Today’s mail included a copy of AFAR Magazine with one of those “THIS IS YOUR LAST ISSUE!” flyers attached to the cover. These days, with more of my reading material arriving digitally, I almost always let the print subscription lapse — but I’m renewing this one.
If you like to read more about the people and the culture of the places you go, then AFAR is probably the magazine you’ve been looking for all these years.
One Year of AFAR Magazine
In a happy moment of travel-related serendipity, I found out about AFAR while on a trip last summer. We were staying at a place in Dubai’s Bastakiya neighborhood and, while walking around, a nearby Hotel / Gallery caught our eye. ((Traveling to Dubai? Be sure to check out Bastakiya! It’s hard to grasp how much things have changed for this city without walking around this traditional neighborhood and along the nearby Dubai Creek.))
The manager, an American named Harrison, was kind enough to show us around and invited us to enjoy some cool beverages in the shade afterwards. We all talked about our travels and, at some point, Harrison asked us “Have you ever heard of AFAR Magazine?”. One of its founders had just been a guest and he described it as a magazine geared toward people interested in a more engaged style of exploring the world.
It piqued my interest, and so I subscribed when we returned to New York a couple of months later.
Traveling With Your Brain Turned On
AFAR is about international, intentional travel and, with every issue that’s arrived since I subscribed, I’ve been impressed by its quality. The features, the photography, the layout, and the writing are consistently enjoyable ((I was very pleased to discover that writers like Matt Gross and Rachel Shukert were contributors)).
This isn’t more of the same “Aspirational Lifestyle Porn” that is often passed off as travel journalism these days (you won’t likely see “The AFAR Top 100 List of Über-Luxe Resorts / Objets Inaccessible” anytime soon). Instead, it focuses on having experiences which can help you understand a place better — irrespective of price.
You’ll find articles about people and the work they do, useful tips about how local people live, about the art and the food cultures which often give a region its unique textures and flavors, stories about volunteering and ways to get more deeply involved in the places you visit…. and, of course, plenty of photos to get you day-dreaming!
Best of Both Worlds
Even though it’s a difficult time for traditional publishing, there are still a few magazines that deliver a quality product which actually takes advantage of the strengths of the printed page. Monocle, The Economist, National Geographic, and the New York Review Of Books will always have an audience because each gives a tactile, visceral reading experience that isn’t the same as a website or an eBook. In the same way, AFAR Magazine is a pleasure to read and I’m already looking forward to thumbing through another year’s worth of issues!
But AFAR also has a digital presence… and it’s not a web-based rehash of the magazine. AFAR Connect is an online community that lets members reach out to one another, ask questions of locals, post photos, and trade travel tips and must-see places (As part of my upcoming “Tech for Travelers” Series, I’ll give you a closer look at AFAR Connect).
Both in print and digital forms, AFAR puts people and their stories at the center of their content. I think it’s a smart, engaging approach and well-worth checking out!