Category Archives: Travel Events

7 Must-Attend Travel Festivals

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Photo credit: Travel and Adventure Show

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.

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Credit: The New York Times Travel Show/Facebook

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.

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Photo credit: The Boston Globe Travel Show

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.

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Photo credit: Women’s Travel Fest/Facebook

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!

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Photo credit: TBEX/Facebook

TBEX

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.

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Photo credit: New York Travel Festival

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.

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Photo credit: Travel and Adventure Show

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.

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Photo credit: Wanderful/Women in Travel Summit

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.

JetBlue Goes Retro With Palm Springs Service

Here’s another e-mail bag item. Off and on, I get news about airlines opening pop-up shops to celebrate new routes or developments. The latest one to do so, I hear, is JetBlue.

Today and tomorrow, November 11 and 12, JetBlue will celebrate the revival of its seasonal service to Palm Springs by going all out retro. The carrier has opened up a temporary Time Travel Agency in New York City’s SoHo district that transports visitors back in time with a Mod Mid-century feel. Find decor and service reflecting this Golden Age of Flight (probably sadly missed) and get the chance to win some swell prizes too.

The address for this Time Travel Agency is at 138 Wooster Street. It’s open Friday, November 11 and Saturday, November 12, from noon to 8 p.m. Sounds groovy.

Experience Macau in Grand Central Terminal

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Do you know where Macau is geographically based? Or have you even heard of this destination? If your answer to both questions is no, don’t fret. If you’re near New York City from Thursday through Sunday, October 1-4, go to Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall to learn about this small peninsula in mainland China.

A four-day event called “Experience Macau” will showcase the destination’s cuisine, customs, and history through ongoing or scheduled presentations. One fact to get you started is that Macau was governed by Portugal for over 400 years (It was a Portuguese territory until 1999).

At Grand Central Terminal, “Experience Macau” will feature daily hands-on activities. These ongoing offerings include:

Lantern Painting
Learn more about Macau’s art of traditional lantern decoration by creating your own souvenir.

Head into a Photobooth
Snap a photo with Macau backdrops and accessories, then have it sent straight to your phone.

Macau Gallery
Take in Macau’s culture and beauty, as depicted in fine artworks displayed in an exhibit.

Trading Post
Discover spices and other cooking essentials while learning about Macau’s history of maritime trade.

Design an Azulejo
Create your very own azulejo — a Portuguese tile — to take home.

Each day of “Experience Macau” will feature various dance performances and cultural presentations. For more information, visit this website. The event is free and open to the public during these hours:

Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, noon – 7 p.m.

Portuguese Dancers Performance from 5:30 to 6 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 2, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Macanese Drummers Performance from 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Portuguese Dancers Performance from 5:30 to 6 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 3, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Dragon Dancers Performance at noon
Portuguese Dancers Performance at 2 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 4, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Dragon Dancers Performance at noon
Portuguese Dancers at 2 p.m.

http://www.visitmacauchina.com/grandcentral/

Year In Review: Travel Highs and Lows in 2014

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In getting ready to unplug for Christmas and other holiday fun, my last post for 2014 is about this year’s top travel moments. Here is a list of both my high points and low points with some takeaways.

Highs

  • Traveling across country by rail. In late August, I went to Germany with my cousin and we decided to use the Deutsche Bahn railroad system to get around. We started from Berlin to Hamburg, then on to Heidelberg, Cologne and Munich and then ended our trip in Lucerne, Switzerland. The overall experience was great and a money saver. Months before we went, I bought each advanced ticket online (my cousin gave me all the dates, times and destinations I needed to select) and printed out all of them to bring along with me. By doing this, I paid maybe between 35-55 Euros (roughly 40-60 in US dollars) per ticket. If I had waited longer, the prices would have gone higher. The D-Bahn is a very reliable service and it’s nice to be able to stare out the window while en route from one city to the other. I definitely recommend taking the train when traveling, especially abroad.
  • Going to my first TBEX. TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) is an annual conference season for travel bloggers of all types and levels that happens usually at destinations in both North America and Europe. This year marked my first time going. In September, I was at its North American conference in Cancun and overall I had a nice time. Many friends went, and some even spoke, and I got to meet well-known travel media pros like Johnny Jet and The Planet D. Next year’s TBEX Europe is in Costa Brava, Spain and there is also going to be a first-ever TBEX Asia in Bangkok. Some might debate about whether TBEX is worth going to or not but there are perks like vendor discounts and good networking ops. Plus, if you’ve wanted to go to the destination TBEX is being held in, now’s your chance.
  • Visiting Jamaica. Another travel first this year was going to the Caribbean. I got picked by Visit Jamaica’s tourism board to go on a Bucket list themed press trip in four quick but fun days. My media group ventured along Jamaica’s north coast and spent time in Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. I’ll be writing about each part of it soon but overall our trip involved cultural, culinary and thrill-seeking activities. Like going on a bobsled ride.

LOWS

  • Getting pick-pocketed in Cologne. I’m usually pretty good with nervously keeping an eye on my stuff. I messed up in Cologne when I kept leaving my purse open when I took out my camera or iPhone to take photos inside the Cologne Cathedral. I can’t remember how long it took before I realized that my wallet had been stolen. I probably was distracted or maybe it was a bump and grab move. Still, it sucked to lose my credit card, driver’s license and insurance card. Thankfully, my passport and extra Euros were still on me. I wrote about it here if you want to learn more.
  • Running out of money in Lucerne. Another thing I think I’m decent with is travel spending money and bringing enough with me. But I really misjudged prices in Switzerland. The Swiss Franc is higher than the Euro, so something as simple as a fast food combo order can equal out to 12 Francs. Or even an over-the-counter bottle of ibuprofen can cost 9 (And that was for the smallest size I could find). My cash stash ran out two days before I was to head home and I had no cards on me (I didn’t bring my debit card). My cousin gave me some money, which made me feel bad, but thanks to him I didn’t go hungry.
  • Discovering how (not so) far my dollars go. Being a freelancer for the past four years has opened up some cool travel media invites and opportunities for me. At the same, I’ve been spending more this year than I should without balancing out the difference. For 2015, I’m also looking more at closer destinations with shorter stays. As of now, my set plans start in May, as I’ll be heading up to Toronto for a weekend getaway. My goal is to get to Asia next fall (hopefully for TBEX), so in order to afford to do that I’m planning in advance now by cutting spending and cutting down on debt. And getting more work going.

Hope this year was a good one for you and that 2015 will be even better. Happy Holidays and safe travels!

How to Feel Like You’re Traveling… Even When You’re Not

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Photo by Matteo Paciotti via Flickr.com

It sucks when you feel like you can’t go anywhere. Or in reality you can’t go anywhere far.

Any traveler can get these blues. For me, as of now, my 2015 plans might have to be vague. Why? Well, the New Year is coming with higher costs (who else here is feeling insurance sticker shock?) and new priorities (like figuring out where I want and can afford to live). So, except for a press trip next week, I’m going to see what happens.

Yet, you can kind of feel like you’re traveling even when you’re not able to. It’s all about perception, right? Here are some ideas on how to act like you’re traveling… even when you’re not:

1) Go to festivals

From foods and seasons to heritages and holidays, just about any type of festival can put you in a temporary setting. And expose you to different people and well places. You might be able to sample new foods, get a bit of culture, learn a fact or two, or just let loose. Before going to your event, do a Google search to try and find possible price breaks or valid admission discounts. Check their Facebook page or Twitter handle as price-chopper offers might be posted. Travel trade shows are nice too – just watch it on your swag and brochure grabbing.

2) Go out to eat

Yes, the cost of eating out can be sketchy. So start slowly with options. Food trucks can be good for artisan or ethnic food finds. Consider lunch specials or wait for upcoming promotions like a restaurant week. Search sites like Yelp or Chowhound or your local sources for in-the-know reviews on reasonably priced but equally good places. YipIt also a good source for daily deals.

I did a post recently on communal dining, which is also another good thing. Scope out food-focused Meetup groups or register with service sites like Feastly and EatWith. Groupon or LivingSocial lists some perk deals but buy them sparingly.

3) Volunteer your time

One often overlooked way to get into travel-related events or similar offerings is to volunteer. Your assigned task can be menial but you get a behind the scenes look—and even better appreciation—of what goes into holding these events.

Back in March, I volunteered at the first Women’s Travel Fest and was delegated to manning the coat checkroom. Once coats were carefully stored, I got to listen in on lectures by some leading ladies in the travel and community sectors. Plus, I got to take Samantha Brown’s coat. Well, I was so nervous that I gave her a hanger instead of grabbing her coat first. But I recovered.

4) Give your location a second look

How often do we live in a place for years and never see everything or even our own state. Whether you’re in a city or rural section, take your car or subway or bus and scope out a different neighborhood. For that museum you’ve never considered going to–or haven’t been to since you were a kid–now’s the time to visit. Bus trips might seem lame but they have their conveniences. Sometimes I’ve been by far the youngest person on a bus trip, but for me it was easier and cheaper for getting to places this way than on my own.

Tell me what you think.

Air Berlin Ushers In Düsseldorf Carnival

photo 1Did you know that Düsseldorf’s Carnival Season lasts four months long? Last Tuesday night, Air Berlin and Düsseldorf Marketing and Tourism put on a shorter version of this German city’s colorful celebration with a reception at Blaue Gans in the TriBeCa district.

The reception featured German beers and local delicacies, and invites asked people to come in costumes. One travel writer did. Others like me put on whimsical hats or were draped with streamers by our hosts.

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We also learned a thing or two about Düsseldorf and its history with carnival. Having started this week, this street festival in Düsseldorf’s city center is made up of different segments such as the city’s ladies and youth having their turns at taking over the parade route for a while.

Even elected officials have their moment. By tradition, carnival time lets Düsseldorf’s citizens get away with poking fun at leaders through silly puppets and the like. The carnival season will be over February 18.

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And of course, in completing the night, a trio of performers had their act going.

photo 5With Düsseldorf, I actually spent maybe 40 minutes there via my connection from their airport to JFK. I was flying on Air Berlin, coming first from Geneva, and had to make it through the gate in a short amount of time to my next departure. Speaking just as a customer, their gate crew offered to switch me to a front row seat so I could get off the plane quicker to help make my connection. They suggested it. That was awesome.

 

Taking a Career Break to Travel: a Q&A with Meet Plan Go

Yes, there are days when we want to quit our jobs instantly and leave our cubicles behind. But with some advance planning, would you go ahead and do it?

If you seek to find your way in this world, while fulfilling a dream of seeing it, consider taking a career break or sabbatical. Recently, I had a virtual Q & A with Sherry Ott of Meet Plan Go – a leading career break movement in North America – on planning and taking this time off and about their upcoming conference in New York City.

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How did Meet Plan Go start?
The idea for a career break resource came into my mind when I was initially planning my trip in 2006 because I struggled – a lot.  There was no information out there about how to do long-term travel or an adult gap year from the American perspective.  I found a few books from the UK but it wasn’t the same. I was really frustrated and nervous about taking the leap but felt very alone. I mainly used the only resource out there to help plan at the time – Bootsnall.com.

Meet Plan Go actually started when I met (co-founders) Michaela Potter and Michael Bontempi in New York City after they had also recently finished a three-month career break. We decided to take our passion for the benefits of a traveling break and create a website. It started as Briefcase to Backpack and launched in 2009 and has taken off since then. Via our website and events, you’ll meet like-minded, supportive people, get tools and tips to plan your career break travels, and find inspiration to go by hearing/reading other career breakers’ stories.

How does taking a career break help a person?

Career break benefits are numerous. Most importantly, getting away from of our day-to day-routines is essential for effective thinking. Combine your career break with travel and reap even more benefits. Exposure to cultures that function differently from our own – from language to social customs to public transport – awakens the brain, alerting it to a much broader range of possibilities for being, living, and creating. You will come back to the workforce with skills other peers won’t have.

What factors should a person put into planning a career break?

That’s different for every person. But one of the first things to consider and figure out is budget. Figuring out how much you have to spend or how much you want to spend sets the other decisions in motion; where to go, how long to go, what to do. Next you’ll want to consider what you hope to get out of your break. Are you looking for time away to contemplate a career change, want to knock things off your bucket list, travel before you settle down, etc. All of these things are factors.

We have articles about the various planning choices, a free online 30-day course, and an in-person workshop on September 20 in New York City. But be careful to not get too caught up in planning. We normally recommend that you plan the first third of your trip, then leave the rest open so you can take your temperature and see what it is that you want to do next. Often when people get on the road, their desires and needs change so you need to leave things open to accommodate those changes.

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The current economy might make people hesitant to leave their jobs. Why would one still consider taking a career break?

Look, there’s never going to be the perfect time to leave your job and take a risk. Never. So stop waiting for one. You either have the desire to make change and travel or you don’t. If you have that desire, then you’ll want to check out Meet Plan Go, as we are good at fueling it. But if you want warm fuzzies and security in your decision all I can say is that I’ve NEVER talked to anyone who regretted their decision to take a break and travel – NEVER.

I recently wrote an article about how a career break actually enhances your career and learned a lot by interviewing people who used their break as career defining. You can use the time to figure out a career change or focus, or simply revitalize. You will come back with additional skills and you will stand out in a crowd of applications as someone who isn’t afraid to take risks and someone who knows what they want.

What issues might someone face when taking a career break and what can they do to handle and avoid them?

The big fear is always money. But you don’t need a lot of money to travel.  Where there’s a will there’s a way. Traveling long term is actually cheaper than living day to day in our current lifestyles. And it’s certainly cheaper than taking vacations. If you don’t have much saved up, then you explore ways that you can work on the road – which can be a really rewarding cultural experience. You can teach English, consult, teach yoga, work at a farm, house sit, and even be a tour guide.  Anything is possible, and by traveling slower and more locally, you’ll keep costs down and meet a bunch of people who will connect you to opportunities to make money if that’s what you are looking for.