If you’re like me and L-O-V-E to travel (which I assume you do since you’re reading my blog), a fun thing to do is attend a travel show. If you’ve never been to one, you should go at least once to experience all that a travel show has to offer.
I live in the Washington, DC area (Northern Virginia, to be exact) and have attended the DC Travel & Adventure Show twice so far. The first time, I went with one of my best friends who also enjoys traveling. We had a great time walking around, seeing and talking to the vendors. We even ended up booking a girl’s weekend trip to New York City.
I really enjoyed the show, especially the 2nd time I went, but these types of shows can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect.
If you decide you want to attend one near you, a little bit of advanced planning will help you make the most of your experience.
6 WAYS TO GET THE MOST FROM A TRAVEL SHOW
1. Check out the show website to get a broad overview of the event. Learn what dates and times the show will be in the area, the location of the venue, if there is parking nearby or a metro/bus stop, the cost per ticket, and what and what the show offers.
The DC Travel & Adventure Show has something for everyone: vendors that offer information about trips in the U.S. and abroad; activities for kids such as Segway rides and a climbing wall; seminars throughout the day presented by well-known travel celebrities such as Rick Steves and Samantha Brown; cultural entertainment; food and drinks.
2. Decide whether you want to attend alone or with others (spouse/ friend/ family). It may sound odd, but this decision can definitely affect your travel show experience, either positively or negatively. How? Let me explain.
- If you go with another person who enjoys travel as much as you do, great! You’ll have a wonderful time exploring, listening to the speakers, and sharing the experience.
- If you go with someone who isn’t interested in travel, he/she may get bored, not enjoy the show, and want to leave early.
As I mentioned, the first time I attended the DC Travel & Adventure Show, I went with a friend who liked to travel. We had a great time. This year, I asked two different friends to go with me. Although neither one of my friends was able to attend, it actually worked out for the best for me.
Why? Before attending the show, I looked at the show itinerary; specifically, the speaker schedule. As it turned out, there were speakers that I wanted to see throughout the day. Although I would’ve loved to hang out with either (or both) of my friends who I invited, I knew that neither of them would have wanted to stay at the show all day. I ended up going to the show alone, wandered around at my leisure, met a lot of other travel lovers, saw the speakers I wanted to see, and thoroughly enjoyed the day.
3. Decide how you are going to get to the show. Most shows are held at venues that are close to bus routes, a metro/subway stop, and parking. Every year, the DC Travel & Adventure Show was held at the Washington Convention Center in downtown DC. Despite the fact that there was a metro stop a few blocks away, for some reason I decided to drive. BAD. IDEA.
I got to DC without incident, then proceeded to drive around for 45 minutes looking for parking. My persistence (born out of necessity) paid off and as I was going around the block to a parking garage whose entrance I missed when I first drove by, I came across an even cheaper garage. (Score!) It only cost me $7 to park for the day…unheard of in DC. However, driving vs. taking the metro cost me a lot in time and stress and caused me to miss seeing a speaker that I had been looking forward to seeing. Lesson learned.
4. Buy your ticket online in advance. Travel shows typically have hundreds if not thousands of attendees, which can mean long ticket lines. To avoid those lines, buy your ticket online and either (1) print it out and take it with you or (2) save the email receipt on your phone so it can be scanned once you arrive. Buying your ticket in advance can also save you money since advance ticket purchases usually cost less than tickets purchased at the door. Shorter lines, less money. It’s a win-win.
5. Download the show app (if one is available). With the availability of apps for anything you can think of, event planners have begun offering apps for travel shows. I used one this year and it was a huge help (and it was FREE!) The app featured the show floor plan, a list of vendors, the speaker schedule, and other helpful info.
The “speaker schedule” feature was great. It allowed me to see who was scheduled to speak, what time(s) and days(s), and at what stage. It also allowed me to bookmark the presentations that I wanted to see. Then, when it came close to the time for a presentation to begin, I received a reminder. It’s easy to lose track of time with everything going on, so I highly recommend using a show app if one is offered.
6. Immerse yourself, live in the moment, and enjoy the show! Since I attended this year’s show by myself, I was able to fully be in the moment the entire time I was there.
I met Pauline Frommer (of Frommer’s Travel Guides) at the Meet & Greet table and
was able to speak with her for a few minutes and get some pictures taken with her as well.
I got some pictures taken at the Travel Channel booth for free (“Say Cheese!”).
I saw the speakers I wanted to see, including Rick Steves.
I hope these tips help you enjoy the next travel show you attend. Have you ever attended a travel show? If so, what was your favorite part? What was your least favorite park? Please share your experience in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
As always, wishing you awesome travels,
A Traveling Broad