Monday, May 5, 2014

A Nice Bonus, A Poor Magazine On Its Own: AAA Living!

The Good: Decent photography, The writing is all right
The Bad: Very simplistic, Surprisingly addy
The Basics: As one of the membership benefits to AAA, AAA Living provides travelers with surprisingly little to recommend the service.

When it comes to magazines, it is easy to see how their readership and production would be declining in the age of the internet. Nowhere is this more true for me than AAA Living. AAA Living is a magazine that comes to AAA (the travel/car club) members every two months.

AAA Living is a 64-page magazine that is glossy and presented as a membership benefit to AAA members. Readers of travel magazines, though, are likely to find the magazine a bit underwhelming. First, AAA Living is exceptionally addy. Out of sixty-four pages, AAA Living has twenty-seven pages of advertisements, several of which are for AAA or for AAA-affiliated deals. Part of the problem with AAA Living is that the advertisements are synergized with AAA deals.

Of the thirty-seven pages of substance in AAA Living, the magazine is broken into two features and three sections of columns: Members Corner, Travel Ideas, and “Life Matters.” The features have ambitious travel ideas – the current issue features Nothern Italy and Africa travel. The feature articles have impressive photography, though none of it is particularly audacious. AAA Living features pictures of very safe, easy-to-access places that they feature. The AAA seems to want to present images that would be common on someone’s travel through one of their trips. This comes across in AAA Living as mundane as opposed to anything near incredible.

The columns are used to further the AAA perspective of travel. The Members Corner articles promote AAA benefits for travel. They read very much like advertisements, but of the three sub-columns under the Members Corner banner, the “Car Care” section actually has decent advice about how to travel safely and well, but the other sections – “Savings” and “Benefits” are columns exclusively about how being a AAA member can benefit members. Those articles steer readers toward some of the discounts offered by AAA and its affiliated partners. The Travel Ideas section is exactly what the name suggests: columns that offer AAA members options for where to travel that might be off the beaten path. The Life Matters columns are broader articles on how money management and travel synergize. The articles promote safety, fiscal responsibility, and protecting one’s assets.

AAA Living uses very simplistic language and there is nothing audacious printed in the magazine. The magazine is a mix of advertisements, lifehacks and travel ideas . . . all of which is easily found on the internet. There is nothing printed in AAA Living that is at all extraordinary. The magazine is not terrible, it just is not particularly useful. Other travel magazines might have out-of-touch fantasy trips and exceptional photography, but AAA Living is so ruthlessly pragmatic that it lacks any real punch, vision, or anything at all extraordinary. The life hacks or travel hacks are interesting, but most of them are either common knowledge or information that could be easily found by reading one’s owner’s manual for their vehicle.

In the end, AAA Living is not even an incredible side benefit to being a AAA membership. While the content might enhance the AAA website, it is not worth tracking down on its own.

For other magazine reviews, please check out my reviews of:
Blackest Night Special Edition #1
Ladies Home Journal
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Magazine


For other magazine reviews, please check out my Book And Magazine Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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