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sep 25

Destination: Budget Travel's printing plant

At the printing plant (Courtesy Nina Willdorf, via cell phone camera)
Pages from the November issue that don't meet standards; they'll be recycled (Courtesy Nina Willdorf)

It's no doubt odd to be writing a blog post about visiting a printing plant—oh the irony!—but I'm down in Dyersburg, Tenn., about two hours north of Memphis, on a field trip to Quebecor, where Budget Travel gets printed. (Among the other magazines printed here: Cosmopolitan, Country Living, Consumer Reports, Maxim, and Popular Mechanics).

I came down with Sandra Garcia, Budget Travel's Art Director, and Ton Vu, our Production Director, to observe and direct the printing of our November issue. I watched Budget Travel pages get slight ink adjustments so the colors on the pages pop, roll through the press, get trimmed, and ultimately bind together with a complicated process I wouldn't dare to describe. Bottom line: it's awesome.

Here are the 4 Most Fascinating Things I Learned Today:

1) A train (literally a train!) comes in to drop rolls of paper bigger than I am. Each is stacked and labeled with the name of the magazine it belongs to. Budget Travel's paper is milled in Finland.

2) All of the little extra bits of paper that get shaved off when pages are trimmed end up getting sold to Mexico.

3) It's old-school and technologically advanced, all at once. Computers somehow track each magazine as it rolls through press, so they can sort them by zip code. All issues of Budget Travel going out to Oregon, for instance, get stacked and shipped off in one handy stack, making the mailman's job just a bit easier.

4) Robots are involved. I'm not kidding.

5) So Finland + Memphis + Mexico…the making of Budget Travel is itself an impressive journey.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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