Travel inspiration, where do you find it? In a movie, a book, from Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, a friend, brochure, email, mailing, etc. There are so many travel images, stories and options coming at you on a daily basis it’s hard to filter out where to go (at least for me) as the world has so much to offer and we only have so many vacation days (and budget). Should I stay local, venture to a new city or state in the U.S. by car, train or plane or jump of a flight (or four) to go international? Three years ago, I decided I wanted to go on safari but hadn’t a clue how to narrow down the plethora of African safaris to find the country and vendor that was right for me. This is how I ended up on a train to New York City to attend the New York Times Travel Show held at the Javits Center.
The Travel Show Floor
This trade show for consumers is held over two days (Saturday and Sunday) showcasing travel vendors from around the world with food demonstrations/tastings as well as international music and dance performances to make you forget about the cruel East Coast winter outside. The trade show aisles are organized by country, destinations and trip type. While Hawaii may have hundreds of hotels and resorts, only a few (that you may not have heard of before) are in attendance to educate you about their properties to lure you away from the chains of Hilton, Hyatt, Starwood and Marriott, etc.
You can get overwhelmed by the trade show floor if you’ve never been to a trade show of this scope (bring bottled water and snacks). It’s best to divide and conquer – focus on your top interests – Caribbean, Hawaii, Africa, etc. and spend the most time obtaining information and brochures from those vendors in your research. After your bag is full of materials and giveaways, then go be inspired by surprising destinations you may never have considered (i.e. – Iceland).
The majority of vendors are able to book you on the spot for a vacation so if you are keen on utilizing the “trade show specials” on offer but make sure you’ve done your research so that you are getting the best deal. There is a cruise booth but it’s not a corporate cruise line that is sponsoring the booth but rather a local travel agent knowing that many folks want to go on a cruise and can book on the spot.
The Travel Show Seminars
The key for me and the whole reason to travel from Philly to NYC was to attend the seminars in the lower level meeting rooms. My goal was the “How To Plan Your Safari” sessions and panels to see if it was feasible for me to go on a solo safari. I took so many notes, met guides who answered questions and then found the panel speakers booths on the trade show to learn more. The amount of information and research from those two hours saved me days online sifting and searching. I met many African vendors and agents and was able to get a feel for which company worked best for me. I chose Rhino Africa. Having NEVER heard of them, I was able to research more when I returned home after I secured my award ticket to Africa. They were the perfect travel agent/partner for me.
Other seminars over the years have included the Frommers (of the famous travel guides) father Arthur and daughter Pauline telling us where to go in the New Year. Samantha Brown (super cute in person) with many funny stories from her years of travel. The Frugal Travel was on hand to discuss how to travel utilizing the sharing economy to save money. Hundreds of eager interested travelers were finding seats to learn more about travel – how great is that?
Should You Go to a Travel Show?
If you want to learn more about travel from travel writers and industry professionals, then the seminars are worth it. If you want to research a trip and gather lots of advice, yep, go to the show. If you like pretty brochures to dream about, then grab your bag and flex your biceps to carry those heavy books. If you want to meet like-minded folks like you, then go to a travel show and talk to people! If you like culinary demonstrations, get your taste buds ready and go! If you want to go on a cruise or to Disney, stay home and use a local agent to help you with that trip.
You don’t need to travel to NYC for a travel show (although it’s a great excuse to visit NYC), you can venture out to the nearest travel show in your town, join a travel meetup group or follow your favorite travel blogger for updates.
The Travel & Adventure Show
I’m excited that the Travel & Adventure show will be in Philadelphia for the first time at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (across from Reading Terminal) this weekend (March 21-22). I’ve been having a bit of the travel blues and need some inspiration to take advantage of the low Euro and Pound this summer. With the Travel Channel stage (Samantha Brown and Todd Carmichael, host of “Dangerous Grounds” and a local Philly guy who founded La Columbe Coffee and Phil Keoghan of “The Amazing Race”) there will be a lot of inspiration. The Destination stage will go in-depth with location information. The Culinary and Global Beats stages will entice my senses with food, music and dance. If I’m feeling adventurous, there will be rock climbing and a scuba diving tank.
Will I see you there? Tickets online are $11 for one day and $17 for two days (promo code PHPR). At the door, the prices are higher and the lines longer so best to buy online.