An American Automobile Association Triptik is a series of map pages spiral-bound into a booklet. Each page is actually folded once to create four pages; most consist of a simplified strip map covering about 50 or 60 miles' worth of highway on the front, a road map of the entire area on the inside, and inset maps of towns along the way on the back along with brief paragraphs describing those towns. Some Triptik pages cover a city or metropolitan area, with an "approach map" on the front, a detailed map inside, and an even more detailed map of the downtown area on the back.
Each Triptik is "prepared expressly for" the AAA member who requested it, with the best route to the member's destination chosen, the Triptik pages covering that route bound together, the route highlighted, and various notations made along the route, such as "construction passable," "see inside," and the ever-popular "speed laws rigidly enforced."
The Triptik evolved from strip maps used in the early days of automobile travel, which, before highways were numbered or even marked, were one of the methods used to guide motorists between cities. Since each strip map only showed one road, it was an extremely detailed "picture" of that road, showing every little bend and curve.
In 1911, AAA issued its first strip map booklet, covering the route between Chicago and Los Angeles in 66 pages. Eventually, AAA came to standardize its strip maps, and beginning in 1937, the maps were made so that they could be arranged and bound together in a myriad of ways.
At first, the strip map took up the left side of each page, with descriptions of each town on the right-hand side, listing the locations of rest areas, gas stations, restaurants, and so on, but increased use of symbols and increased travel on limited access roads such as the Interstate highway system eventually led to the current configuration of each Triptik page.
In the past, Triptiks were put together in each AAA office by someone using a filing cabinet full of the individual strip maps, a highlighter marker, and a blue stamp pad. However, today, thanks to modern technology, Triptiks can be put together by machine, compiled from computer printouts that come out already highlighted and marked. (Some AAA offices can still make Triptiks the old-fashioned way, but many just forward requests to AAA's service.) Beginning in early 2002, the web sites of the various AAA clubs began offering detailed driving directions and online maps using the Triptik name.