Category Archives: Travel Festivals

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/

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.

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.

5 Reasons for Going to the New York Travel Festival

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Got bit by the travel bug? Want to see more places but not sure where to go next? Then spend next weekend (April 26 and 27) at the New York Travel Festival, to learn more about seeing around the world from those who are already doing it.

At this two-day event in NYC, the who’s who of experts in both consumer and industry travel will be on hand to give straight-up advice minus the sales pitch. The festival opens on Saturday, April 26, at Bohemian National Hall, at 321 E 73rd Street, and then on Sunday, April 27, switches over to Hostelling International-New York, at 891 Amsterdam Ave.

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To firm up your travel plans, here are five good reasons for going to NY Trav Fest:

1) Have One-on-One Time
Seeking personal travel advice? An “Experts’ Corner” gives NY Trav Fest ticket holders the chance to pre-schedule brief meetings with participating experts. This college of travel knowledge will cover just about every destination (including Antarctica) and travel type (family, solo, budget, gay-friendly). Experts include “Nomadic Matt” aka Matt Kepnes; adventure filmmaker/TV host Ryan Van Duzer; Tawanna Browne Smith of “Mom’s Guide to Travel”; and Associated Press travel reporter Scott Mayerowitz.8701129516_a423200acd_z


2) Let’s Be Technical

From apps to maps, technology keeps changing how we travel. Mostly for the better. Open to everyone, “Travel 2.0 @ #NYTF” is a special daylong seminar with sessions highlighting the direction that travel tech is heading. Talks will focus on how mobile and social media are influencing travel such as one led by Google employees Ting Ting Yan and Sarah Robinson. Held in conjunction with Travel 2.0, a networking group for travel startups, innovation and technology, “Travel 2.0 @ #NYTF” will also welcome area travel startups that will showcase their products and services as well.

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3) Get Down to Business
From travel agents to tourism board members, Saturday’s portion of NY Trav Fest will have specific content just for you. In industry-only tracks, learn more about hot business topics and trends on improving business and customer relations. Masterclasses and workshops also are part of the weekend format, with sessions also covering the professional side of travel. Learn how to market your brand wise or get better at reaching out to niche markets. Bring along extra business cards, as Saturday ends with an industry/media networking reception.

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4) Listen to Travel Innovators
Sunday’s program will welcome two world travelers that have made names for themselves yet still want to help others travel too. At noon, Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every country in the world, will deliver the Sunday keynote. Then at 4 p.m., Bruce Poon Tip, founder of the tour company, G Adventures, will tell how “Transformative Travel” has made him the entrepreneur he is today.

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5) Find Inspiration
Need more? During a session called “Travel Babel,” attendees will be able to hear neat stories from travelers – either in person or through a pre-recorded video – who will describe what was their A-Ha moment on the road. As every traveler’s story has a beginning and the journey goes off in many directions, there will be plenty of tales to tell. And with breaks throughout both days and a closing party on Sunday night, go ahead and swap stories with fellow attendance.

For a complete weekend schedule, visit http://nytravfest.com/2014-full-schedule/. All ticket holders receive discounts on NYC tours offered before, during and after the festival by a selection of New York City–based tour companies in partnership with the NY Trav Fest.

Ticket prices are as follows:
Consumer Weekend Ticket: $45 in advance ($60 at the door)
Industry Weekend Ticket: $100 in advance ($150 at the door)
Sunday only: $15
For tickets, visit http://bitly.com/NYTF2014.

Editor’s note: I am on the Planning Committee for the 2014 New York Travel Festival. Photos courtesy of the New York Travel Festival.

A Recap of The 2014 New York Times Travel Show

For my recap on The 2014 New York Times Travel Show, here is a mix of information from sessions I attended as well as my time on the show floor.

DSCN1287616213_10151446244076457_1984918430_oDestinations

While passing along the 1,000 plus booths, it was good to see some mix-ups. Sections for technology, LGBT, adventure, and health/wellness travel had good placement on the floor, along with traditional interests relating to cruises and countries.

While Europe, the U.S. and the Caribbean continued to have a good amount of space, it was nice to see a strong representation of Asian and South, Central and Latin American countries. Indonesia and Taiwan stood out in my mind.

Costa Rica had a nice informational booth, with tasty samples of iced coffee, a creamy, sweetened rice drink, and a shrimp dish. Cuisine aside, Costa Rica is an affordable getaway, and its natural scenery makes it enticing to both budget and adventure travelers. I attended a press seminar held by Costa Rica’s tourism board, who unveiled a new marketing campaign: Essential Costa Rica, focusing on a strong commitment to conservation (with goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2021) and its growth in technical innovation.

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For the United States, Atlantic City, New Jersey of course had a glitzy booth, complete with a DJ and spin wheel giveaways (got a wine cozy from a game of roulette). On Friday and Saturday, I got to watch “Sand Master” Matt Long from Wildwood Crest, NJ, at work. He kept fine-tuning his sandcastle sculpture, and it was to neat to look on as he combined each part. Wildwood Crest must have some great sand.

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Seminars

Saturday and Sunday’s portion of the show is more consumer driven. Leading experts in this field often come back year and after year. The father and daughter team of Arthur Frommer and Pauline Frommer of the Frommer’s talked about how major developments in accommodations are changing where we can stay: in vacation homes and short-rental apartments in place of hotel rooms.

DSCN1365These options have been providing more comfortable stays for much less of a price tag. Companies such as Airbnb, HomeAway, Roomorama, VRBO and FlipKey have been leading in connecting homeowners/renters with visitors (in some states such as New York, it’s illegal to rent to a transient person unless the renter has to stay there during the visitor’s time).

Arthur and Pauline tried out Airbnb for their visits to Portland, Oregon and Seattle and for each time stayed in the upstairs level of a two-family house with “modest furnishings” and stocked with grocery staples. They saved a bundle! If you’re weary about staying a stranger’s home, be assured you can check up on previous references left by past guests on these sites.

Apps have become a traveler’s best bud.  During her presentation, Conde Nast Traveler’s Wendy Perrin named a number of apps that help with everything from flight tracking to getting directions to even finding out what’s happening in your destination. Perrin’s picks included: FlightStats, MyTSA, GateGuru, HotelNight, City Maps 2 Go, and Peek.

In all, I was able to leave with new insights and a couple of brochures of places I hope to go to soon!

The New York Times Travel Show Opens This Weekend

One recent tagline I had seen for The New York Times Travel Show was “See the World. Be Home in Time for Dinner.”  First out firsthand for yourself when this annual show opens to the general public Saturday, March 1, and Sunday, March 2, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

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This year, more than 500 destinations around the globe will be represented. Walking through this consumer trade show is like hopping to different parts of the world in a day’s length. It can get overwhelming, as the travel show attracts many visitors. Here is a map, so to speak, for getting around.

The setup on the show floor is segmented by continent or country. The United States or Europe can be found in certain areas, while you have to cross another area to learn more about Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, or Latin America. Then, there are subdivisions for specific travel interests such as cruises and adventure-minded excursions.

616213_10151446244076457_1984918430_oVendor booths feature reps from hotel/resort properties, tourism boards, tour companies, public attractions and gadget/apparel companies. From booth to booth, you’ll find brochures and tchotchkes – remember it can end up being a lot to carry home – as well as special show promotions or giveaways where you need to provide your information.

Another way to take in the show is to check out the programming offered throughout the weekend. There are travel seminars where leading experts share their input on topics ranging from top destinations to go to this year to savvy money saving tips. Definitely make it a point to listen to Arthur Frommer, founder of Frommers guidebooks, and his daughter, Pauline Frommer. They are very nice and well respected in their field.

Stage performances consists of educational lectures and demonstrations that showcase customs and traditions through dance and music. Cooking demos and book signings with top names happen too.

In all, here is what you need to know if you plan to go to The New York Times Travel Show:

 ·  Saturday, March 1: from 10 AM to 6 PM

·  Sunday, March 2, from 11 AM to 5 PM

Consumer tickets are at $17, plus NY sales tax.  Children 18 and under are free.

You can purchase tickets in advance or in person. For tickets and the entire show schedule, see this link. I’ll be around this weekend. Who else is going?