Since moving to New York one of my major regrets thus far is never having gone to one of the many conventions or conferences that have come into town. It seems like there is always something new going on- BeautyCon, Comic Con, Brunch Con (yes its a thing), KCon, etc... So when I discovered that The New York Times was hosting a travel show I knew I needed to buy a pass and check it out.
The Travel Show ended up being such an amazing experience. Overwhelming, but definitely amazing. There were so many interesting booths that I actually got a little dizzy in the beginning because I didn't know where to start and everywhere I looked there was just something else that was new. I had to spend a few moments orienting myself with the exhibits map because I knew I wanted to see EVERYTHING. Luckily, I had glanced over the seminar schedule in advance (thank god) and had already planned out my day so I wouldn't have to waste a moment and possible miss a great speaker (yes I definitely have a Type A personality). All in all, I benefited so much from attending the Travel Show and I strongly recommend checking it out in future years if you're in the New York area. I know I'm already counting down the days until the next conference!
TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF A CONVENTION
1. Buy your tickets in advance and not at the door. You don't want to be stuck wasting your time in some long line and miss half the day. I purchased my badge well in advance so I was even able to get it in the mail and skip the badge registration line and breeze right in. If you decide last minute you want to attend, definitely come early to beat the crowds.
2. Remember to bring your badge! Otherwise, its pointless that you registered in advance because you'll still have to wait in line...
3. Plan your day out in advance. If you're really excited about lots of speakers and exhibits, then chances are so is everyone else. You'll want to look at the schedule in advance so you aren't wandering around trying to figure out last minute what you want to do while the speaker sessions fill up.
4. Learn, Experience, and Explore! This is your chance to find out about things you've never heard about or didn't know existed. At conventions, you're literally paying for the knowledge and the experience so don't waste your time by gravitating towards things you're comfortable with.
One of my favorite seminars, The Frugal Traveler, gave me some good ideas on how to find the best deals out there without lowering my travel standards, but also without breaking the bank. Here are some tips The Frugal Traveler spoke about:
- Sign up for price alerts on deal websites, like Travel Pirates, so you're in the know whenever cheap prices appear.
- Travel is all about experiences now and some of the best websites that provide these experiences abroad are: Ifonly.com, Vayable, Visit.org, and Airbnb.
- Look into hotel alternatives such as Airbnb, Guest to Guest (home exchange), private rooms in hostels, and Tripping (aggregator of vacation rentals) as that really lowers the cost of a vacation.
He also clarified the myth that certain days offer "better" plane ticket prices. I've always believed that buying tickets on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings around 2 months in advance provides the best chance at getting the best prices, but apparently not... It's just luck I guess! One thing he said that really stood out to me was that most people earning a modest salary have can afford travel (at least to somewhere), but its a matter of priority for most people. If you are serious about wanting to go to Florida or Cuba or China, then maybe consider eating at home more instead of dining out or saying no to a bunch or nights out on the town or putting that $300 bag back in the store where it belongs.
I also had the opportunity to hear Andrew Zimmern from the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods speak about his experiences traveling and eating all over the world. Truthfully, I was filled with envy during his entire talk because who doesn't want to travel the globe and eat unique foods while getting paid for it! I wish it was my job!
I ended the day with a talk by Anthony Falco, the "pizza guru" who is the head chef from Roberta's in Brooklyn. If you've visited New York and you haven't eaten pizza at Roberta's then you're seriously missing out because its delicious. To hear Anthony's inspirational story of how he got into pizza making (it was mainly because he wasn't doing well working a tech job and just couldn't compete with the thousands of talented techies out there) and how he managed to become an international pizza consultant (another envy worthy job!) made me realize that there is truth in turning your passions into a lifelong successful career as long as you work hard. Anthony travels around the world now advising different chefs and restaurants on how to make the best pizza- he flew to Japan for months last year to study how the Japanese make their pizza just so he could properly advise his client who was based in Kuwait. If that doesn't sound like an amazing job, then what does?
The booths were set up to discuss new travel opportunities and give us a sneak peek into all the difference places that people can now vacation at. I loved talking to representatives from Belarus and Rwanda and learning all about what their countries offered in terms of tourism. Both countries were places I had never previously considered for travel and it was interesting to find out the different points of interest located in each country. I found out about some awesome tour opportunities to Cuba and that while its still possible for US citizens to travel there, going on an "educational" tour is now mandatory (there is no more freedom travel). I spoke to Intrepid Travel about the possibility of going on a 6 day food tour to Jordan and made promises with myself to add it to my long list of must see countries.
There were many cultural performances put on by different regions and exhibitors throughout the day. These performances gave a sneak peak into what travel to those countries might be like and offered a different type of travel education insight. I loved the Japanese ninja performance and the Irish traditional dance!
If you're interested in learning more about the New York Times Travel Show, more information can be found here.