Seems like everywhere I look, I’m reading about the shifting sands of travel preferences. Whether we’re embracing our inner explorer or developing a long-overdue awareness of our place in the global scheme of things, it’s clear that travelers today are more eager than ever to go “off-menu” in search of a more-resonant travel experience.
Condé Nast Traveler recently conducted a poll in which 84% of its respondents indicated that an influencing element in making their travel choices now was, “new and different cultural experiences.” Given that only about 20% of Americans own a passport, I’d say it was about time.
Perhaps, as Condé Nast asserts, President Obama’s policy of hope and his diplomatic insistence on getting out of the house (so to speak) and visiting the neighbors makes the concept of traveling a little less daunting. Certainly, its nice to walk into a bar these days, whether in Woollahra or Beijing, and not feel like you are related to the Village Idiot.
In keeping with this new zest for exploration, a travel magazine has recently launched with a clear imperative of heightening our travel consciousness. Afar Magazine has the slick look of a publication aimed at the younger end of the demographic base in which I currently reside. However, inside the trendy, non-glossy cover and clean, sans serif headlines lies a noble heart – a crystal-clear sense of compassion, cultural-curiosity, and a soul; where the destination is the ice cream sundae, but it’s the experience with the culture, people, art, music, lifestyle, that resonates, creating the proverbial cherry on top.
In Afar, co-founder Greg Sullivan strives to inspire cultural connectivity through features and articles that, “go beneath the surface”, and remind the reader that it is the experience gained through engagement and not the bobble-headed dashboard doll, that makes the best travel momento. Accordingly, Afar has a strong under-pinning of sustainability and good global citizenship, sourcing paper through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, off-setting carbon emissions for flights taken as part of the magazine’s business, and establishing the Afar Foundation to promote cultural connectivity through the funding of educational and immersion travel programs for students in need.
According to Sullivan, the magazine is just the first step in a travel empire, including a web community launching in early 2010, TV and radio partnerships and a series of books and events which will, no doubt, extend the brand well across the borders of the exotic destinations highlighted in its sustainable paper pages.