Updated January 2, 2019. It’s that time of year! Travel shows are popping up all over the country, ready to tempt–and educate–us, as we wander the aisles of huge convention centers. Do we really need travel show tips? Isn’t it enough to pick up brochures, chat with exhibitors, and grab free luggage tags?
Plenty of folks will be satisfied to shuffle along, stuffing their bags with pamphlets and giveaways. But serious travelers know that a travel show offers the opportunity to meet experts, ask questions, and discover new possibilities.
Last year, I spent a full weekend at the Chicago Travel & Adventure Show. I logged miles of walking, as well as hours of talking to as many vendors and tourist boards as possible. I came away astounded by the amount of information available and depth of experience of the people standing behind the tables and next to the displays.
The convention centers are enormous, but the shows are popular and well-attended. The sooner you arrive, the longer you’ll have before the aisles get jammed. Find the areas that most interest you: local or USA destinations, international spots, resorts, and cruise lines are grouped together. Dive in!
Don’t rush. Even if you’re only interested in a couple of destinations, you’ll cheat yourself if you don’t spend time walking around. Get curious about new places or different ways to see the world. There are cafes for lunch or to take a coffee (or beer) break. You’ve already paid for the ticket and parking…now enjoy!
Don’t be shy! Exhibitors aren’t there to sell you on anything except how great their destination or company is. Can’t blame them for being enthusiastic about what they do! Ask them why you should choose what they’re offering. Listen to what they want you to know. They want to be helpful. After you chat, thank them and move on.
One of the best parts of the day is the chance to listen to experts talk about travel trends, how to make the most of your trip, and to share their experiences. The same people you see on television are right there on stage! Speakers include some heavy hitters: Pauline Frommer, Rick Steves, and Samantha Brown–WOW! Plus, cruise line presidents and travel company executives show up to give lectures and insider tips. Check the schedule and find a seat at one of the many stages.
Ever wanted to try a Segway, but were afraid you’d roll off the sidewalk? How hard is it to ride one of those old-fashioned bikes with the huge front wheel? Yearning to scuba dive? And, admit it, that camel ride does look like fun. Scattered throughout the show, there are opportunities to try activities in a safe way. Forget about looking foolish. Kudos for being brave…and making your Facebook friends jealous!
Take a break and watch dancers and musicians from around the world. Throughout the day, there are fascinating performances by talented people who are preserving their culture while showing us the beauty of their country. It’s worth your time, trust me.
Are you having a good time? Found a new destination? Tried a new food? Take photos and share them with friends. Let them know what they’re missing–they may still be able to come on the second day. And for sure, the next year!
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
No travel show near you? Consider making it a weekend. Last year, I met folks from Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana…
Here are some more travel tips from TravelSmart Woman:
8 Easy Tips for Budget Travel Planning
Cruise Tips for Budget Travelers