- 1 / 16The Fearless Photographer: Maria de la GuardiaConflict photographer Maria de la Guardia has lived abroad for more than 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 herePhoto by Maria de la Guardia
- 2 / 16The Education Activist: Rebecca Ume CrookDedicated 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 herePhoto by Rebecca Ume Crook
- 3 / 16The Intrepid Adventurer: Alysia KezerianIn 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 hereCourtesy of Alysia Kezerian
- 4 / 16The Community Builder: Evita RobinsonEvita Robinson wants diversity in travel to be more than a buzzword. In 2011, at age 27, Robinson started the Nomadness Travel Tribe, an influential travel community and lifestyle brand for millennial globetrotters of color. Since then, Robinson has curated more than 30 international group trips, which are so popular they sometimes sell out in minutes. She also gives TED Talks exploring what domestic travel is like for African Americans, and coproduces a web series with Issa Rae of Insecure called The Nomadness Project, which documents the Tribe’s adventures abroad. Last year, Robinson made AFAR’s 2018 Travel Vanguard, which recognizes individuals harnessing the power of travel to make a difference in the world.
Read the full story herePhoto by Pete Monsanto
- 5 / 16The Global Citizen: Abby FalikAbby 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 hereCourtesy of Global Citizen Year
- 6 / 16The Boundary Breaker: Hoda KatebiAs 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 hereCourtesy of Hoda Katebi
- 7 / 16The Meandering Matriarch: Freda MoonAFAR 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 hereCourtesy of Freda Moon
- 8 / 16The Taste Pioneer: Ntsiki BiyelaNtsiki 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 hereCourtesy of Ntsiki Biyela
- 9 / 16The Wandering Designer: Aza ZieglerAza 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 herePhoto by Charlotte Fassler
- 10 / 16The Intuitive Instagrammer: Annapurna MellorAnnapurna 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 herePhoto by Annapurna Mellor
- 11 / 16The Bold Navigator: Geri MooreGeri Moore is a seasoned British Airways pilot who has been operating commercial jet aircrafts for close to a decade. This year, she shared with AFAR how her favorite flight route between Europe and the Middle East involves complicated protocols, diplomatic communications, and navigating “no-fly zones”—revealing more about the world than you might expect.
Read her fascinating story hereCourtesy of Geri Moore
- 12 / 16The 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.Photo by Paul Docaser
- 13 / 16The Culture Seeker: Ilona SzwarcMuch 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 herePhoto by Ilona Szwarc
- 14 / 16The Truth Finder: Sara MelottiAfter 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 herePhoto by Sara Melotti
- 15 / 16The 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 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 BehereCourtesy of Meesen Brown
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