Don’t you just love reading the travel section of the NY Times without having to rustle through the rest of the paper? I do, which is why attending its annual travel show is worthy of a visit. This is my third visit to this show and surely will not be my last. The show is held generally on the third weekend of January, at the same time as the Boat Show at the Javits Convention Center in NYC, with over 700 exhibitors from 175 countries and 30,000 attendees. The ticket price ranges from $20 to $25. If you are a member of Goldstar, it will cost you $13.75, a real bargain. Here what makes it worth getting out of your house regardless of how far, cold, or rainy it may be in the middle of January(assuming you live up east). You have exhibitors promoting all kinds of customized travel packages in some cases with deep discounts for every human-alien out there. The two-day event offers cultural stage performances, cooking by celebrity chefs (free food tasting), book signings, and travel seminars. The travel business is forever changing as more folks want to travel and experience their wanderlust, hone their hobby skills, and explore their ancestry. This year they had some excellent travel seminars which took most of my day, although I did check out a couple of booths as I begin planning for my solo journey in 2020 and 2021.
Happy to share some of my common sense learnings and trends:
Flights: Don’t book on Fridays, Use Skiplagged.com,Monondo.com, SkyScanner.com, and Googleflights.com to get comparable pricing on airfare. Booking 4-5 weeks is the sweet spot, longer than that you may be paying too much.
Hotel Packages: Tropical Places— saving 45% Bahamas and DR are the best. Ignore the bad press. Urban USA—No savings and Urban Europe —some savings. The Poles expeditions are popular but expensive.
Over-tourism: This continues to be a growing problem, especially during the summer months. Make reservations to popular sites and consider going at night to avoid the lines and the crowds. Look at shoulder months – April/May and September/October for traveling with fewer crowds.
Money and Security: Avoid ATMs that are not part of a bank, always pay in local currency when using a credit card. Before booking, check the location of your lodging as it may not be in the central district as they claim as well as added resort fees for basic amenities. Don’t rely on TripAdvisor to choose places to eat (ratings are rigged). Ask the local barista for better options.
There were so many learnings from 6 seminars that I attended, everything from book reviews on traveling to travel writing lessons, photography, and what latest accessories and gadgets to buy (e.g., out with hard luggage, in with soft luggage —great for my back!). One thing that perked my curiosity was the use of packing cubes. (Will let you know how that works out).
The most important travel trends mentioned by so many is immersing yourself in exploring what these countries can offer all of us. Learning their culture, customs, history, and language presents experiences and everlasting memories that will stay with you longer than just hanging out on the beach. Be conscious of your carbon footprint and what you can do to reduce it when traveling. Finally, be the best Global Citizen you can be. Safe travels, G.
(Actually, with the coronavirus taking a toll on the tourism, there may be excellent deals on airfare, hotels, and travel packages to consider and would help get this industry and the gig economy back on its feet.)