The advent of social media has arguably made the world feel smaller than ever before. The sights and sounds of our big, beautiful planet can be beamed straight to our screens on demand, and distance is no longer an obstacle for communicating with one another. We don’t have to wonder about the wonders of the world; we can read all about them whenever we like, and see thousands of impressions of them from all different angles. This doesn’t eliminate the necessity or the worth of adventure, though. If anything, seeing what’s out there makes adventure all the more tantalizing — knowing that countless new experiences await is often what pushes us out of the door.
Of course, now that we are so awash with options, and somewhat hyper-aware of the places we want to go, we might need a bit of help deciding. When that need arises, we turn to the kinds of people on this list: the modern travel entrepreneurs. Their work enables new experiences and empowers others to take the first step towards new horizons. Whether that means curating informative expeditions or leading photography workshops, these travelers have pursued their passions with the intent of helping others to do the same. The ways they do this are as wide and wonderful as the world itself, which we think deserves some recognition.
Carrie Hartsfield (@carriemeonmyway)
What she does: Carrie founded and manages Venture Patagonia, a tour company that immerses travelers in the Patagonian region with guided experiences on both the Argentine and Chilean side of the mountain range. Since the initial launch of the initiative, Venture Patagonia has also partnered with the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund to commit to the upkeep and empowerment of the Torres del Paine National Park and its surrounding communities.
What she says about her work: “I started Venture Patagonia with a vision to fuse American hospitality and an authentic Patagonian experience. We do this by hiring local guides who can provide guests with first-hand knowledge of the area and personal stories. It is also very important to me to encourage and support local companies, especially women entrepreneurs.
“Although some people have a clear path laid out in front of them when it comes to their career, the direction I see my life going changes every day. And I have now come to realize that that’s okay. It leaves room for endless opportunities to pursue crazy ideas.”
What we like about her: Carrie bases herself in South America, which allows her to take a very hands-on role in her business. For her, this is only natural, considering her affection for the region and commitment to its preservation, but it’s remarkable for anyone to move to another country and set up a business there in their early 20s, only a year after graduating from university. Her hunger for adventure takes her further afield, though. One look at her personal Instagram demonstrates that a love of the mountains drives her to wherever there are new frontiers, whether that’s the Canadian Rockies or the seabound peaks of Norway’s Lofoten Islands. Her commitment to chasing these adventures is pretty inspirational, earning her a spot on this list.
Maria and Karim Sahai (@mariasahai)
What they do: Full Life Photo Adventures offers small-group photography tours to the Arctic regions, led by award-winning photographers and filmmakers Maria and Karim Sahai. The couple’s penchant for capturing the mystery of faraway places has taken them all over the world. Maria has written about a spur-of-the-moment trip to Jaipur, India, for our site, and Karim’s highly acclaimed work in the film industry includes contributions to visual effects for “Star Wars” and various Marvel movies. Both of them had a strong connection to the Soviet Union, which they say shaped how they saw the whole world thereafter. Nowadays, they base their business from their home in Norway.
What they say about their work: “We are forever in love with traveling, photography, and the fragile powerful beauty of Earth. There is formidable beauty in the nature and wildlife that we bring photography enthusiasts to. Those special places captivated our hearts and completely changed the way we view and experience the world, which is why we work to share them with others.
“Whether we’re on tour in the endlessly beautiful Arctic North of Norway, the astonishing Polar Land of Svalbard, the unspoiled wonders of Greenland, or the southern paradise of New Zealand, our drive and philosophy is to recreate for our guests the same awe-inspiring moments that have never left us. As photographers, we humbly trust that the images we make are ambassadors for the silent power of Nature, and how that force can reconnect us with ourselves.”
What we like about them: Maria and Karim are both versatile and passionate photographers with a keen eye for the unique beauty found in remote locations and among extreme conditions. While other landscape photographers might seek out verdant forestry and sunswept vistas, the artists behind Full Life show us that life and light shine just as brightly in the colder, darker corners of the Earth. The couple’s willingness to seek out beauty where it isn’t easily reached, and to share that enthusiasm with others in their tours and images, is commendable.
Scott Keyes (@scottscheapflights)
What he does: Scott’s venture into the travel business didn’t happen by accident. If anything, it was a natural progression for someone with belief in one simple principle of travel: the cost should never stop you. His certainty in this regard propelled him to transform Scott’s Cheap Flights from a simple passion project in the form of a weekly newsletter into a full-fledged business, which goes to show that just how far a bit of determination can get you.
What he says about his work: “There’s a really pernicious myth that frequently makes the rounds on social media: you have to be rich to travel. That idea is as detestable as it is wrong. Sure, you can pay over $1,000 for flights to Europe or Asia, but why? It’s not necessary. We’re currently living in the golden age of cheap flights — airfare to Europe, Asia, and elsewhere has never been cheaper, adjusted for inflation, than it is today. Helping people find those $400 flights to Europe so they can take that vacation or honeymoon they always dreamed of, that’s the happiest part of my day.”
What we like about him: We’ve written about Scott before because of his sheer commitment to his business model. Even though he now employs a full-time staff, he still personally spends hours every day scouring the web for airfare deals to share with his followers. He’s inspired to do so by the stories of successful trips that subscribers send him, which he often shares on his personal Instagram feed. He plays an active role in making adventure more accessible to more people simply by taking initiative, which is a great lesson for an aspiring entrepreneur in any field.
Yulia Denisyuk (@insearchofperfect)
What she does: Like many others on this list, Yulia stepped away from a job in a different industry to make a career out of travel. A passionate and “incessant” traveler, as she likes to call it, Yulia was inspired to make this transition by the people she met along her many wanderings. The experiences that her company, Nomad + Jules, curates for clients speak to this — they are local, slow, and highly intentional, mostly looking to bring people to places that “often get a bad rap.”
What she says about her work: “My approach to business, travel, and life is to act. Many folks have ideas and passions, but they do not act on them out of fear of failure or thinking that the obstacles are far too great. Entrepreneurs don’t plan to oblivion or let the fears get in the way. We act, often starting with the smallest steps, see how the world reacts, and venture farther into the unknown.
“As any intrepid traveler knows, travel is an unpredictable business. Planning is important, but things fluctuate and change as you step foot in a new land. Spending time in 60+ countries has prepared me well for becoming an entrepreneur. Building something from scratch, pivoting often, keeping patience, humility, and sanity are all behaviors I cultivated while traveling.”
What we like about her: Yulia’s work is fueled by the intention to always take the road less traveled, or to at least approach the worn path with a new perspective. Her personal Instagram feed and that of her company feature many familiar scenes, from hot air balloons over Turkey’s Cappadocia or the face of the ancient treasury in Petra, Jordan. But it is the stories behind those images that separate Nomad + Jules from the crowd. After all, few people experience such places at the end of a 10-mile hike from a nearby Bedouin settlement, but this is exactly what the company’s “experiential journeys” offer. For Yulia, fostering intimacy between places and people is the top priority.
Myles Cameron (@mylesscameron)
What he does: Myles’ Instagram bio reads, “en route to the rest of my life.” This tagline not only supplies the name of his company, but it also encapsulates his personal philosophy about life and entrepreneurship, which has a lot to do with where we’ve been and where we’re going. Myles used his penchant for travel photography to found En Route, a media production agency whose work mainly involves content for lifestyle and outdoor brands. Since then, he’s continued to hone his skills of landscape photography and add to his already impressive business portfolio with some personal projects on the side, including this video of an epic California road trip.
What he says about his work: “I’ve always loved having a camera in hand, and being able to capture moments of my life. I never really planned on turning photo and video work into a full-time job, but I quickly realized that if I could support myself off of something I was passionate about, I shouldn’t turn down the opportunity to do so. My motivation to run my business doesn’t just come from the desire to make money, but from the fact that it allows me to continue to do what I love every single day.
“I’m a big believer in growth and continually making forward progress, and traveling is always a great learning experience for me. Whether I’m flying across the world or on a road trip close to home, the constant movement and change in environment forces me to adapt to new situations. I find that whenever I’m lacking motivation, hitting the road is the best way to clear my head, and it always gives me fresh perspectives on how to overcome challenges.”
What we like about his work: Myles has created an aesthetic that makes the phrase “adventure is out there!” play on repeat inside our heads. He is genuinely captivated by the wonders of the Earth, and he shares his enthusiasm for capturing them without being self-aggrandizing. Like any good artist, he is very much in the business of showing, not telling — his dedication to his images ensures that when he’s done with them, they’re so compelling that you don’t need a frilly caption or much context to be moved and know that there is some serious beauty out in the world waiting to be explored.
Nastasia Yakoub (@nastasiaspassport)
What she does: The phrase “breaking the mold” sounds revolutionary, as if it describes something that each of us might only get one chance to do in our lives. For Nastasia, founder of the female-empowerment and travel platform Dame Traveler, breaking the mold is something that more people should be told they can do every day, especially women. She did this herself in a massive way, by stepping out of a traditional cultural background that expected her to marry young and surrender personal ambitions. Instead, she used those ambitions to found a travel company that focused on making meaningful connections and creating as many spaces as possible for inspiration to flow.
What she says about her work: “I’ve learned that traveling is more than the pictures we take or the bucket list items we complete. I travel because I want to contribute to making this world a more connected place, one that encourages understanding, open mindedness, and curiosity. I want to inspire women around the world to seek new lands, meet new faces, and learn from cultures unlike their own. Empowering women to travel gives my business more meaning than any collection of stamps in my passport could. In terms of my business philosophy, I’ve found that it’s incredibly important to never compromise my own ethics or values just to get ahead.”
What we like about her: What’s not to like? Social media, the travel community, and the world at large could always use more people like Nastasia — people who understand that their circumstances don’t define them and could never prevent them from empowering themselves and others. Her personal and professional Instagram feeds are comprised of remarkable images of female travelers seamlessly becoming one with their surroundings. She and the Dame Traveler community are more inspiring examples of how it’s always possible to meet the goals one sets for oneself with a little bit of determination.
Alexander Ladanivskiy (@ladanivskyy)
What he does: Alexander is a Ukrainian photographer who wears many hats — from that of a wedding portrait artist to a travel organizer and everything in between. His travels take him all over the global east and north, and his work centers around both creating and capturing intimate experiences.
His business as a private travel organizer sees him take small groups of curious adventurers to popular destinations — such as Iceland, Norway, and Jordan — in a somewhat offbeat manner. The most unique aspect of his model is that those who book trips are not given the exact itineraries or routes of their journeys. They simply pick a destination, and he does the work from there. The inherent sense of adventure in this approach is the most crucial aspect of travel for Alexander.
What he says about his work: “The strongest emotions come from what is unknown in life, and motion through the unknown is what creates experiences that will be remembered. Motion is life. This is the philosophy that guides both my personal life and my business. Do not sit still. Travel, and discover new places for yourself, because the planet is incredibly beautiful.”
What we like about him: Although many of the scenes on Alexander’s Instagram should seem cold and remote, his technique instills them with a sense of warmth that makes his feed truly captivating. This approach to photography is incredibly versatile, which informs his business model. His impressive ability to adapt to the aesthetic demands of the lifestyle, event, and travel industries make him the perfect modern entrepreneur, who now more than ever needs to be a jack-of-all-trades.
Did we miss any of your favorite profiles? If you follow any other professional trailblazers, let us know in the comments below!