Why You Should Attend Travel Shows

01 of 05

Why You Should Attend Travel Shows

Travel show
Mark Kahler

Travel shows offer a number of benefits to those who want to save on their upcoming trips. You might think that it's simply a marketplace where travel providers can sell their products. But that impression -- while not totally inaccurate -- misses some key points.

Yes, there will be offers at the shows that are overpriced or completely unfit for your needs. But as a budget traveler, you are intent on planning the very best itinerary. In the photo above, you'll note that the Mexico Tourism Board display at the Chicago Travel and Adventure Show includes windows for a variety of destinations and businesses. You can sit down and discuss specifics as you plan that next trip at dozens of displays from nations and properties all over the world.

Tickets can run $10-$20 or more per person, and parking might involve a separate fee. Ask about senior discounts.

Once inside, travel discounts are available at many shows, and you should always ask if you can get a break on prices from the vendors who are exhibiting. Sometimes that discount won't be too helpful, especially if it is taken from an inflated price. 

But there are additional benefits you should consider that could more than offset the price of admission. Click "next" and learn more about what travel shows have to offer. 

02 of 05

What's New This Year?

Travel show
Mark Kahler

One of the best ways to save money on travel is to stay current on trends in the industry.

At this particular show, for a second consecutive year, much talk focused on exchange rates. The currencies of Canada, Argentina, Australia and South Africa were favorable buys for Americans on this particular day. We all know how quickly these rates can change

But you don't need to visit travel shows to learn such things. The information you learn here is more detailed.

Here's a selection of random usefulness I first encountered at a travel show:

  • About half of all airfare inventories are not available anywhere online
  • Booking airfare and hotel together often results in big savings on trips to Cancun
  • Wikitude works with your smartphone to provide travelogues for your current location
  • Google Translate can work through the camera on your phone to translate menus in 80 languages
  • If you seek a travel agent for booking an international trip, look for nearby neighborhoods ​that are home to people from your destination nation. Travel agents in those neighborhoods will be familiar with the easiest, cheapest arrangements. 

I could list more, but you get the idea. Actionable tips that are already tested by experts can become invaluable to budget travelers. Take a few notes and apply your learning to the next few itineraries you write.

03 of 05

Travel Experts Share Their Favorite Tips

Rick Steves gives tips for visiting Europe at the Chicago Travel and Adventure Show
Mark Kahler

Many of us have reaped the benefits of a well-updated guidebook. What if you could hear directly from the authors of those books?

Rick Steves has saved travelers time and money through the years with his Europe Through the Backdoor series of books and tours. At a travel show, you can hear such authors speak about the latest trends in travel, and they'll talk about the hottest destinations for the upcoming year.

Do you have questions about some of his advice? You might have the opportunity to ask him face-to-face about those issues. It's a rare chance to meet and question some of the industry's foremost authors and experts.

04 of 05

Free Entertainment

Travel shows enable you to learn more about international cuisine.
Mark Kahler

Not all of the presenters at a travel show are household names. But that doesn't diminish the importance of their messages.

One might provide the finer points of preparing the cuisine of southern India. Another could be demonstrating the newest innovations in carry-on luggage or a new travel app for your smartphone.

The practicality of the presentations will vary. Although I won't master the art of Indian cooking, I enjoyed watching how it's done. 

One tip: prize drawings can be entertaining, but be careful about signing up for more than a couple of them. You'll most certainly be added to mailing lists. Of course, you can always sign up and then ask for your name to be unsubscribed after the drawing ends, but that's not always a smooth or immediate process.

Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05

Specialty Trips

Travel shows offer opportunities to learn about specialty trips.
Mark Kahler

Have you thought about whitewater rafting in Wisconsin? How about a motorcycle tour of Portugal? Those are fairly specialized trips. I, for one, came to this show with no thought of investigating those possibilities.

But as you learn more about some of these specialty choices, you might accept the challenge or perhaps be inspired to come up with something similar for your next travel adventure.

The people on hand to discuss these specialty trips often are prepared to offer discounts and other valuable tips. 

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