Attending a Travel Show for the First Time

Every year in the nation’s largest city, delegations from around the world gather to dazzle us with dreamy offerings from every corner of the globe. Various tourist bureaus, travel industry businesses, journalist and speakers converge for one weekend dedicated to that favorite fancy. I’m talking about the New York Times Travel Show.

This year is the first time I’ve gone, and let me tell you, I’ve been missing out!

The New York Times Travel Show at the Javits Center

If there’s any need for an excuse to go to New York, this event makes a strong case. New York is not a cheap destination, but registration for the show itself was only $25 per person for the full two days. I figured it would be worth checking out and if all else failed, I could easily find something else to do in the Big Apple for a weekend.

So, what is this travel show?

For 16 years, the New York Times has hosted a showcase featuring exhibitors, speakers, and experts in the travel industry. The latest statistics demonstrate the popularity of the event: 30,000+ attendees, vendors from 170+ countries, 280 speakers, over 560 booths.

They all converge at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center at the end of 34th Street by the Hudson River. The main draw is the exhibit hall, segmented by region, product, and affinity group. There were also breakout rooms with speakers talking about a myriad of topics such as the latest travel gadgets, hot destinations, sustainable travel, cruise vacations, and all-inclusive resorts. Book signings, “meet the expert” roundtables, cultural performances, and food demonstrations–there was something for everyone.

I enlisted my other half Mark to come with and take notes, so we could double up our efforts on getting the most out of the show. I think he had as much fun as I did!

Visiting California…in the Exhibit Hall

Here’s What We Did…

Experts, Journalists, and Speakers, Oh My!

Thanks to my inability to orient myself when I go to New York, we got turned around exiting the subway and arrived a bit late. I hadn’t expected the walk to the Javits Center to take quite so long either. Nonetheless, we took in several of the lectures.

“The Best Travel Gear and Gadgets of 2019”

Wirecutter staff discussed some of their favorite travel-related gadgets, apps, clothing, equipment, and tips. If there was one takeaway, I’d say “packing cubes” might have been it. I typically use Ziplock bags, but I’ve heard so much about cubes, I am going to have to try them out once and for all. If anyone reading this has used them, please let me know what you think!

Other recommendations from this session:

  • Photo Mechanic: in lieu of the cloud, this “media browser” allows photo and video storage and sharing options that were rated highly by the panelists. It does come with a licensing charge of $150.
  • Trip.com: another service much like Kayak
  • Roadside America: a website highlighting obscure gems and off-the-beaten-track destinations across the USA
  • Rome2Rio: a nifty and very handy app and website to tell you how to get from one place to another, anywhere in the world
  • InShot: video editing tool; can be used for photos too
  • ProCamera: another photo and video enhancing and editing tool (the app costs $5.99)
  • Maps.me: download maps on your phone for offline use–I used it in New York and it was very convenient!
  • Moovit: app for public transportation within selected metropolitan areas
  • Tep: portable wifi device for traveling abroad
  • Anker: tech adapters, chargers, and portable power banks
A pristine copy of the official show guide and my cell phone shadow

“52 Places to Travel With Jada Yuan”

Last year the New York Times held a contest to select one individual to travel to 52 pre-selected destinations. Of the 13,000+ applicants, Jada Yuan was the lucky winner. She discussed some of the highs, lows, challenges, and lessons learned. It was one of my favorite sessions.

The concept was so well-received that the newspaper decided to make it a permanent feature. A new “52 Places Traveler” was recently selected for 2019. I’m sure I’ll want to return next year to hear what he has to say.

I liked this session so much because it felt conversational. Sure, Jada and editor Dan Saltzstein sat in front of an audience of several hundred people. However, Jada is very laid back and did not mince words on what her experiences were like.

Jada Yuan speaking about her 52 places traveled in 2018

She touched on several of the 52 places, although there was not time for an in-depth account of all of them. Highlights that stood out for me were the remote Sao Tome & Principe islands, her logistically ridiculous flight itineraries (Zambia to the north end of Australia), destinations like Chandigarh, India; Kuélap, Peru; Matera, Italy; Akagera, Rwanda; and good ol’ New Orleans.

As much as it sounded like a dream job, the year-long trip was very difficult. Aside from travel logistics, she had real deadlines to meet in order to keep up with writing an article each week. Factor in spotty wifi, weather mishaps, illnesses, fatigue, and trying to collect fodder for her writing, I certainly don’t deny that it would be a challenge. I’m looking forward to going back and reading her stories from 2018.

There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign

Robert Louis Stevenson

“How to Navigate the Complicated World of Credit Card Points”

Mark and I both attended this talk by the Times‘ Frugal Traveler columnist Lucas Peterson, as I wanted him to get a feel for the magical world of points and miles, much as I had recently done at the Chicago Seminars. It was a good overview session, but I learned a few things too.

Lucas Peterson discusses tips and tricks when playing the travel hacking game with credit card points and miles

Main points from this session:

  • Obviously, you can’t “play” if you carry a balance. Period.
  • The “Big Three” luxury cards are Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR), American Express Platinum, and Citi Prestige. All cost over $450 per year, BUT…come with several benefits that may offset that cost.
  • Lower annual fee cards include Capital One Savor, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Barclaycard Arrival Plus, Citi Thank You Premier
  • The Chase travel portal offers the best rate at 1.5 cents per point
  • Points tend to be more flexible than miles overall, especially with Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to any airline as opposed to airline-specific miles
  • The Southwest Companion Pass can be valuable if you fly that airline a lot and want to take someone with you for free each time
  • Car insurance benefits usually come with these cards, but coverage is only for your car, not another car that you might hit
  • Call the credit card company before your annual fee kicks in and see if you can get a retention bonus or fee waiver
  • If you are done with a card, but don’t want to cancel it, you can lock it to prevent security breaches or unwanted spending
  • Google the best sign-up offers before buying, as many sites get referral bonuses for promoting cards that may not have the best value
  • Pair the CSR with Chase Freedom to maximize points
  • Don’t use points to shop on Amazon or other shopping portals; the value is usually too low of a rate
Despite the hefty fee, there are benefits that make this card worthwhile for many travelers such as myself

Other Sessions

I also attended “Is the Age of Travel Writing Over?”, a panel of three journalists who discussed how times have changed with writing travel pieces and how writers have needed to adapt to new trends. Short answer: no, it isn’t over, but it is changing.

Mark attended some of the other sessions I couldn’t: “LGBTQ Travel: Tours, Cruises, Events and Destinations for 2019,” “The Inside Scoop with Robert & Mary Carey and Rudy Maxa,” and “Discover Italy: How to Make Your Dream Vacation Come True.”

Highlights include:

A variety of resources for LGBTQ+ travel
  • Use credit card travel agents for exclusive deals not found on travel sites
  • Look up flights on the “ITA Matrix“, which is software that travel agents use to find cheaper flights
  • Expert Flyer can find you seat upgrades
  • Exchange your money at your destination at an ATM using a foreign transaction fee-free card. Foreign exchange bureaus and airport currency offices are notoriously expensive and offer poor rates.
  • Beware of brining produce; one traveler had to pay $500 because of an apple they unwittingly brought back!
  • Always get travel insurance. ALWAYS!
  • Some great destinations that have a lot to offer for the value: Uruguay, Georgia (the country), Singapore, Malta, Mexico
  • Use a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your hotel when you are out of the room, not when you are in due to safety
  • Global Entry and TSA Precheck are worth it; also CLEAR
  • Try a river cruise!

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all

Helen Keller
  • When in Rome, go to the mostly residential Monteverde neighborhood
  • Abruzzo Region and the Trabocchi Coast
  • Ischia island, in the Tyrrhenian
  • Trieste, near the Slovenian border
  • Castel Gandolfo, outside of Rome
  • Matera in the south
  • Puglia Region and Lecce
  • Taormina, Sicily
  • Classic tourist destinations: Venice, Cinque Terre, Milan
  • Sardinia
Hot destination in southern Italy

All the World in one Place: The Exhibit Hall

OK, this is where the fun is! Lectures are great, and definitely not boring, but the exhibit hall is where the action and pulse of the show is.

For me it was not about finding an agency to book a tour with, but to see all of the countries on display and learn something new about a place I may not have considered. I tried to be comprehensive, but I certainly missed several booths amidst the hubbub of everything.

Cruise companies were clustered in one area, family travel groups in another, LGBTQ travel in yet another. There were several travel gear vendors showcasing their suitcases, backpacks, travel clothing, and the like. Adventure travel included exotic destinations like Svalbard and PADI diving locations. The “Taste the World” section offered a free sample of a delicious lobster po’boy and Israel was handing out samples of wine. The continents were all well-represented with various travel agencies and tourism bureaus. Strangely missing was the Middle East, except for Abu Dhabi, which was one of the main sponsors.

South Africa’s display as one of the sponsors was larger than most

Musical performances, cultural dances, and demonstrations took place around designated pavilions in the corners of the hall. Several countries had costumed models wearing traditional or at least fanciful costumes, such as the tall headdress from Indonesia that must have been 20 feet high.

Dominican Republic, Curacao, Japan, Korea, and Indonesia featured mascots or costumed actors in feathery costumes. Almost every Caribbean island was represented. Exotic safaris, jungle lodges, and bush adventures were highlighted in the Africa section. The Cook Islands seem lovely at just about any time of year. Why had I never considered Alabama as a destination? I could have (and should have…see below) purchased a nice suitcase to lug all the brochures and souvenirs we picked up. There was even a DNA testing service available on site. With so many places represented, the options were mind-boggling. And exhilarating.

A display of the unique Georgian alphabet

Section by Section

Adventure

As the category suggests, this was dedicated to the adventure travelers. The heavy focus seemed to be on marine expeditions, including one vendor who had ice diving tours in Antarctica. Who knew wet suits were made to retain heat suitable for swimming amidst ice floes?

Buzzworthy Arctic destination: Svalbard

The San Juan Islands of Puget Sound got their own booth, as did popular student travel agency STA Travel. We talked to a few of the Antarctica outfitters for ideas and confirmation that the price range was still in the vicinity of a Kardashian weekend.

Africa

The “Dark Continent” was well represented, and I was pleased to see even some of the lesser known countries such as Lesotho, Malawi, and Zambia represented in some way. Most of the exhibitors covered larger geographic regions of Africa, or the main tourist destinations of Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, and Botswana.

South Africa was a sponsor, so they had their own booth separate from the Africa section, but smaller travel agents based in South Africa did have booths here. As with most of the exhibitors, the Africa delegation focused on rather high end tours. I liked Off Season Adventures for their commitment to sustainable tourism and Eyes on Africa for their breadth of coverage, which included places like Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

A glorious stock photo of a beach on Seychelles

Seychelles is probably the most luxury destination, though there were plenty of high end safaris on offer. Notably absent was Ethiopia, Ghana, and all of West Africa, actually. Morocco had a booth within the European contingent. Egypt’s presence was limited to the airline.

Asia

The most intricate displays and costumes were to be found in the Asia section. Japan, South Korea, China, Indonesia, and Taiwan dominated, but not to be left out were Bhutan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and Thailand.

Central Asia had a small booth and I briefly chatted with a girl from Tashkent. I somehow neglected to visit the Maldives booth, but we talked with a guy at the Taiwan booth about a 9-day bike tour around the whole island. The tours really interested me because I’m not at all a cyclist, but the slow pace of the ride, amazing destinations along the way, and focus on food made it very appealing. Anytime the road gets too hilly or difficult, they pack up the bikes and put them on a train or bus to the next destination. That’s my kind of tour! Check out Foldie Foodie Brommie Yummie to see what I’m talking about.

This was probably the least crowded part of the Asia section

Gleaming brochures of tropical islands of Thailand brought me back to when I visited Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan over 20 years ago, and now I want to go back. Things have changed so much, yet the beaches are still plentiful. I would venture to the smaller and lesser known islets that I hadn’t visited before, like Ko Similan or Ko Khai. To whet your travel appetite, check out these paradisiac destinations.

Sri Lanka was already on my bucket list, and seeing their booth just reinforced that notion. From cave temples, ayurvedic spas, tea plantations, jungle safaris, and intricate wood carving handcrafts, it’s like a bite-sized India without as much chaos and drama. Not to say that India wouldn’t lure me back in a heartbeat, but Sri Lanka is still emerging as a destination, and I’ve found those are the best places to go while they’re in the young blossoming of their tourism growth stage.

Australia & South Pacific

We had been to Australia, and for some reason I didn’t remember seeing New Zealand here, so I didn’t spend as much time in this pavilion. I had planned to go to the South Pacific this summer until other opportunities arose that postponed the idea. This was a busy section of the exhibit hall, especially the Cook Islands booth, where I most wanted to visit since there were no Samoa or Tonga delegations.

Ever since I had seen a hot deal in an email about a week’s vacation to Cook Islands several years ago, my mind has lingered on this destination as high on my list. When I spoke with the rep, he said that it’s really not a busy tourist destination in the winter months because most of their visitors come from Australia and New Zealand, which are enjoying their summer and don’t need to escape to a tropical destination. That’s why it makes an ideal, albeit far, destination for North Americans.

Tourist map of Rarotonga, the main island of the Cook Islands

While Rarotonga (the main island and location of the capital of the Cook Islands) holds the main appeal for what it offers, I’d had my eyes on Aitutaki, a smaller island and the second most popular Cook island group. This “near-atoll” has only 16 accommodation options, and from looking at the map, it’s a wonder there’s any at all given the limited amount of land area the place seems to have. That means you’re never far from sand and turquoise ocean waters. Sign me up!

Tahiti was also quite busy, and dominated by luxury resorts and high-end hotels, so I did not linger. I missed the stellar diving destination and former US territory of Palau because it was relegated to the Family section due to space issues. Fiji was curiously absent, and I mentioned I have no recollection of seeing New Zealand, but they must have been there, possibly in the Adventure section.

Travel Pirates, which I had just learned about from our Airbnb host Raul, was oddly located amidst the Australia/South Pacific booth. The company was founded in Europe, has an app, and offers incredible vacation deals that rival Scott’s Cheap Flights and other travel sites. Download this app ASAP to start seeing the deals and jump on them when you can.

Canada

The relatively small Canadian contingent stood out to me only for the display by Eeyou Istchee, focusing on the indigenous Canadian James Bay community. The name in the unique Cree alphabet is what caught my eye. Located in northern Quebec, from about 8 to as much as 16 hours north of Montreal (it’s a big region), it looks like an untouched wilderness. It would make an epic road trip someday.

Caribbean

Probably the most crowded of all sections was the lively Caribbean contingent, expectedly as the temperatures outside hovered in the twenties. One of the four corners with an entertainment pavilion (shared with Latin America), the Caribbean did not disappoint. Many dances, costumes, and musical performances entertained whoever was lucky to get close enough to see them.

The list of representative islands tantalize with their displays of pristine beaches, tropical drinks (including some live samples), lively costumes, and luxuriating vacation spas: Bahamas, Aruba, Dominican Republic, Curacao, Belize, Jamaica, US Virgin Islands, Antigua & Barbuda, Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, Puerto Rico, Anguilla, Guadeloupe, Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos, Saint Lucia, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Martinique, Grenada, and Costa Rica.

Preparing for a Carnaval demonstration at the Dominican Republic booth

In addition to individual island nations, there were booths covering multiple destinations and specific resorts, such as the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, Sandals, Dream Yacht Charter (worldwide), and Quintessence Hotel resort in Anguilla.

I was happy to see the Anguilla booth next to the Cayman Islands booth. Anguilla had prepared bags of information and looking through the materials piqued my interest in returning to this charming paradise where we’d spent a week in 2016.

Posing with two stylin’ members of the Curacao delegation, I hoped I could win a vacation by posting to Instagram. Even if I don’t win anything, it was fun and memorable, which I’m sure was part of the allure and their plan to entice visitors.

Curacao knows how to do marketing

Grenada offered samples of rich chocolate drops, along with a tasteful display of island spices. Their calendar of events could have anyone devising a way to get permanently stuck there, especially the “Flavors of Grenada” festival in May and the chocolate festival at the beginning of June.

Europe

If not the largest delegation, at least this was the one with the tallest displays and a healthy representation from its various countries and subregions.

Calabria, Puglia, and Turkey had the largest displays, but not to be outdone were Serbia, Albania, Belarus, Azores, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Ireland, and Morocco (strategically included here instead of Africa).

Belarus is beginning to interest travelers as an alternative destination

To say that I’ve been obsessed about Albania would be an understatement, so seeing their booths (yes, two!) had me trying to figure out how I could escape their for a month just to travel around. Aside from my unusual attraction to the country, it really is an emerging destination that is still not as touristed as the rest of Europe, has beautiful beaches, mountains, historical attractions, and a unique culture, all with affordable prices.

A friend of mine had gone to Belgrade and had a wonderful time. Now that Yugoslavia is long gone, and each of the Balkan countries is asserting their own individuality, it makes sense that Serbia would come out on top as one of the premier destinations in this region. Air Serbia (an Etihad partner) and Red Blue Tours had representation here, the latter featuring in-depth excursions to all over the Balkans and Central Europe.

Serbia and Puglia would be a welcome distraction from DC winters right about now

Most people my age will remember the horrific Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster of 1986, in the then-Soviet republic of Ukraine. Today the Chernobyl Tour company offers the #1 “catastrophe tourism” destination on Trip Advisor. You can enter the restricted area and feast your eyes on the surreal landscape of rusted out ferris wheels, abandoned villages, radiation symbol signs, and streets overgrown with weeds from years of decay. Since this is a restricted area, a tour is the only way to visit. Strap on that gas mask and get ready for some fallout selfies.

Chernobyl tours offer a unique option for a vacation

What I would dub as the “Iceland of today” in terms of marketing potential are the Azores. I say that because they are relatively unknown, yet I’ve seen so many mind-blowingly cheap vacation offers online. They are now starting to ramp up their tourism marketing and offering good deals, which is what Iceland did to seal its fate as a sought-after tourist destination. Seeing brochures and talking to the reps, I can see what the deal is.

The Azores are smack dab in the middle of Atlantic about halfway across from the east coast of the US to Portugal, who owns the islands. There are several islands, and all of them seem like undiscovered treasures that have witnessed little growth. They have banned high-end resorts there, allowing them to retain some of their old world charms. There are multi-colored lakes, hiking in the mountains, whale and dolphin watching, and sleepy seaside towns waiting to be enjoyed.

Poland. Sicily. Ukraine. Croatia. Faroe Islands. More incredible destinations that torture me with their pull. Altai Travel should have been in the Adventure travel section, but they seem to offer worldwide tours to unique but majestic destinations like Greenland, Nepal, Canary Islands, Oman, Finland, and Reunion. The fjordlands destination of Amot and Sunnfjord even had their own booth.

Latin America

Vying for prominence between Europe and the Caribbean was the comparatively small but strong Latin America area, including the formidable Quark Expeditions booth covering Antarctic destinations. If I had to choose a company to go to the seventh continent with, I think it would be Quark. I really enjoyed chatting with polar advisor Danny, and I’d read good things about them prior to seeing the booth. Tempting for 2020!

Guatemala and Brazil towered over the rest of them, the latter offering free samples of coffee and soda. Most of the other displays covered regions rather than specific countries.

Tikal looms on the Guatemala display next to Brazil

I saw Argentina, Ecuador and the Galapagos, and Peru represented alongside general non-Latin American travel agents. Somehow grouped here were some other vendors like G Adventures, offering small group tours, and my favorite travel clothing outfitters, Bluffworks.

The DNA testing agency, MyHeritage, was also located here. We decided to do the cheek swabs and send them in. We’ll see what the test results say about our ethnic heritage in comparison to what we’ve grown up knowing. Supposedly the results will take three weeks. It only cost $45.

Mark swabs his cheeks for the DNA test

USA

The largest contingent was from the United States, with various booths ranging from individual cities and states to regions and specific resorts. Because it was busy and I’m more of a xenophile, I didn’t spend quite as much time here. I’m certainly not opposed to spending time in any of these locations, and it was fascinating to see the range of places to go.

Several of the booths were from Florida, focusing on the beach getaways. New York state had a large display as the home state of the venue. California and Alabama were both sponsors, so their displays were highlighted.

The USA Pavilion had the largest number of booths

Alaska and Hawaii contrasted their offerings in equally intriguing displays. Provincetown and its colorful rainbow flags had a booth here and plenty of pamphlets in the LGBTQ section as well.

Notable amidst the American section were Discover Gloucester, Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, Visit North Carolina, Austin Adventures, Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority, and Louisiana Tourism. Even the Mount Washington Cog Railway from New Hampshire had its own little booth. Amelia Island (Florida) Conventions & Visitors Bureau was actually located in the Family section, but handed out one of those little backpacks with strings that I use for beachwear, so they get a shout out for the good swag.

Other Sections

Several other denominations had their own sections: Cruise, Family, Global, LGBTQ, Mexico, River Cruise, Sponsors, Taste of the World, and Travel Products.

I’m not much for cruises, although river cruises were a niche area that I hadn’t considered. Not being in the open ocean appeals to me, so I would not discount going on one. I also won’t rule out an ocean cruise liner, just as an experience in and of itself. But for this show, I didn’t linger at their booths.

Do cruises usually have ladies walking on rings in the air?

Among the vendors within the Family pavilion, “Destination Nunavut” intrigued me. The newest and most remote province of Canada, Nunavut would be an otherworldly destination. I’ve heard about polar bear sightings being de rigueur.

Nomad Planet in the Global pavilion sounds completely fascinating. It’s an organization that provides accommodations and group activities in a new city each month, allowing participants to live and work independently during the week and then converge on nights and weekends for exchange and excursions. Their flyer promoted La Paz, Bolivia for October, starting at $985 per person.

My comments about cruises notwithstanding, we met a rep from Vacaya who happens to live in DC. He’s really the one who sold me on the notion of river cruises as an option. They are doing an inaugural Provincetown cruise this summer, which would be a new destination for me. Hmmm.

Busy, busy! Sponsor MSC Cruises and the Latin America pavilion in the background

Lunch was not expressly provided, but we snacked on enough free handouts that we made it count. At the Incredible India booth, ChefNBox was dishing out a near meal-sized sample of chana masala, palak, and rice that was really good. It is a meal service specializing in Indian food that you can prepare at home, much like Hello Fresh. I would certainly try them.

Incredible India, the main sponsor

There were so many more booths and activities, I could go on even longer than I already have. Yet, looking over the program I see that I totally missed Hungary, which was one of the sponsors. Apparently American Airlines had a booth there too. And I didn’t even stop by Mexico, and I’m going there in a few weeks! It must have been the cold that I caught on my bus ride up to the show that was clouding my brain…or the fact that it was simply overwhelming in a good way.

Takeaways and What I Would Do Differently Next Time

I came away with enthusiasm for my decision to embark on a travel career, excitement for all the fun and beautiful places that I hadn’t considered as much, some new apps to download, and lots of ideas of how I could make this an even better show next year.

Greece was one of the sponsors as well

My top suggestions of how to best prepare for this type of travel show:

  1. Come prepared. I should have read up on the exhibitors and speakers to get an idea of where to go. We did look at the list of seminars on the bus ride up, but it was hastily decided which sessions to attend. I don’t regret any of the sessions I did attend, but I may have missed some and could have orchestrated it better between me and Mark splitting up to maximize getting what the speakers had to offer.
  2. Focus on specific destinations. Even though part of the fun was discovering new places or renewing interest in destinations already on my bucket list, if I had pinpointed the key places I really wanted to get more information from, it would have been more productive. Because everything was so exciting and overwhelming, and I hadn’t been before, I rushed through everything and didn’t linger to ask more pertinent questions.
  3. Meet an expert. I never got around to chatting with any of the Meet the Expert tables, which is a shame because the setting was intimate and really the crowds were minimal. Especially with destinations or affinity areas, I could have gained some real insight that could have been worth the trip itself.
  4. Read the map. I had glanced at the layout but didn’t memorize it like I might do with a city when I visit it. If I’d done that, I might have known that the Global Stage was at the far end instead of near the Israel booth, and wouldn’t have missed watching a live taping of the Family Travel Association podcast with Aaron Schlein, who had interviewed me after we met at TravelCon in Austin.
  5. Sign up for more raffles. We did put our names in for several drawings, and had our badges scanned, but not nearly as much as we could have or should have. The odds are still minuscule, and although we might get some emails over it, I should have done more of them. In addition, I should have gotten more stuff.
  6. Bring a backpack. Since we were only staying in town for the weekend, our only suitcase was a backpack with clothes, so we didn’t have an extra one to carry. I also figured we’d get bags there as free handouts, which did happen. However, all of the brochures and pamphlets and other stuff definitely add up, and while we didn’t need a lot of the extra paper, I wish I’d have grabbed more for reference and research. Therefore, a little suitcase or backpack would have been a great idea.
  7. Attend a cultural performance. Probably because I was too busy rushing through all the aisles or down to attend a lecture, there was little time to enjoy the many cultural and musical performances. They were a bit crowded, but there were seats and as they say, the early bird gets the worm.
  8. Store your bags. So this is something we actually did do on our last day. Because we were heading back directly after the show, we had brought our bags and didn’t want to lug them around all day. The coat check only cost $4 per item, and was well worth not having to carry the weight of yesterday’s brochure haul and our dirty laundry.
  9. Plan to walk a lot. It took at least 20 minutes to walk to the Javits Center from our train stop. Add to that the walking around the convention center, up and down steps to the lecture hall, and back to the train. We thankfully wore comfortable shoes, but I could have brought an extra layer or thicker sweater because it was really cold outside after that long of a walk.
  10. Take more pictures. I usually overkill it with photos, but at the end of this I realized I didn’t have the diversity or quality of photos I wanted for this type of event. Even if you aren’t planning to write a blog post about it, be sure to photograph the vendors that you enjoyed the most. Take a picture of the things that will remind you of the places you visited so you remember what was so special about them.
Just a snapshot of some of the loot we picked up at the convention

After all is said and done, I have no regrets. It was a great first time at the show, and I’ll be prepared next year to improve the experience. For me, it’s an easy 4-hour bus ride from the DC area and on a weekend so I don’t need to take off work.

Of course, no trip to New York would be complete without a little gastronomic indulgence. I’ll save that for the next post when I talk about our short but sweet visit to Astoria and my first time to the borough of Queens.

For now, that’s a wrap for the New York Times Travel Show 2019. Let me know if you found anything useful in this post. I just typed a bunch of stuff, but you can tell me if it helped you, was interesting, or inspired you to do anything towards planning your next trip. Thanks for reading this far!

My first travel show was a success! Stay tuned for the launch of Geoddgraphy in the spring

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