Holiday decorations are put away and the new year has started. That means it’s time to plan a trip! Fortunately, the annual Travel & Adventure Show can help you find the perfect destination. Hundreds of exhibitors are waiting to talk to you about their city, tour, or cruise. It’s your chance to listen to experts, ask questions, and learn more about how to get the most for your travel dollar.
I’ve written tips for getting the most out of your day at the show. (Or your weekend! Last year I met a couple from Minnesota who drove down to Chicago for both days.) You only get one chance a year to meet with folks from over 250 places around the world. There’s so much to see and do–read my article so you can plan ahead.
Who should go to the Travel & Adventure Show?
Solos: I list solos first, because it might not occur to them to attend. Wrong! This is a super opportunity to find trips and destinations that are solo-friendly. You can ask about prices and avoid the dreaded single supplement fees. Listen to the speakers and gather information for your next–or first–solo trip!
Couples: This one’s obvious, I know. But sometimes couples need to be inspired to try something new. Consider a place you’ve dreamed about or want to visit before you have other obligations. Spend the day talking to exhibitors from everywhere. Fill your free tote bag with any place that sounds interesting. When you get home, pull out the brochures and plan an adventure.
Families: The Travel & Adventure Show wants you! Kids under 17 get in free with adults. There are activities for the whole family: camel rides, Segway lessons, even a scuba diving tank. Look for tours and destinations that cater to families…you might be surprised to find the wide range of possibilities. The giveaways by exhibitors will be fun for the kids, too.
Cruisers: Is cruising your thing? You are in luck! Every cruise line is represented at the show. Grab thick itinerary books by the armful…you’ll spend hours looking at them later. Ask the representatives about anything cruise-related. They all know their lines aren’t for everyone, so they’re happy to help you find exactly what you need.
Bargain-hunters: If you know where you’re going next, or are open to seeing what’s affordable, bring your credit card. There are fantastic deals to be had! You don’t always need to sign on the spot; you can make an appointment (especially with AAA) for a week or two later. You’ll also find specials throughout the show that aren’t available anywhere else.
Armchair Travelers: Do you like to just learn about places? Come and wander! It’s fun to pick up on the energy of the show, listen to the people you’ve seen on television, and fill your tote bag with items from the exhibitors. Who knows, maybe you’ll decide to pack your bags!
Three stages host speakers throughout each day:
Travel Theatre: Find a seat and hear what travel rock stars have to say. They’re smart and funny, full of advice and lessons they’ve learned. Samantha Brown, Pauline Frommer, and Rick Steves will speak both days in Chicago. Other shows feature Josh Gates, Peter Greenberg, Johnny Jet, Andrew McCarthy and Cheryl Strayed. They don’t rush off after speaking; you can ask questions, get books signed, and snap a selfie with your favorite guru. Special this year: Patricia Shultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and 1,000 Places to See in The USA & Canada Before You Die, will be discussing river cruises; she’ll sign autographs after her presentation.
Destination Theatre: Here’s where you’ll find speakers who want to tell you about special places and why you should consider going. Alaska, Galapagos, New Zealand, Canadian Rockies, Tahiti…you get the idea. Cruise lines give presentations on their ships: what’s new, itineraries, and how to find the right ship for your style and budget. You’ll get practical information, too: best time to go, how to get there, and what to expect.
Savvy Travel Theatre: Looking for travel tips? Head over to get advice on packing, safety, technology, photography, and budget hacks. I always come away with new information. Take notes! These speakers know their stuff and you don’t want to miss any of it.
Where is your nearest Travel & Adventure Show?
The Travel & Adventure Show is celebrating its 15th year. When you go, you’ll understand why it’s been voted America’s Favorite Travel Show.
- Chicago/January 12-13 : Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont
- San Diego/January 19-20: San Diego Convention Center
- Boston/February 9-10: Hynes Convention Center
- Los Angeles/ February 16-17: Los Angeles Convention Center
- Denver/February 23-24: Colorado Convention Center
- Philadelphia/March 9-10: Pennsylvania Convention Center
- Washington DC/March 16-17: Walter E. Washington Convention Center
- San Francisco-Bay Area/March 23-24: Santa Clara Convention Center
- Dallas/March 30-31: Dallas Market Hall
What else should you know?
Show hours are Saturday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday, 11:00 to 4:00 pm.
Tickets are on sale now for ages 17 and older. Ages 16 and younger get in free when with an adult. Active duty military–and up to four family members–are free when showing an ID.
Admission is $15. Save by ordering tickets online. Both one-day and two-day passes are available at discount prices: $11 for one day. If you pay onsite, only cash is accepted.
NOTE: Check sites like Groupon or LivingSocial for super-cheap tickets. Groupon has tickets for the Chicago show for $5.75!
Click on the event you’re interested in for details about parking, transportation, and map of the conference center.
See you there!
More on travel planning: