New York is a place we’ve always loved, as you can see on our previous posts here and here. Despite it being expensive, we always find ways to make a frugal trip there, mainly because of our friends who have places in the City where we can crash. Truth be told, New York is exciting, and it has more events than sunny, small(ish), Jacksonville. So, when the New York Times announced the dates for their annual travel show and it coincided with free dates in our calendar then off I went!
2017 New York Times Travel Show Recap
I booked the flights, and tried to apply for the press pass, which they give out to certain bloggers. Luckily enough, little old me got a press pass, but since I booked my flight in advance, I was set to just spend a weekend (like literally arrive Friday night, come back Monday morning) so I wasn’t able to go to the trade industry day (Friday). Also, for those who are wondering, Peter didn’t go with me. I went solo – it was just a matter of cost. If he was to fly there for a weekend too, it will cost an extra $180 round trip plus food expenses for him. Then again, we realized him not coming was a mistake, oh well! We’ll definitely go back together as a couple next year!
An Overview: If you are coming as a consumer or even as a media partner
The NY Times Travel Show is always held at the Javits Convention Center. The fastest way to get there is through the 7 train (its line color is purple), which you can easily get from Times Square. From there, it is a short walk from the station to the convention center. Note that while there are food courts located inside the Javits center, you’ll find that it is crowded during peak lunch hours. Plan to have a late lunch at the food court or a heavy breakfast so you don’t have to buy and deal with the crowds later.
After the show, if you are up for some sightseeing, you can walk across the street to the High Line. What used to be a railroad track is now converted for pedestrians to use to see the Hudson River and well, a small park to just chill and hang around in the city. I had high expectations for it, but oh well. It was winter when I went so not much plants or flowers around to see anyway. For some reason I think it closes around dusk so be sure to walk around before the sun sets!
The first thing I will advise while you are at the convention will be to plan ahead. On their website, the NY Times posts schedules of book signings and also speaker sessions. While I did want to sit in to Pauline Frommer’s session, I missed that completely, what a bummer. I got sidetracked and went directly to talk to the exhibitors instead. Also, if you are planning to do the book signing, you can bring your own book, I believe. I didn’t have a book but I did say hi to Nomadic Matt during his book signing session. If you missed a book signing, don’t fret – sometimes the authors will be signing books at an exhibitor’s booth. I did see the author of 1,000 Places to See in the USA and Canada signing books at one of the tables!
On the Travel Show Floor
Saturday is also one of the busiest time to go – when I got there in the morning (around 10-ish, and they open at 10AM sharp), there were not much queues with the exhibitors, so i got to talk to a lot of them. I was quite happy to see the Florida booth so I went there first – go Florida! Mainly because I wanted to double-check if we had covered most of Florida on our travels. Turns out, we are missing a lot of smaller towns and attractions, oh and also aside from Destin and Ft Walton Beach we completely neglected the panhandle, but that’s another story to tell. There was also a Visit Jacksonville booth (yay, Jacksonville, represent!) – and I made a mental note that I should definitely create more posts about what one can do in Jacksonville – seeing as we are locals!
I also moseyed around on the Northeast booths – like Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts. Peter and I have personally never been there so I tried to gather more information about their states and also how to get there. I even found out about Cape May in New Jersey (which is closer to Philadelphia than I thought), and a few other areas in New York that are within a train ride away from the City. We’re actually going to Connecticut for a weekend this April to coincide with our New York trip so another state to cross off our list. Yay.
Went to the Europe booths – which is probably my most favorite booth! Took information about Ukraine, and the Czech Republic, but what came about as a surprise to me was that Slovakia had its very own booth! Yay! Slovakia! I took a map and two information books about the country (well, mainly because I was proud of seeing Peter’s home country in there, but also to give me a chance to look up these tourist destinations in his country and nag him to take me to them!). Peter’s response? He was surprised that the books were actually high quality and boo to him, he didn’t know a few of those places, especially the UNESCO World Heritage ones. But yes, we’ll definitely visit!
Also went around the Africa booth – where I got to talk to the people at the Tanzania and South Africa booths – because well, we’re missing three more continents on our list to visit. We’re still missing Antarctica, Africa & Australia (or what we call our AAA!) I loved watching the TV show Great Migrations on National Geographic and had an engaging conversation about the migrations with the exhibitor. Great stuff. Since my pen didn’t work, he gave me a very nice one saying Kilimanjaro. Happy days!
And then, I found the Antarctica section, where Quark Expeditions had a promotion: save 30% on their cruises when booked by February 12th, or take 50% off their all-inclusive Island Sky cruise when booked during the NYT Travel Show. It was very tempting and we nearly did it, but we didn’t have enough time or money yet to complete it. Boo!!
Said hi to the Philippines booth, and moseyed about in the Asia section before I decided to rest for a bit and go downstairs.
Talks and Book Signings
At the ground floor (basement?) are the presentation rooms. There were various presenters that have talks that last for an hour. As I said above, I missed the Pauline Frommer and the Nomadic Matt one so I decided to sit on the Peter Greenberg Talk called “Brave New World of Travel”. The seminar rooms were much bigger than I would have thought, so I quickly snuck in and got a seat.
The talk was well, mostly for novice or casual travelers, I would say. I do not agree with his talk about airline miles and points saying that it’s so hard to redeem and the airlines are making a ton of money by forfeiting the points of the people who didn’t get to use them. If you read our Travel Hacking posts, you would know that to get the best deals for airfare, you’ll definitely need to plan in advance and you’re more likely to find availability for your points. If you wait until the last minute then chances are you won’t get anything.
Combine the points and miles that you have with the cash back card and you can get an ‘almost’ free trip. When I say almost, even if you’re using miles and points, you are still paying for taxes and fees and a few other things that credit cards don’t cover. If you Manufacture Spend, then there’s certain costs that are related to getting more points such as transportation & time.
I didn’t get any books to sign – I didn’t have much luggage space and I already had too many books to read! Oh well. I will, however, pick up these books from the library (if they are available)!
Was the NY Times Travel Show Worth It?
Overall, the NY Times Travel Show was a great outing for me. It gave me a better reason to go back up to New York and be with other travel junkies in the same big room. Did I avail of any deals? No, unfortunately, but I did learn about new countries I wanted to visit like Dominica, and Nepal, and Bhutan (which can only be visited upon paying a tourist tax or by a tour group).
I also got a chance to connect with other bloggers at the press room, and meet some of the people at the exhibition. I’ll definitely come back there in 2018 with my husband, it was great fun, but we might bring sandwiches when we go back! See you guys next year!