These days, there are so many ways to learn about places to travel in the U.S. and abroad. A Google search away you can find a treasure trove of sites (like this one!) with topics from “top X fill-in-the-blank” to “Y on a budget” to tourist boards’ plethora of information about any given destination. You can also get your question answered on any given platform, for example, by just tweeting your question and hoping the tweet-o-sphere responds back.
On the more “analog” side of things, the options may be more limited but if you are lucky to live in a number of cities in the U.S. (or be able to get to one of them, like I do), the Travel and Adventure shows (which take place in cities like D.C., L.A., Chicago, Dallas and others) are a fun and efficient way to “visit” destinations all in one day (keep up with them at @TravAdventure). These shows pull in a large number of information and service providers in the arena of travel and adventure, making it easier to scan a larger number of destinations, asking questions from a live human being, and even listen to some famous travelers share their story (including many TV travel show hosts). In addition, these shows often have some of the fun things you could experience in travel right there for the visitor to try out.
Doing the show
I have been to three of these shows in the last two years and I always enjoy the energy of the people who come to the shows. I do get there early as it is easier to talk to some of the folks with a booth. I try to pick an aisle of top interest to me and then start there while the crowds are making their way in.
I am not a big fan of listening to celebrities myself but there are plenty of those to listen to (and some are quite good!) – and the bigger the name, the earlier you want to grab a seat so you can be there up close.
Also, if you decide to partake in the activities by trying out scuba diving or climbing a rock wall, the earlier you get there, the shorter the line!
I normally spend a few hours there which brings me to the topic of food. It feels like the options are finally growing but it is relatively expensive so, if you are on a budget or just rather save the money for that trip, pack a protein bar or something else and save money that way. The show itself costs little for the amount of value and, yes, entertainment it provides.
Value to travelers and presenters
I spoke with some presenters and participants about what value they derive from the show. Some presenters are from very specific destinations, like counties, while others represent an entire continent, like Africa. Some presenters are tour providers, lodging providers, or tourism boards. The variety makes it appealing and valuable regardless of what you are contemplating doing. In my recent visit to the DC Travel and Adventure show, I learned that Pennsylvania has a canyon and great trails in Tiago County, up in the northern part of the state. I also learned about Duchess County and the Hudson River Valley in New York – an amazing depth of history, nature, architecture, and even food and wine (including the oldest winery in the U.S.). I go to the show open to talk to many of the presenters to see what I may discover. It doesn’t disappoint.
That was a sentiment other visitors expressed. Kimberly Robson, of Washington, D.C. told me how five years ago she went to the show looking for inspiration for adventure travel. She found it in the form of a non-profit organization that puts together treks around the world to help orphaned children. She was not quite envisioning that type of service opportunity but the show gave her the opportunity to learn about this organization with which by now she has trekked three times to Guatemala, Thailand, and Romania.
From the presenters’ standpoint, the value seems to be generating awareness which, fortunately for both, mirrors the objective of the visitors. From sharing about a lesser known county in a neighboring state to providing more depth of awareness into a more well-known destination, the presenters aim to broaden the network of potential visitors or “leads.”
The DC Travel and Adventure show has been running now for 10 years and the company is expanding into new markets like Philadelphia. I can’t wait for the day they decide to open the doors for the South to dream and explore about travel and adventure by doing a show in my hometown of Atlanta!