam Codispoti
    When Chase launched the travel-inspired Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card in 2016, it changed the game for a new generation of experience-hungry explorers, and Pam Codispoti, president of Chase Branded Cards, was the driving force behind the card. “We wanted to design a card that would tap into that emotional side of being a lifelong explorer,” Codispoti says. “It’s less about ‘I’ve arrived’ and more about ‘I’m on a lifelong journey.’”

    Read the full story here
    Courtesy of Chase
  • 13 / 16
    The Culture Seeker: Ilona Szwarc
    The Culture Seeker: Ilona Szwarc
    Much of photographer Ilona Szwarc’s work focuses on how women and girls construct their identities. Fresh off a major project photographing American girls with their American Girl dolls, Szwarc traveled to Texas to explore femininity in rodeo culture. Her striking photos examine the nuanced ways in which rodeo’s youngest heroines take up space in a male-dominated world.

    Learn more about her project here
    Photo by Ilona Szwarc
  • 14 / 16
    The Expat Experience Maker: Meesen Brown
    The Expat Experience Maker: Meesen Brown
    Where are all the ladies?” is the question that inspired Meesen Brown and her partner, Thomas Maher, to create Behere, an all-inclusive expat experience for working women. The company arranges apartments, coworking spaces, fitness-club memberships, and networking events for women who want to experience the digital nomad life in 12 cities across Europe and Southeast Asia. “Women shouldn’t feel like they can’t live abroad because of safety concerns or a lack of community,” Brown says. “There’s a great need for women to have a support system and sustainable infrastructure for their remote careers.”

    Learn more about Behere
    Courtesy of Meesen Brown
  • 15 / 16
    The Dame Traveler: Nastasia Yakoub
    The Dame Traveler: Nastasia Yakoub
    Nastasia Yakoub founded Dame Traveler, a women’s travel blog, as she recovered from a back injury and dreamed of adventure. The goal of Dame Traveler, she says, is to “exemplify strength, fearlessness, and courage” and create a community for female travelers around the world to share stories, inspiration, and advice with one another. 

    Find inspiration from more female adventurers
    Photo by @gogetsomesoul
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    What’s Next . . .
    What’s Next . . .
    Courtesy of Sarah Buder