Hi friends, welcome to Wanderlust Friday! Have you ever been to a Travel Show? We had no idea about these until we saw a tweet from Rick Steves, with a behind-the-scenes vlog preview of a Travel and Adventure Show. Turns out it’s not so much for the industry people – but for us, travelers.
Lucky for us, there was a travel show coming up the following week where we live! So we went to check out the DC Travel and Adventure Show ourselves, and here’s what we found:
There are tons of industry professionals advertising destinations from far flung spots around the globe – like Safaris in South Africa, group travel tours in Iran, and bespoke luxury culture immersion in Central America – to many more who will try to entice you to spend your vacation time and money closer to home – we saw several booths for all sorts of travel adventures in West Virginia , Maryland, and Virginia, all easily accessible with a few hours drive from Washington D.C.
These destination booths by no means provide comprehensive overview of destinations either close or far from home, but they can get your excitement going and are a good starting point for trip research.
We’ve talked to a good number of travel industry professional and while not all of them managed to win us over, we got a few ideas for local travel that I doubt I would have come across otherwise. Pretty excited to check out West Virginia’s Lunatic Asylum house – the largest stone castle in the world, after the Kremlin. Bam.
Stretch your Travel Fund
We saw and heard from a lot of tour operators at the Travel Show – some do big group tours, where everyone is loaded on a big coach, follows a guide with a flag, you know the works. Others offer a much more personalized experience, from individually arranged experience with a local guide to a small group tour with a personal photographer. We think that Tours can be an awesome way to travel, and in some cases, a tour is the only way to go – for example if you want to do a Safari, or want to explore a country like Iran, where most Western passport holders are required to be accompanied by a tour guide.
This is where the Travel Show really shines – we saw a number of booths offering travel show only discounts and deals for the programs they run. The same goes for Cruise operators. Of course a tour is still big bucks, but if you are prepared to spend – it’s worth talking to the operators at the Travel Show.
If you aren’t quite looking to spend the big bucks, pretty much every other booth offers a raffle of some sort all in exchange for your personal information and email. Not sure if the exchange is a worthy one, but then again no one is forcing you into it. And what if you win?! I am not going to say we didn’t fill out a few of the forms ourselves…still waiting for that “You are the Winner!” call from West Viriginia…
If raffle isn’t your thing, you can always stock up on freebies – we got lots of candy, some booze (not kidding!), a few nice notebooks (!), a fuji instant picture from the Japan Rail travel booth, and lots and lots of travel brochures (I actually regret that last one as now they are all in a recycling bin, and I feel like we wasted many tree lives).
Furry Friends and Delicious Eats
Ok, so who doesn’t love cute animals and delicious food? Silly, rhetorical question! So if you attend a Travel Show, you will come across both. The animals are part of SeaWorld ambassador program, which promotes conservation. Informative and pretty endearing.
The food, well, it’s delicious. We attended a live presentation given by the Busch Garden chef, and got to taste test which was neat. The two days that the show was running, there was also separate stage setup throughout the two days, with lots of presentations – which if you get hangry perusing all the booths and attending travel talks, is the perfect fix.
Ok, so we saved the best for last. Our favorite part of the show were the travel talks. The reason we found out about the travel show, and the reason we thought of attending was Rick Steves! Now, long long time ago – Rick Steves national geographic show inspired and informed our honeymoon planning to the Dordogne region in France. Now we had a chance to meet him!
And, have to say, his talk absolutely knocked it out of the park. Here are some gems he dropped:
- Art should be fun – if it isn’t, you aren’t doing it right.
- Hang out with the locals to broaden your perspective on the country you are visiting, on the culture, the world – that’s the greatest travel souvenir.
- We are conditioned not to be there when we are tourists — remind yourself to be in the moment, to participate and take in the act of living, rather than sightseeing. DOn’t just take a picture, and call it a day.
- Did you know that traveling is safe? As soon as you get out there, you’ll realize that hte rest of the world is getting on pretty well.
- Ruin castles are the best attraction – at least in Europe where they are free (how many attractions do you know of in Europe, that are free?!)
Let’s see – we also attended talks by Patricia Schultz, the author of 1001 Places to See Before You Die, and Pauline Frommer of, you know, the Frommer guide books, heard about tips for taking travel photographs, and heard suggestions on everything from how to pack our suitcases to staying safe in destinations that might be a tad turbulent. Yes, we knew most of these, and lot of them were common sense. But, the travel nerds in us still kind of loved nodding along.
Travel and Adventure Show Bottom Line
All in all – we thought that a few hours at the Travel and Adventure Show on a Saturday or Sunday is a neat and worthwhile experience regardless of whether you have upcoming travel plans or you just need something to tie over your wanderlust. And at just $11 a ticket hardly a splurge if you love travel brochures, have luck in raffles, like seeing exotic animals, or want to stalk some of your favorite guide book authors!
We attend the show as part of the Press corp, which means we didn’t pay admission, but as always all opinions are our own and we tell it like we see it.