Travel and Adventure Show that takes place in multiple cities throughout the country. Washington DC was the last stop of the tour for 2013 and I was quite eager to get out and meet up with dozens of great travel companies and tourism boards while researching for our upcoming trips. As it turns out, most of Washington DC had the same idea as the show was full of activity from every day travelers, writers like us, travel agents, and companies.
Great Companies and Agencies
One of the things I really loved about the Travel and Adventure Show was the companies and tourism boards that were there; and there were hundreds of them. You could quite literally walk into the show and within minutes be finding info about nearly every country in the world with some of the best experts there are.
For example, we were talking with the tour company Intrepid Travel about their Africa treks and new food tours in places like Mexico and Turkey and then just 5 minutes later ended up in front of reps from the tourism boards from each of those places continuing the conversation. Not to mention that 5 minutes after that we were talking to yet another company about travel insurance, then submitting some of our favorite travel photos for a contest at yet another booth. Continue this trend for two days and that is what the Travel and Adventure Show is all about.
The ability to jump around from country to country and learn about places all over the world is such an exciting part of the convention. In DC the booths were arranged mostly by region such that a full two aisles were dedicated to North American companies, one aisle for Caribbean nations, one for Africa, and a few more for International. I was even caught by a rep from Saint Kitts that noticed I was walking back and forth in the Caribbean row quite often to which my reply was "I love the Caribbean!" After hitting 10 islands there, including St Kitts, I can easily say that I do!
For those who are unsure on where they want to go next and learn about as many place as possible the Travel and Adventure show is a great place for you. In fact, even people like us who research travel every single day learned quite a bit from the reps from the various countries and have now made us alter our future travel plans because of little aspects we did not know (seasonal weather, peak seasons, etc). Going to the source for this level of detail is what the show is all about.
Presentations from Industry Leaders
A great feature about the show is that it is a high profile event that brings in many travel professionals that are famous on an international level. The keynote speakers in DC's show included Andrew Zimmern from Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods (one of my favorites) as well as travel guru Rick Steves. With names like that you know the crowd will be massive, and the few hundred seats at the side of the convention hall were jammed packed for all of the presentations. Listening to Andrew Zimmern talk about his experiences on the road and enjoying a demo of cooking geoduck is an experience you definitely need to have.
But the speakers are not all about big name travelers in the industry. Many of the companies at the show give short 30-60 minute presentations about their business, different locales around the world, and on just about every topic you would be interested in hearing. One of our favorites was Karen Zulauf from Deeper Africa who presented the topic of Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, complete with amazing facts and stunning guest photos. As you can imagine, it is now on our list.
Demos and Hands On Attractions
As if all of the booths and speakers weren't enough to attract us to the convention, the demos and hands on features were definitely an added perk. From the culinary stage with near continual cooking demos going on (we sadly had no time to sit and watch) to Busch Garden's animal exhibits, an indoor heated dive pool, and a how-to fly fish demo, there was something for everyone. Many of the booths even had interactive features like SCOTTEVEST where you could try on their multipurpose vest or local adventure companies with mock hang gliding harnesses to show visitors what it is like to hang on the craft.
One Word of Warning - Make Room
After visiting the trade show for both days (although just one for Angie), I can easily say that we met with about 75% of the attendees at the show. This translates into a lot of knowledge gained and the collection of a great stack of brochures, deals, souvenir t-shirts/gear, and paperwork that we brought home with us. We were just glad that many of the booths were giving away souvenir bags because we filled up four quite large ones over the course of the two day event as well as several pages of a notebook we took and jotted down notes on from our favorite places. We suspect that if you attend this conference in the 2014 season you'll be in the same situation, so we highly recommend making room in advance for all the amazing literature you will pick up along the way.
Although the trade show has ended for the 2013 season (Washington was the last stop), put a note on your calendar for the 2014 show which will just be a few short months away! If you are planning a trip or just interested in learning about new places, this show is definitely for you.