I have always wanted to travel the world. Sure, I’ve been to a few countries; Mexico, Honduras, and Canada, but that’s not enough. I want more!
While you can surf the web and learn about different travel destinations, activities, and costs, nothing beats being able to talk to people from various countries and get information first hand. That’s where attending a travel expo comes in.
My friends at TravelShows.com graciously allowed me media access to their last show of the year in Dallas and it was an amazing weekend of presentations, guest speakers, and travel inspiration. I came home with an even stronger yearning to travel more, now it’s just a matter of choosing where to go next.
Travel shows are typically held during the first few months each year. While there are some that come around throughout the year, The Travel and Adventure Expo typically start their season in January and end in March. That is when most people start to think about late Spring and Summer travel plans, especially when you have children and need to get that family vacation in before school starts in the Fall.
Travel expos are like a one-stop-shop for everything travel. There are tourism representatives from all over the world gathered in one place which makes it super easy to get all the information you need about a destination. I will note that I did not see a strong representation of the airline industry. There were a couple of booths representing some smaller airlines, however, the major players were absent.
There are also amazing guest speakers at expos that typically are travel experts. Two experts that I was lucky enough to not only hear speak but also meet were Pauline Frommer, editor of Frommer’s Travel Guides and Patricia Schultz, author of “1,000 Places To See Before You Die”. Both of these amazing ladies have their fingers on the pulse of travel. Their knowledge and insight into travel are quite impressive.
Besides what could be considered keynote speakers, there are typically experts on various travel subjects such as budget travel, packing tips and hacks, best times to book, etc.
Oh, I almost forgot! How I don’t know considering the crush I had on this person all through high school. Another wonderful speaker at the expo was Andrew McCarthy. If you have ever seen the movie “Pretty In Pink”, you’ll know who I’m referring to. He has written a wonderful book about his life journey and works with National Geographic on a travel series. His insight into travel and his experiences were so inspiring.
The Travel and Adventure Expo has over 200 booths representing destinations from all over the world. If your travel desires keep you in the U.S., you can find anything from surfing the California Coast to diving in Florida to fishing in Alaska. The great thing is that the experts are right there for you to talk to. They travel from their respective states and know all the great places to see, eat, and the best adventures to take.
Maybe your travel dreams are more like ours, warm and sunny with lots of beaches and salt water. Well, the Caribbean is well represented at travel expos. Ever wanted to try SCUBA diving? Go ahead, there’s an indoor pool with instructors waiting for you inside the expo. The Cayman Islands are known for amazing diving and they bring along the gear, pool, and experts to help you find out of diving is for you. Here’s a tip – Try it! You’ll love diving!
Perhaps you want to go somewhere with beautiful beaches but no high-rise mega condos with less of a crowd? Try Roatan or Utila in Honduras. We have traveled to Roatan multiple times and absolutely love it.
Maybe you are more adventurous and want to go somewhere a little less “touristy”. How about taking a trip to Cambodia? Or perhaps you may consider going to Russia and witnessing the amazing Russian dancers and see all the beautiful architecture. That’s the great thing about the expo, so many countries are represented and have experts to help you along with tons of literature and travel guides.
Of course, no travel expo would be complete without the cruise industry being represented. True, there are a lot of cruise options out there these days, but one type of cruise has been growing in popularity over the years – river cruises. I know, when you hear the term river cruise you think of the more mature traveler and not a fun-filled, jam-packed ship. True, river cruises are not the mega ship, 4,000 passengers, water sliding, endless food vacations that you see advertised on T.V.
They are typically no more than 120 like-minded people who enjoy a slower paced, more cultural experience. The excursions are typically geared more towards architecture, food, culture, etc. They are currently mostly in Europe however there are river cruises up the Mississippi River that can be quite interesting.
One thing I love about travel expos is all the interesting people you can meet from all over the world. Europe has always been a popular travel destination, particularly France but Switzerland really piqued my interest after I spent some time visiting their booth.
When I think of Switzerland I instantly think snow, cold, and definitely not somewhere I want to go. I do not like the snow at all and I can’t stand to be cold.
What I learned is that their summer temps are actually quite nice and fairly mellow. There is also an amazing train ride that takes you all through the countryside and stops at quaint little villages, places that are more off the beaten path. That’s my type of travel, adventure without danger!
Of course, being at the expo, I just had to participate in some of the interactive booths and Switzerland’s was so much fun – look I’m holding a balloon in the Swiss countryside!
I must admit, walking through the expo, I was inspired to take trips to places I’ve never considered and do things I never thought of doing. That’s the beauty of travel expos, they inspire us to think outside our travel box.
As Andrew McCarthy said at the Dallas Travel Expo, “Travel is the last best hope for the world”. Don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from traveling to a new and foreign land. Let the excitement of learning about a new place be the guiding force to go and experience something a new culture.
So, is it worth it to spend the time and money to visit a travel expo? Absolutely! Even if you aren’t sure where you want to go, you’ll find plenty of inspiration and information to help you make a decision.