If you’re a travel enthusiast like me, attending a travel show should be part of your annual plans. You should at least go once to experience all that a travel show has to offer.
I live in Northern Virginia and have attended the DC Travel & Adventure Show several times. The first time I went with a girlfriend who also loves to travel; the second time I attended alone. Both experiences were good but for different reasons (more on that later).
If you’re attending a travel show for the first time, a little bit of advanced planning will help you get the most of your experience.
1. Check out the show website to get an overview of the event. Find out what dates and times the show will be in your area, where it will be held, the proximity of the venue to parking and/or public transportation, the cost per ticket, and what the show offers.
Each year, the DC Travel & Adventure Showoffers something for everyone: vendors offering trips all over the world; activities for kids like the climbing wall; seminars presented by well-known and experienced travel celebrities; cultural entertainment; cooking demonstrations; food and drinks. They’ve thought of everything!
2. Decide in advance on your mode of transportation to and from the show. Most travel shows are held at venues that are close to a subway stop, bus route, and parking. Each year, the DC Travel & Adventure Show is held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown DC.
Last year, instead of taking the subway as I had planned, I decided at the last minute to drive instead. Bad idea! I got to DC with no problem, but ended up driving around for almost an hour looking for parking. My persistence (born out of necessity) paid off and I found parking for $7 (which is unheard of in DC). My decision to drive vs. taking the metro resulted in me arriving at the show much later than planned, causing me to miss one of the speakers that I really wanted to see. Lesson learned.
3. Decide whether you want to go alone or with others (spouse/ friend/family). It may sound strange, but this decision can impact 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 which you may not want to do.
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 and even bought a trip package for a girl’s weekend in NYC. Last 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? I went the travel show alone, wandered around at my leisure, met and traded stories with other travel lovers, saw the speakers I wanted to see, and thoroughly enjoyed the day.
4. Buy your ticket(s) online in advance.Travel shows typically have hundreds if not thousands of attendees, which can mean L-O-N-G ticket lines. To avoid those lines, buy your ticket online. There are usually significant discounts offered by the travel show organizers and other sources including Groupon. Once you have purchased your ticket, you can either (1) print it out and take it with you or (2) save the email receipt on your phone so it can be scanned when you arrive. Shorter lines, less money: it’s a win-win.
5. Use the show app (if one is available). With the use of mobile phones increasing every day, event planners have begun developing and offering apps at their events to help attendees get more value. At last year’s DC show, a free app was available so I decided to give it a try. I downloaded it and was so glad I did; it was a huge help. The show app featured a floor plan for the show, a list of vendors and the location of their booths, a list of speakers and their bios, a schedule of the events taking place throughout each day, as well as other helpful info.
The speaker schedule feature was my favorite feature. It showed who was scheduled to speak, the date(s), and the location (the event had 3 different stages). The app also had a feature that let me bookmark the presentations I wanted to see. A few minutes before a bookmarked presentation was scheduled to begin, I got a reminder on my phone. With so much going on at a travel show, it’s easy to lose track of time. The show app was a great help and I didn’t miss any speakers that I wanted to see.
6. Live in the moment and enjoy the show.When I attended last year’s show, I focused on living in the moment and had a blast!
– I met several of the featured speakers at the Meet & Greet table
– I stopped by The Travel Channel booth and got some fun pictures taken with props and cool backgrounds (“Say cheese!”)
– I saw all of the speakers I wanted to see
I hope these tips help you enjoy your next (or first) travel show. Wishing you awesome travels!
Amy Stark (aka A Traveling Broad) is a woman with a bad case of wanderlust, a valid passport, a love of photography, and a huge travel bucket list. Her love of travel began when she was young and has gotten worse with each passing year. Luckily, she’s been able to visit a variety of places in the U.S., Canada, and abroad. Through her blog, , she shares her advice, tips, tricks and lessons learned with others like her…people with curious minds and a passion for travel.