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When I planned my visit home in March, I was extremely happy to realize that my visit would coincide with the – an event that I thoroughly enjoyed last year. But what a difference twelve months makes! Last year I was still struggling to move my blog to a self-hosted site and decide on a blog name. This year I had business cards and a press pass. Shazam!

FRIDAY

The event started on Friday with a schedule full of trade-only conferences. I managed to sneak into a packed session on the DIY Video Revolution by Robert Reid, a speaker I really enjoyed last year. Unfortunately I think I was a bit too frazzled by jetlag and general… frazzledness to really get the most out of Day 1 of the show.

The real fun began when the showroom floor closed with a blogger event sponsored by Expedia at the ultra-modern Yotel. There were delicious cocktails, new friends to be made (I met my future roommate for !) and lots of industry gossip to be heard.

There was even a cute swag bag including two very blogger-friendly items such as a 4GB memory stick and a spare iPhone/iPod charger.

Stole this from another blogger and forgot who… Forgive me!

Afterwards there was yet another Travel Show meetup at Pony Bar. I made an excellent first impression on my many peers by falling asleep in my drink before stumbling into a cab backwards while mumbling an excuse about having flown across the globe a few short days prior. Dear everyone-I-met-that-night: I promise I am not usually so lame. Well, I said usually.

SATURDAY

Saturday kicked off with a panel hosted by my former travel writing professor David Farley. It was titled Pre-Tripping and Planning Using Social Media, Blogs, & Reader-Reviewed Sites and featured panelists Josey Miller of Tripadvisor, Sean Carlson of Google Travel, and Rolf Potts, author. It was fairly basic stuff but the demographic of this show meant that the audience spent plenty of time interrupting with questions about how to spell “Twitter” and looking horrified when Rolf Potts suggested Couchsurfing as an alternative to hotels. One takeaway: The website helps you track flight prices before and after you buy a flight, and obtain a refund for the difference if the price drops.

Next I hopped across the hall to a second panel, this time focusing on Travel and Technology: When It Helps and When It Doesn’t, and hosted by New York Times travel journalists. Again, most of the apps, websites and gadgets mentioned were fairly basic to someone who spends as much time talking travel as I do. But there was one fascinating discussion about the surprising value of travel agents which made the hour long talk well worthwhile. Takeaway: Seth Kugel did some investigating and found that shockingly (to me), in four different scenarios, travel agents found cheaper flight itineraries than online search engines did! As soon as I got home I looked up his article on the subject, which you can read

My final two sessions were standing room only, and presented by travel celebrities Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel and Arthur and Pauline Frommer of, uh, ! Samantha was unbelievably entertaining and endearing and I was reminded that she was casted to her current job as an actress rather than a travel writer. I suppose for someone who is on camera so many days of the year it is important to be a performer! Pauline and Aurthur were very charming and gracious and once again showed their deep knowledge of the travel industry, however I must say I was disappointed in the quality of their presentation compared to the one they gave last year. Takeaway: Show up early for seminars that involve travel-world celebs.

After all that knowledge, it was time to hit the show room floor! I enjoyed some delicious sticky rice from the Thailand booth…

Marveled over people in a giant blow-up pool…

Reached hyperventilating excitement over real-life animals at the Sea World booth…

Enjoyed some free ice cream from Ecuador…

…and goofed around with my partner-in-crime Zoe. As with last year I enjoyed chatting with the friendly representatives of the countries I have been to and am planning on visiting soon, collecting as much food and swag as possible, and of course entering each and every contest and giveaway possible.

The highlight of the day, however, came once again after the conference was over. At a bar basement in the Lower East Side, travel enthusiasts gathered for another session of Restless Legs, the travel writing-reading series also put on by my past professor. This was one of the highlights of the weekend for me last year and lived up to the hype yet again. It was a special evening and I hope that I am lucky enough to attend another in the future.

SUNDAY

Sunday was the final day of the show and to be honest, if I hadn’t already made plans to go with my mom and my sister, I might have skipped out on a third round. But I’m so glad I didn’t.

I started out by attending two destination specific seminars- one on South America and one on Burma. These can tend to lean towards sales pitches but thankfully the speakers were great, especially Marilyn Staff of . I fall more into the backpacker/flashpacker category myself, but if I ever become a luxury traveler I would be all over that company.

However, the final seminar of the weekend that I attended was by far the most informative, well put-together, and beneficial. It was Beating the System – Travel Points Pointers for a First Class Lifestyle on a Budget by Brian Kelly, The Points Guy. I was furiously taking notes on my blackberry about how to make this whole travel rewards thing first when Brian said “I will give the first person to tweet ‘I love points!’ 10,000 AMEX rewards points.” Well. I was on the Twitter app in a nanosecond and as you can see below even sacrificed spaces, but still couldn’t believe it when I heard that I had won! An excerpt from my that day is below, with the newest tweets at the top.

I was so excited to win! As I type this post I am sitting in a cushy that I booked with points, so stay tuned for more details on that and some of the juicy tips we learned during that seminar.

All in all, I loved spending the weekend surrounded by travel mania in every direction. The showrooms floor was chaotic and fun, some of the seminars were good and the post-show events were wonderful. The biggest drawback was I found myself overall disappointed at most of the seminars in comparison to last year. I can’t be sure though if that has to do with the seminars not being as good or with me being a year wiser/more jaded. Still, I will absolutely attend again in the future, though I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to be there if I wasn’t already in New York. I realized this year that the real highlight for me was the stuff going on outside the actual show- meeting people in the industry and making great connections and new friendships. Long live the travel addicts among us!

Were you at New York Times Travel show? What did you think?

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Lucky for me, I have tons of family and friends in NYC who are willing to put me up when I’m back in town, saving me from a pricey hotel bill! But if you want to attend the Travel Show from out of town, hotels aren’t the only accommodation option. Other possibilities include couch surfing, hostels, and timeshares. Services such as can help if you are stuck in a timeshare contract.

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34 Comments...
  • I would love to go to this show next year…did you get to meet Brian Kelley in person? I’ve always wondered what he was like.
    John of Travel Rinse Repeat recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 12 2012

      I sadly did not get a chance to speak with him, just his assistant! He seemed like a personable guy and his parents were in the audience, which I thought was sweet.

  • Dad
    May 10 2012

    …and you credited your sister being in the second photo from the bottom???

    • Meihoukai
      May 12 2012

      Yes…? Does it not look like her or something?

  • Gaelyn
    May 10 2012

    I really need to attend a travel show.
    Gaelyn recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 12 2012

      I really enjoy this one! I’d like to try out some others around the world as well someday…

  • Kathryn
    May 10 2012

    I feel certain you mean you stole the PHOTO and not the swag, right?

    Hey, Rolf Potts was at the Bennington MFA program when I was! Great guy. I’m going to try to dig up his email and send this to him.

    • Meihoukai
      May 12 2012

      Ha yes, I should clarify… I stole the photo! Also I can’t believe Rolf was in your MFA program! Was he at your graduation that I went to?

  • Laura
    May 10 2012

    How funny, I was at the NYTTS last year and also went to the Restless Legs get together! I wonder if we met. I decided not to go this year but it sounds like I missed a good show!
    Laura recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 12 2012

      So funny our paths have crossed before! We probably did meet and I don’t know it because I have a terrible memory… I’m horrible at remembering names and often end up embarrassing myself that way!

  • Now this is the kind of conference I would like to go to! It sounds like you saw and learned a lot. I’d love to know what tips you picked up in the Beating the System seminar. I noticed that the Chase Sapphire Preferred card was at the top of the list in that slide you posted, and that just happens to be the card my husband and I decided to sign up for for our RTW trip! Because of the rewards we’ve gained in the past 4 months or so, we managed to snag our one-way flights from Austin, TX > LAX > Tokyo for just $550!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 12 2012

      Hey Steph, I’m definitely going to go into more detail in a future post but if you need info ASAP check out the Point Guy’s website! And I am super impressed with the deal you got on your tickets, way to go!

  • Matthew Karsten
    May 10 2012

    Rolf rocks. I would’ve loved to see the faces of those people when he mentioned CouchSurfing.

    Obviously a slightly different travel crowd. 🙂

  • Lena
    May 10 2012

    So cool! I attended one in LA 3 years ago and Samantha Brown was there as well. Love those events!

    • Meihoukai
      May 12 2012

      She really is a great performer and based on the crowds she is one popular lady! It was the most packed seminar of the weekend, for sure.

  • Krista C.
    May 11 2012

    This looks like fun, I bet that is nice that it happened so close to where your family is. I will definitely be checking out the Beating the System guy.
    LOL about the couchsurfing, I bet that horrifies the masses.

    • Meihoukai
      May 12 2012

      Yeah, Rolf was a pretty lively addition to the panel!

  • Congrats on winning, that’s awesome! I might have to go again next year and this time lets please talk more than 30 seconds. 🙂
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2012

      It’s always nice to have an excuse for a trip to New York!

  • worldtraveller2
    August 4 2012

    I love Brian Kelly and met him at the Chicago DO (a points and miles seminar) last year. This thing sounds like fun, I will have to put it on my radar screen. Love your website by the way! Working on starting one right now!

    • Meihoukai
      August 6 2012

      Thanks! It’s a labor of love, best of luck with starting your own site! I love most of the providers I work with… see my Gear and Products page for my recommendations!

  • Rashaad
    December 13 2013

    I’ve volunteered at the New York Times Travel Show twice, and I’ve had an absolute blast! I would love to go there again.
    Rashaad recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 13 2013

      Me too! Sadly this year it is the same week as Mardi Gras, which I’ve decided to go to instead. Ah well!

  • Jana
    August 5 2015

    Have you ever been to ITB Berlin? It is the world’s biggest travel trade show and a fantastic place to meet fellow travel bloggers and get in touch with all tourism organizations of the world!

    It would be so great to see and meet you there next year!!!
    Jana recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      August 5 2015

      I haven’t, Jana, but I am speaking at TBEX Bangkok this year!

  • Meihoukai B
    September 14 2015

    Hey I live in the NYC suburbs when I’m not traveling (which isn’t too often)! Let’s hope the 2016 one will be worth it, now I’m thinking about going! And hopefully will win some points too 😛

    • Meihoukai
      September 15 2015

      Let me know how it is, Meihoukai! Unfortunately I’d be on the other side of the world, or I’d be all over attending…