Should You Attend Travel Shows for Travel Inspiration and Information?

People often ask me, should they attend travels shows, such as the New York Times Travel Show or others?

Well, let me ask you – Do you love to travel? Do you need inspiration? If so, then yes – make an appearance.

Ah, but what can you expect? And which one should you attend? Well, here is a quick look at a few festivals, travel shows I’ve attended recently and my thoughts.

New York Times Travel Show: New York, NY (next: Jan 23-25, 2015)

If size matters to you, then this is your show. Most every global destination is represented at the show and it is one of the biggest in the US. Although, at times it can be overwhelming, if you stroll through regions of the world or types of travel that interest you and make just a few stops at places you want to visit, it can prove very manageable and rewarding.

ny times travel show 2013, malaysia booth

I visited Malaysia and it helped my find Langkawi

One Surprise:  I think each year I remain surprised how many people show up and seem to make sure they get the as many freebies as possible; they will even reach over and through patrons for items. I can say I am not a fan of that approach, but make no mistake I took in a massage at DO-AC (Atlantic City), tasted some salt water taffy from my friends at Virginia and did stay for free wine and beer (after 5pm on Friday, the industry day) from a few places. Stay Guilty.

One Destination: I stopped by many destinations for discussion, but one particular stand last year was the super friendly folks at the Nicaragua booth. My stop here reminded me how I need explore the surf and sunsets of this Central American country. Something I put down as my one-bucket list item in 2015.

I also enjoyed how the booth had both a tour operator and a tourism representative. Sometimes, booths just have tour operators who can be looking solely for sales. I like when you can talk about the destination, not about a tour.

a look at the silk road from the New York Times Travel Show

Another destination on my list- Central Asia and the Silk Road

One Must Do: Definitely watch some of the stage demonstrations, especially from places you might want to visit.  If interested in Mexico, find out if they plan to bring Mariachi (they did last year), or if it’s a place in Asia, find out what dances or cultural activities will hit the stage. It’s fun and included in the price of admission.

Where to Stay: Since the show is held at the Javits Center on the west side of Manhattan, I recommend the Ink 48 in Hells Kitchen. It is “walkable” or a short cab ride to and from the convention and the Kimpton Hotel wine happy hour starts just as the conference ends.

Would I go again?  Yes. Although, I don’t find the industry day as helpful for a blogger, I do appreciate stopping by destinations with tourism representatives to chat and the networking with fellow traveler writers is unbeatable.

DC Travel and Adventure Show: Washington, DC (next: March 7-8, 2015) 

It is a show with adventure as the focus, so what is not to love, right? The show itself actually travels across multiple cities (Atlanta, San Diego, San Francisco, etc…) throughout the year and I attended the one in Washington DC.

With no industry day I walked the conference with the consumers and found it very manageable. I also noticed more of a regional focus, not a truly global focus. Apparently, there is plenty of adventure to be experienced right here in the good ole, US of A.  Actually this summer, I plan to experience more of it by visiting US National Parks – America’s Best idea.

sneaking in booze

No need to sneak in booze to this Travel Show

One Surprise: Drinks for sale. No need to stop by booths offering free drinks when you can purchase your own and walk the floor. Cocktails create a festive mood, perhaps provide a needed hair of the dog for the weekend and also often break the ice for conversation.

One Must Do: Attend a talk. You’ll find big names from the travel industry often giving talks about their adventures or specific topics related to travel. Definitely stop in and listen to a discussion and ask questions too. The smaller size usually makes for a more manageable and enjoyable session.

a view of the floor at the DC Travel and Adventure show

A wide view of the floor with a special event - A Taste of Travel in the back

One Destination:  I found myself spending a lot of time at the Outer Banks, NC booth. The North Carolina destination place has been on my list for a while for surfing, but after conversing with the adventure folks from Kitty Hawk Kites I also can’t wait to learn to hang glide.

Where to Stay:  Although other hotel options were much closer to the Convention Center, I decided on the stylish Hotel Palomar, a Kimpton property located in DuPont Circle. Not being from DC, attending the show was a weekend away (from NYC) and the proximity to nightlife with the artsy feel of this part town coupled with Kimpton hospitality reminded me once again why I enjoy city travel.

Would I go again: Yes, although I chatted with few folks, the more laid back attitude was a welcome change of pace from New York and made for more productive (longer) conversations.

New York Travel Festival: New York, NY (next: April 18-19, 2015)

Filling a need, by focusing on the more experienced traveler searching for more authentic and transformative travel, the New York Travel Festival was born in 2013. With a goal to create and foster an environment of learning, the Travel Festival caters to individuals searching for deeper, meaningful travel experiences.

a look at fmaily travel, a niche discussed at the NYTF

A look into family travel, a niche discussed at the NYTF

One Surprise:  It’s not a booth-focused event and no one is really attempting to sell you on a destination or tour (maybe just a book by an author or photographer). You are not going to walk among destination after destination here, but actually attend events based upon your travel interests and interact with the guest speakers, experts in the field.

One must do: Ask the Experts. Sign up and capture intimate time with an expert traveler to discuss types of travel, destinations, etc…

 One Destination:  Again, this is not a destination event, but Mexico has been a big partner with the event in prior years showcasing its cuisine and mezcal offering generous samples of both. (I am unsure if they will partner again in 2015).

Presenting on Mexico at NYTF in 2013

Where to Stay:  With the event on the Upper West Side, one choice is Hosteling International New York, actually the hostel will host the Sunday activities. But if you are not a hostel person and love how travel connects the world, definitely consider the One UN New York. With views of the UN, it can serve as a reminder that travel is more than a vacation for you.

Would I go again? Yes, absolutely. I spoke the first year and the many reasons to attend to the NYTF remain relevant today. You may even be able to ask me questions as one of the experts in “Experts Corner” this year (not confirmed).

Which Travel Show is for You?

Is it the The New York Times Travel Show, the DC Travel and Adventure Show, the New York Travel Festival, a different show, or even no show that is best for you? Or maybe its attending multiple shows which is best (like for me).

In any case, that is for you to decide. Each speak to a different audience and a different type of traveler. I’d recommend you attend one and focus on its strengths and explore desired destinations or even seek answers to your travel questions. Good luck.

And also, keep in mind this is a quick view inside these travel shows and festivals. If you have additional questions or comments or even want to share a memory please add your comments below. I’ll be happy to answer with my opinions as always.

Stay adventurous, Craig

Photo Credit: The DC Travel and Adventure image is via JetSet Extra and the two NYTF images are courtesy of the NYTF. I was registered as press or a media sponsor for all the above mentioned travel shows, but these opinions and findings are my own. Also, I did receive a media rate from the DC Kimpton property and was hosted by the Millennium Property in NYC.

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  • In The Loop Travel

    Thanks for this, Craig. This will; help me greatly when I head out tomorrow for the NYT event. Cheers! — JR

    • craig zabransky

      Sure thing, happy to help… Enjoy the NYT Travel Show, Stay adventurous, Craig

  • Joan

    This travel show post was so helpful! I’ve always been curious about travel shows but have never attended one. Thanks to your inspiration, I’ve now got tickets to the Boston Globe travel show in February!

    • craig zabransky

      Joan, glad it inspired, hope you enjoy the Boston show, I’ve never been to that one…. Stay Inspired, Craig

  • Mary Anne Been

    A great list of shows. I will be at the NYTF this year in April, hope to see you there :-)

    • craig zabransky

      Mary Anne, still not sure if I will be at the NYTF, but a trip to NYC is never a bad idea… stay loving NY, Craig

  • Kenny

    Going to the Boston show today. Always wondered about what are good questions to ask when you get to a certain table

    • craig zabransky

      Kenny, always wondered about the Boston show, hopefully you had a great time… As for questions, the best questions are ones that interest you… I like to ask about places I want to see, dishes (always good to ask about food) I want to taste, and usually sneak in a question about what is something most tourists don’t see or experience that you’d recommend we do…

      stay adventurous, Craig

  • Kieu – GQ trippin

    I’ve always wanted to attend the New York one — looks like they go all out and fun!

    • craig zabransky

      Kieu, it is massive…. can be overwhelming for some, but it can be a great time, absolutely. Plus, it is in NYC after all. Stay Loving NY, Craig

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