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For those of us who’ve always dreamed of traveling more but need a bit of inspiration, Afar’s new iPhone app may be just the ticket.

Afar, which began as a travel magazine before hitting the web, is focused on experiential travel. Consider it the antidote to clunky travel guidebooks and sites like TripAdvisor. Afar’s magazine offers in-depth pieces about different locations and cultures, but the company took a user-generated approach when it came to building its website, which allows anyone to share travel experiences.

Now with its free iPhone app, which hits the iTunes store today, Afar is taking the user-generated concept a step further. You can snap a photo with your iPhone, type up a quick description, and add it to Afar’s library of travel experiences.  Or you can gawk at the gorgeous photos submitted by other users and start planning your next trip. It’s like Instagram meets Foodspotting, but with a focus on dreamy travel locations. (Don’t be surprised if you start muttering “I want to go to there” to yourself like 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon.)

“Online travel sites in general started with booking, but there’s really no online presence that captures where travel starts,” Afar CTO Derek Butcher said in an interview with VentureBeat.

In addition to launching its iPhone app, Afar is also bringing its website out of beta testing today. Butcher tells me that the company didn’t want to take the same approach as other magazines and dump all of its magazine content online. Instead, Afar came up with its user-generated concept to create a travel social network. The company now has 16,000 registered users on its website.

Both the Afar website and iPhone app feature snippets of content from the magazine, which could entice its users to subscribe.

Afar was co-founded by serial entrepreneur CEO Greg Sullivan, who poured $15 million of his own money to start the magazine back in 2008, and Joseph Diaz, the company’s VP of sales and brand development. The company has offices in New York City, San Francisco, and other locations.


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