Reading: AFAR Magazine

Trisha Miller from Travel Writers Exchange recently wrote about the power of print and how, as travel writers, we should support the magazines we want to write for. While I agree with her completely, I can guarantee that I would be reading AFAR whether I was a travel writer or not.

When all other magazines were downsizing staff, shrinking budgets and closing doors, the founders of AFAR, Greg Sullivan and Joe Diaz, began publishing what is arguably one of the most genuine, readable magazines on the market today. It was an idea that went against all logic, but so does their magazine, which is why it’s such a great discovery.

AFAR Media sums up its mission succinctly:

Travel is changing. The world has grown smaller, more accessible, yet homogenized and less exotic. Today’s travelers want to get beyond the superficial, the mass-produced, the mass-consumed, and the mass-experienced. They look for the authentic in people, places, and things.

Nothing in AFAR’s pages is reminiscent of the tropical paradise, untapped gems-esque marketing copy found in mainstream travel magazines of yore. Rather, the magazine speaks to travelers who yearn for experiential travel. It provides readers with the tools they need not necessarily to escape the most popular sites, cities and countries around the globe, but to find a way to embrace these places on a more personal level.

Within every issue, readers find a list of upcoming events and festivals across the globe; profiles of people doing interesting and worldly things; information about authentic music, food and souvenirs; and highlights of unusual places to stay. Feature stories don’t mince words but rather tell it like it is. For example, a story in the December/January 2010 issue discussed the financial problems of Seychelles and how this affects both the islanders and travelers to the country. The same issue also contains a first-person narrative from a man who learns the hard way what happens when he tries to help a good friend he met on his travels by giving him money.

There are three parts of the magazine I am particularly fond of. First, I absolutely love the section called “Mix,” which is a gallery of photographs taken around the world that are all similarly themed. Houses, school lunches, uniforms … every country has them, but they all look different.

I also enjoy the section called “Local View,” which gives a local resident the opportunity to share his or her favorite things about living in that particular city. Sometimes this person emphasizes places to go and things to do, but more often than not, it’s a snapshot of everyday life that helps define the personality of a place.

Finally, I think the section called “Spin the Globe” is fascinating. In it, AFAR spins a globe and randomly selects a place to send a writer. That writer then creates a story based on his or her experience.

In truth, every issue of AFAR is packed, page by page, with not only helpful information but truly interesting insights and ideas that can’t be curated from the folds of a glossy brochure. If you are at all interested in taking your travel experiences to the next level, I highly recommend this magazine.

13 Responses to “Reading: AFAR Magazine”

  1. Trisha Miller

    Wow – excellent review! I too love Afar magazine for those and other reasons, but if I didn’t already read it, your enthusiasm would have me subscribing right away. 🙂

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      Thanks Trisha! I’m glad you’re a fan of AFAR too. I really hope it’s able to pull through while all these other print publications fold.

      Reply
  2. Margo

    I confess I’ve only read Afar online, but you have definitely inspired me to head over there and sign up for that free issue they mention. I always forget to check for it at our local B & N – probably because I’m pretty sure they don’t have it. I do enjoy their approach and perspectives on things 🙂 (and I wouldn’t mind playing “spin the globe” NOW)

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      Definitely get your free issue, Margo. It is 150% worth it. You’ll love it. I promise. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Keith

    I have a subscription to AFAR and love it.

    Reply
  4. neha

    Thanks for this JoAnna. I’ve been considering subscribing, and this review pretty much helps make my mind up.

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      Yay! I converted someone on the fence. And that, Neha, makes this post worth it. Thanks for stopping by and reading my review.

      Reply
  5. Laura Simkins at Afar

    Thanks for the great review! We’re excited by the positive response we’ve gotten to the magazine.

    Margo — we do sell at most Barnes and Nobles. Borders too. If you don’t see it, please ask them to carry it.

    You can also get a free preview issue if you visit http://www.afar.com

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      Laura ~ I’m so excited that someone from Afar stopped to check out my review. I really do love the magazine and appreciate the fresh approach you’ve taken with it. Keep up the good work!

      Reply
  6. Josie

    I checked out this magazine at a local bookstore, and it seems to have a good design aesthetic and editorial content. However, the one thing that I could not get passed was how similar its overall mission statement and then its various editorial sections of the magazine are to the now defunct Modern Nomad magazine. So I bought a copy of Afar and then went home and compared it to an old issue of Modern Nomad and sure enough so much of its message and content are almost identical. I am not saying that is a bad thing, but the similarities are many. That said, I think that I like Modern Nomad a little better than Afar because it was the original and also due to the fact that as I flip through both of the magazines, I find that Modern Nomad had far more content and less advertising as part of its policy than Afar. Also, it was far less trendy with regards to the places that it covered. That said, I am glad that Afar is out there and I probably will go buy another issue at some point. There’s not much alse out there in the travel section.

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      Thanks for your comment, Josie. I’m actually not familiar with Modern Nomad, but it sounds like AFAR might fill that void.

      Reply
  7. Jessie

    Hello,

    I also used to subscribe to Modern Nomad magazine and I find that Afar seems to be using a lot of their ideas, which is good because it was a great magazine. That said, I agree with Josie, in that Modern Nomad was much more content driven—and I will also add that Modern Nomad was a much more artistic magazine while Afar is far more mainstream.

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      I wish I’d gotten my hands on a copy of that magazine. Sounds like it was a good one!

      Reply

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