For many reasons, I enjoy going to travel festivals.
First, they make you feel as though you’ve seen the world and can still be home in time for dinner. Second, vendors often hand out perks you want to actually grab up, including discount coupons, products for sale at special show rates, free food/drink samples, and contest giveaways. Third, there are talks by travel experts on everything from destinations to money-saving trips, to niche markets – you most likely will find a lecture you want to sit in on. Plus, or fourth, some travel shows cater to those who want to turn their passion for travel into a professional pursuit.
If you’re seeking inspiration, advice on where to go this year, or help with becoming a travel pro, here are seven travel festivals worth attending.
The New York Times Travel Show
Usually held in January, this travel show takes over an entire show floor of the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. It’s easy to navigate, as destinations and travel industries and niches are divided into pavilions. Europe is in one area. Africa is in another. So are Asia and South/Latin America. The USA has its wing, so do niche markets like river cruises, adventure travel, and wellness. It can get packed, but be patient and wiggle your way up to a booth or good viewing spot. The weekend program includes seminars by top travel industry names (like guidebook author Arthur Frommer, and his daughter, Pauline Frommer), book signings, and cultural/culinary demos. The 2017 show will also feature a new Family Travel Pavilion, offering various kid-friendly activities.
The Boston Globe Travel Show
While I’m biased towards New York, other states are sites of good travel shows. The Boston Globe puts on one every year, with 2017 being in early February at the Seaport World Trade Center. I haven’t been to it yet, but from looking at their schedule, it looks like a good one. Their three-day schedule includes cultural performances and speakers such as Patricia Schultz, author of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” One neat offering is a Craft Beer Pavilion, where breweries from New England and other parts of the United States will offer samples of their suds. You have to buy tickets to get in, but the price includes show admission.
Women’s Travel Fest
Hey, ladies: this annual March weekend conference puts you in good company. My friend Kelly Lewis organizes this event, which changes location every year, scheduling a program that provides information and inspiration. Discussions will focus on common concerns such as personal safety and health needs, but also first-hand perspectives on overcoming challenges and finding your inner strength. Past speakers have included THINX Co-Founder and “SHE-EO” Miki Agrawal and Travel Channel host Samantha Brown, along with noteworthy travel writers and experts. On the main day, there are vendor booths with products and services ranging from personal care goods to tour offerings. The last day of the event tends to focus more on workshops. Past Women’s Travel Fests have been held in NYC and San Francisco, and the 2017 conference is going to New Orleans!
Travel blogging is emerging as a growing and credible market, but learning how to turn a blog into a profitable and continuous brand is the trick. This three-day conference, with versions in North America, Europe, and Asia, brings in travel experts/bloggers who have made names for themselves within their respective areas. They lead sessions on everything from SEO, social media, and technology, to business partnerships and marketing. I’ve attended three so far, and I find that you meet travel bloggers who are at different stages: starting out, in the middle, and established. Another thing I like about TBEX is its rotating locations. They provide the opportunity to see destinations like the Philippines, Sweden, and Israel, or ones that don’t first come to mind like Huntsville, Alabama.
New York Travel Festival
Again, back to New York City. Every mid-April, this ongoing festival emphasizes all aspects of travel and switches up its programming and host venues around the city. What makes it different is that the festival’s format extends to consumers, travel industry professionals, and those who seem to be in between. Discussions really drive this multi-day event, with tracks, discussion panels, and individual presentations. One room may have a talk on diversity in travel, another might converse about visiting Cuba or Antarctica, and an additional one could be highlighting local exploration. Tickets vary depending on your interest or background and access to certain sessions.
Travel and Adventure Show
I’ve heard about this travel show through friends who went to, or spoke at, its Washington, D.C. edition. While this January event has already passed, the Travel and Adventure Show carries onto other cities across America – Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, and San Diego. It’s said to attract top travel experts like Rick Steves, Samantha Brown, CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg, and airline expert Johnny Jet. This traveling show also puts on various educational seminars, cultural presentations, and culinary showings. Its yearly schedule kicks off in January and runs through April.
Women in Travel Summit
Organized by Wanderful, a global women’s travel community, this female-focused summit provides attendees (primarily women’s travel influencers and industry members) with resources to fully enhance their digital presence. Basically, it centers on women who are their own “girl boss.” Beginner and advance-level info sessions are divided into three tracks: lifestyle (all about traveling), media (the business/tech side of blogging) and entrepreneurship (business and marketing strategies). The Women in Travel Summit, also known as WITS, is now in its fourth year. Its 2017 edition will meet in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this April.
See each festival’s website for information about tickets and a full schedule. Also, let me know what travel events/festivals I’m missing.