New York Times Travel Show 2012

Last weekend, the New York Times hosted its annual travel show at the Javits Center in New York City. Unlike most trade shows, this one dedicates one day to travel industry professionals and the following two days are open to the public. If you have never been to a travel show, and are interested in travel, I highly recommend that you attend at least one.  Here are a few things you could expect to help you prepare for the experience.

A Lot of Information
On the main convention floor, hundreds of booths are organized in a row by continent, then by country. In the case of the United States, booths are further broken down by state. Pamphlets, maps, and magazines containing endless information are piled high on tables with representatives standing at the ready for your questions. Some booths even hold contests to give away free trips or stays. Leave your information and a lucky winner’s name is drawn at an appointed time.

Throughout the day, attendees can participate in seminars that discuss a specific top of travel. These one-hour talks either have a panel of experts or only one speaker. Travel industry leaders like Arthur and Pauline Frommer of Frommer’s Travel Guides offered tips on the hottest travel spots for 2012. Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown, demystified the glamour of being a TV host by sharing some of her embarrassing moments while on the road. One seminar panel discussed African safaris while another panel gave tips for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) travel. I attended a particularly useful seminar on traveling to Cuba, now that the Obama administration has opened up person-to-person travel experiences for Americans wishing to visit Cuba.

Culture Exhibited
Your five senses may be assaulted when visiting individual booths since representatives do their best to let you experience the uniqueness of their country’s culture.

Sri Lanka, Barbados, and Ecuador are just a few countries that had a small group of performers in traditional clothing perform a dance routine.A weaver made baskets from scratch at the New Hampshire booth while a patient sand sculptor created a castle with his hands and a few tools at the New Jersey booth. A booth for Thailand gave away a small sample of Thai food and Morocco’s booth was a tall structure that reflected the dominant Islamic architecture of the country with its uniquely arched doorways and intricate carvings.  Even Sea World, an amusement park chain in the United States, had a diving tank for kids.

Crowds
Hundreds of people attend the travel show so it can get crowded especially at popular seminars or booths. Prepare to manage the crowd you will meet in advance. Prior to arriving, look at the list of exhibitors and speakers for each day to determine which talks you would like to attend and booths you would like to visit. It is impossible to see and speak to every representative but if you prioritize the list of places you want to see, you’ll maximize your time rather than just aimlessly wandering. If you have questions about a particular place, jot them down for the representative.

With that said, be flexible with your agenda. If there are places that become more interesting when you are there, then explore and learn more about them!  For me, this country has become even more appealing in light of my recent occupational change.  The purpose of the NY Times Travel Show, and any travel show for that matter, is to help you dream about or plan a future trip or encourage you to visit a place you never considered seeing before. Hopefully, it will inspire you to pack your suitcase and hit the road!

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