By: Carly Blatt

If you’re looking for a bit of travel inspiration, dedicate a day to attend the New York Times Travel Show or the Los Angeles Times Travel and Adventure Show this winter. Both shows provide the opportunity to learn about hundreds of destinations, hotels, and tour operators, attend travel seminars, and speak firsthand with representatives from various companies. And, if you’d like to hear Johnny Jet speak in person, you’ll have two opportunities to do so at the Los Angeles Times show.

The New York Times Travel Show will be held at the Jacob K. Javitz Center and is open to the public on February 7 and 8, 2009.

The Los Angeles Times Travel and Adventure Show will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 14 and 15, 2009.

Here are a few tips for making the most of the show:

EXHIBITORS
Take full advantage of the opportunity to chat with the exhibitors about their products. In the age of the Internet, it’s entirely possible to plan your whole trip without speaking to a single human being. But having a knowledgeable person guide you through the process is priceless and this might be your only opportunity to speak face to face with a company’s representative. Tell them exactly what you’re looking for in a trip and what kind of traveler you are. Chances are, they’ll be able to pinpoint the right travel experience for you in a way that the Internet never could. Some exhibitors from smaller companies are the company’s actual tour leaders or hotel owners, and meeting them firsthand helps you understand what kind of experience you’ll have if you book with them. When you’re speaking with exhibitors, let them know when you’re thinking of going and how long you want to travel. If they know specifics, they can let you know about special offers that might fit into your plans. And if you’re ready to book, you may be able to take advantage of a special show rate.

I’ve found that the first hour of a travel show is often fairly quiet and a perfect time to talk to exhibitors in depth. The last half-hour is usually the least ideal time.

SEMINARS, ACTIVITIES AND PERFORMANCES
The New York and Los Angeles shows each include a variety of seminars and talks by industry leaders, authors and TV personalities. When you arrive, check out the schedule of seminars and events to see if there are any you might like to work your day around. If you want to try an activity, keep in mind that some may have a long wait so stop by early in the day and sign up for a slot if needed.

At the Los Angeles show, our own Johnny Jet will participate in two panels: 10 Hot Tips for Getting Travel Deals Online at noon on Saturday, and The 10 Best Destinations for Traveling on a Budget at noon on Sunday. Other Los Angeles panelists include Jen Leo (LA Times), George Hobica (Airfare Watchdog), Barbara Messing (Hotwire Travel Ticker), author Rolf Potts, Tom Meyes (EuroCheapo.com), Samantha Brown (Travel Channel) and many others. At the New York show, you can attend talks by author Patricia Schultz (1,000 Places to See Before You Die), Andrew Zimmern (Travel Channel), travel expert Stephanie Abrams, and many more. Travel writers David Farley, Danielle Pergament, Adam Sachs and Tom Downey present their secrets to great travel and Max Hartshorne and Kent St. John, editors of the travel website GoNOMAD.com, deliver a workshop for beginning travel writers.

Authors Arthur and Pauline Frommer, author Rick Steves, and Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel will present at both shows.

Activities at the Los Angeles show include scuba diving, a rock wall, a zip line, and an adventure ropes course. The New York show features scuba diving, food and wine tastings, and the opportunity to interact with penguins, a sloth, a snake, a lemur, toucans, and an alligator in “Wild Survivors”, presented by SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, and Discovery Cove. The Spa Pavilion features back rubs and spa discounts. If you want to try scuba diving, bring a swimsuit.

Both shows include a variety of stage performances by chefs, dancers, musicians and singers.

SPECIALS, FREEBIES AND GETAWAYS
Numerous show specials will be available to attendees, including show-only rates and discounts from select exhibitors. Several booths will also be giving away freebies.

If you’re feeling lucky, you can enter to win free getaways, flights, hotel stays, and activities. To save time, bring preprinted address labels to put on contest entry forms.

KEEP IT LIGHT
Like with any convention or trade show, it’s easy to get bogged down with pounds of heavy promotional materials that will likely get thrown in the recycle bin the next day. If you know that you can’t resist collecting dozens of brochures, bring along a backpack or rolling bag. But a better option is to only take brochures from places you would honestly consider visiting in the next 12 months. Not only will this save your back from the strain of carrying unnecessary materials, but it helps prevent paper waste.

Try to focus on the quality and relevance of the brochures that you take, rather than the quantity. If you want to remember a company but don’t want to carry a heavy brochure, see if they have a flyer or tri-fold brochure you can take instead. To keep your bag super light, bring a notebook and write down names of companies to research later online.

SHOW DETAILS
Los Angeles Times Travel and Adventure Show
Los Angeles Convention Center
February 14-15, 2009
Saturday, February 14
8am to 10am — Travel Trade
10am to 5pm — General Public
Sunday, February 15
10am to 5pm — General Public
Price: $10. Children under 16 are free and must be accompanied by an adult. Travel agents are also free.
Parking: $12
Buy tickets online here
Tickets are available at the door, although lines are typically long; plan to arrive early if possible.

New York Times Travel Show
Jacob K. Javitz Convention Center
February 6-8, 2009
Friday, February 6
2pm to 7pm — Trade Only
Saturday, February 7
10am to 6pm
Sunday , February 8
10am to 4pm
Price: $15 per day. Receive $5 off when you use your American Express card. Children 18 and under admitted free with parental supervision.
Buy tickets online here
Tickets are available at the door, although lines are typically long; plan to arrive early if possible.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
New York-based freelance writer Carly Blatt has extensively traveled, studied, and worked abroad, covering 26 countries on six continents. Her travel adventures include swimming in Antarctica, bungy jumping in New Zealand, diving with sharks in South Africa, paragliding in the Alps, caving in Belize, mountain boarding in Colorado, camping with locals in the Australian Outback, and helping confused-looking tourists find their way in Manhattan. 

All information presented here is accurate at the time of publication but prices, dates, and other details are all subject to change. Please confirm all information before making any travel arrangements.

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