Chronological / Destinations / United States / Washington DC

Learning from the Pros on How to Travel Like a Local

Anyone who has followed the travels of Samantha Brown and Rick Steves would undoubtedly be interested to know that whenever they meet up for dinner, they swap travel tips. Samantha Brown shared this tidbit at the latest Travel and Adventure Show in Washington, DC. One imagines they might also share tales of their bloopers.

Chefs concoct international culinary delights on the Taste of Travel Stage. (Photo courtesy of the Travel and Adventure Show)

Chefs concoct international culinary delights on the Taste of Travel Stage. (Photo courtesy of the Travel and Adventure Show)

Steves and Brown share the sentiment of John Golicz, CEO of Unicom, which produces the travel show. Golicz says the purpose of the Travel and Adventure Show is to teach people “how to travel like a local.” Since 2004, this syndicated travel show has grown to include several cities. Each show includes information on multiple destinations, interactive activities and well-known speakers.

Visitors to the sprawling Washington Convention Center had the opportunity to visit over 200 booths offering alluring photo brochures and take-away items; a floppy straw hat and plastic sunglasses were among the most coveted giveaways. Vendors doled out information and special deals. Those going into the show with a travel plan could walk out with their trip booked, while the undecided had the thrill of the search.

Visitors could scale a mobile rock climbing wall, take a spin on a Segway and learn the basics of scuba diving in an 18,000-gallon heated pool. At the SeaWorld Animal Exhibit, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, you could get up close with the two-toed sloth named Lucky, see Otis the tiny screech owl and learn interesting facts like this: Scarlet Macaws can live to be 80 years-old. SeaWorld has rescued over 23,000 animals since it began in 1964.

The most popular venue was the Travel Channel Theater, where familiar travel personalities shared their experiences with capacity crowds. Authentic travel was the buzz phrase. Travel guru Rick Steves encouraged listeners to be conscious about seeking out less popular areas. “Enjoy the tourist stuff, but leave it,” he said, citing the example of enjoying the popular sites in Salzburg but retreating to Halstadt for a truer Austrian experience. Samantha Brown related that “in the traveling world, I am part tourist and will always be.” The important thing is to make travel fun and enjoy every aspect from the planning to the trip itself.

Andrew McCarthy takes a question from the audience.

Andrew McCarthy takes a question from the audience.

When asked the easiest way to travel with children, Brown, a new mother herself, elicited some chuckles with this advice: “Leave them at home” — although she admitted that she does take her children along. Travel writer and actor Andrew McCarthy said he enjoys traveling with his children and seeing their eyes light up at new adventures and discoveries. Brown and Steves each lamented the fact that workers in the United States have few vacation days, with many often left unused. They encourage people to make the most of their vacation time to explore, learn and get outside of their comfort zones.

McCarthy, author of Far From Home, discussed the importance of not letting fear get in the way of travel plans. “If we travelled more, we’d be less fearful,” he said. “Travel obliterates fear.” He encouraged the audience to get lost, ask directions and allow themselves to feel vulnerable. “Getting out and lost is the best way to travel.”

Many speakers expressed an interest in exploring daily life in new locations. Go for a walk and interact with locals, use simple pleasantries in the local language and, as Steves said, enjoy things like running out of toothpaste in Bulgaria so you can go to a local shop and buy what you think is toothpaste.

Other venues at the weekend event included Destination Theater, where topics ranged from ‘before traveling abroad’ tips by the US Department of State to an in-depth focus on Maine, Central Asia and rail travel, among others. The Taste of Travel Stage gave people a chance to watch local chefs and those from foreign embassies create enticing dishes, while a variety of international dance troupes entertained on the Global Beats Stage.

Along with exclusive deals, another perk of attending the show was the chance to win from a multitude of door prizes and giveaways, including a trip to Morocco or to Cape Town in South Africa, a white water rafting adventure, as well as gift certificates and travel vouchers. Savvy travelers are already marking March 7-8, 2015 on their calendars so as not to miss next year’s show. In addition to the prizes, getting the inside scoop from professional travelers is priceless.

Take a peak at the Travel and Adventure Show website for information on upcoming shows:

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  1. Elizabeth Willoughby Elizabeth Willoughby says:


  2. Amy Trotter Houston Amy Trotter Houston says:

    Thanks, Elizabeth. I’m glad you liked it!

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