Bibliophiles have Book Expo America. Comic lovers have ComicCon. Electronics hobbyists have Maker Faire. And travel bugs have the New York Times Travel Show, the annual mecca for nomads, vagabonds, or wannabe-wanderers. Held each January at the Javits Center in New York City, the NYTTS is the largest trade and consumer travel show in North America, hosting over 500 exhibitors from 150 countries.
This year, BE. sent a correspondent to scope out the travel show and report back on the greatest hits for those of you who couldn’t attend in person. Stay tuned for more in-depth travel pieces on what we learned there, but for now, check out our top ten reasons why you should get tickets for next year’s event!
1. Discover new travel destinations
You’ve got your must-see list of travel destinations guiding you, covering all the major locales: Western Europe, Australia, maybe even the Amazon rain forest. But there’s a huge, beautiful world out there that perhaps you haven’t considered yet. I didn’t even know how badly I wanted to go to Laos and Istanbul, or take the tasting tour of Vermont distilleries (which exists! Vermont just got so much cooler in my book) until I discovered these possibilities at the Travel Show.
2. Sample some cultural experiences
In addition to exhibitor booths and seminars, the travel show has a full schedule of cultural shows. From adorable children singing the Lithuanian national anthem, to Carnival dancers from Tenerife, you’ll see a ton of cultural exhibits. Sure, luaus are now the most touristy part of Hawaiian culture, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t totally fun to see hula dancers in real life.
3. Discover new ways of travel
After attending the travel show, I’ve added two new trips to my “dying to take” list—and I’d never even thought about either of them before. There are a lot of standard ways to travel—cruises, a backpacking trip with a tour company, renting an apartment on Air BnB and taking day trips from your metropolitan headquarters. But why not consider a train trip on the Trans Siberian railroad through Southeast Asia? Or captaining your own party yacht down the canals of Southern France? These unique travel experiences are just waiting for you to discover them in the halls of the Travel Show. Just consider all the bragging rights awaiting you on your return from self-navigating a boat through historic Venice!
4. Learn from the experts
Over the course of the two full days open to the public, the Travel Show has a continuous schedule of seminars where you can learn about every aspect of travel you have questions on. This year there were talks on maximizing your airline miles, hot destinations for 2015, how to plan an African safari, what you’re missing by skipping over cruises and a discussion of the outlook for travel to Cuba, among other topics.
5. Taste test
The Taste of the World kitchen hosts samplings and seminars with food editors, chefs and travel gourmands like Sam Sifton and Mimi Sheraton. Not to mention little tipples and treats in the exhibitors booths! Original-recipe British Cadbury, anyone?
6. Win free (or cheap!) trips
Practically every booth in the whole show is hosting some sort of giveaway, and there’s nothing stopping you from entering every single one. Whether you enter to win a box of premier Argentinian wines, a gift certificate towards a cruise of your choice, or an all-inclusive trip to Martinique, the opportunities for swag go beyond the travel t-shirts and passport holders. Not feeling lucky? Maybe you don’t win a dream vacation, but hang around the charity silent auction for the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association Education Foundation and you might just score yourself a trip to Curacao (or other Caribbean destinations) for 50-80% off.
7. Meet your travel idols
I can’t be the only one who has travel idols, right? Each year, the NYTTS has a full line-up of travel writers and rock stars at book signings and seminars. From Marybeth Bond of “Girlfriend Getaways” to the Frommers, you can meet the headliners of the travel world and maybe even solicit a few personalized recommendations.
Whether it’s over massive posters of crystal-clear Fijian waters or that Aussie travel agent’s accent, you’ll be salivating over something at NYTTS. Talk about #travelenvy.
9. Shop the sales
Even if you don’t win a free vacation or snag a cheap charity trip, that doesn’t mean you will walk away with nothing! Many exhibitors offer special promotions to show visitors if you book that day or within a few days after. While we wouldn’t encourage you to go a book a trip to South Africa on a whim just to save 10%, if you’ve been planning a trip anyway, come prepared with your research and see if you can score a bit of a discount. The key is coming prepared, and knowing what your trip would ordinarily run you.
10. Learn cool travel facts
If you spend a lot of time studying maps, first, I applaud you, and second, you’ll probably laugh at these “cool facts.” But many of us maybe didn’t realize that the city of Istanbul straddles two continents, or that the country of Fiji is comprised of 333 separate islands. And those of you who didn’t realize these things maybe had your mind blown when you found out. Spending the day speaking with representatives from 150 countries means you’re bound to learn a thing or two you never knew—which not only will spike your travel fever, but will give you new fodder for happy hour, or help you win your next pub trivia match.
Whatever the reason, one of these, or one of your own, we’ll be seeing you at the Travel Show next year!