2021 Travel & Adventure Show in SF Bay Area
Going into their 17th year, the Travel & Adventure Show has connected over 1.5 million travel enthusiasts with over 4,500 different exhibiting companies from around the world. We love the event so much that we’ve been a media partner of the SF Bay Area event a few times now. They were re-formed in 2011 as the Travel & Adventure Shows and now cover nine markets in the United States with a focus on leisure and experiential travel.
Truthfully, it was so refreshing to be at a physical event again and we were pleasantly surprised just how many vendors showed up.
On the heals of a pandemic which hasn’t yet run its course, it’s clear that many want to start traveling again, so I was thrilled that they made the effort to have a physical show. A clear message from many of the speakers, including investigative reporter Peter Greenberg of CBS News, was as simple as this: a mask shouldn’t (and isn’t) going to stop your travel enjoyment. We reviewed two operas over the last month or so and the house was packed. Sure, we had to wear masks, but as Peter so rightfully raised, it certainly didn’t negatively impact our experience of it.
The bottom line is that travelers are once again ready to explore the world. With more and more people getting vaccinated, new countries are opening their borders including the states in mid-November.
They had a great line-up of speakers at the SF Bay Area event, which was held from October 23-24, 2021 at the Santa Clara Convention Center. There were over 30 sessions across three theaters: Travel Theater (the top travel celebrity personalities), the Destination Theater (destination experts covered where to go, when to go, what to do and how to get there) and the Savvy Traveler Theater, which showcased travel tips, actionable advice and more)
I love hearing Peter Greenberg speak because he’s so direct, yet he always adds wit and humor to his practical advice. He covered tips on how to avoid extra fees and better understand your rights about refunds, especially related to Covid. He also provided updates on airlines and hotels as well as countries opening up their borders and what to expect in a post-pandemic world.
The host of the Discovery Channel’s Expedition Unknown Josh Gates drew a large crowd to the main Travel Theater in the back of the exhibit hall.
Pauline Frommer, Editorial Director of Frommer’s Guides gave one of the keynotes at the end of the day on Saturday, which was at the same time as my talk, so I missed it.
Her focus was on how major destinations have changed over the course of the pandemic. Known for her comprehensive guides that span the world, Frommer spoke about how to plan the most riveting trips and covered everything from insurance, airfares and accommodations, to cultural shifts to modes of travel (tours, cruises, experiential attractions and more).
She’s also great at helping travelers discover top-notch values, whether you’re vacationing in the lap of luxury, roughing it, or doing something in between. I’ve met her a few times over the years in the press lounge at the New York Times Travel Show and always found her to be both authentic and inspiring.
Award-winning Travel Writer Andrew McCarthy spoke about his personal journey. Author of The Longest Way Home, he covered how to travel and in that inward travel, how both the latter and travel transformed his life.
In addition to his successful acting and directing careers, he is now a successful writer and editor at large for National Geographic Traveler.
During his talk on the main stage on Saturday, he covered fear of the unknown, taking the time to enjoy the precious moments in life, pushing yourself to try new things, and looking at the world with new eyes. His topic resonated with us, because we too focus a lot on the inward journey and how better understanding that internal compass can help you shift your world views which assists not just when you’re on the road but in your every day life as well. Bravo – we’re huge fans of his work.
Other speakers included Kristin Carlson of Tahiti Tourism, Dawn Campbell of Visit Anchorage (we love Alaska), Angel Castellanos who is known for his travel and technology tips (pictured below), Steve Wellmeier of Poseidon Expeditions, Brooke Smith of Yosemite/Madera County Tourism and Rudy Maxa, renowned Travel Journalist and Broadcaster who also now runs tours.
We spoke about Transformative Travel: Becoming Enlightened Through Your Travel Experiences on the Savvy Travel Theater stage. Ever gone to a meeting or an event when things went south…on or off the road? Anthony wasn’t able to make it last minute and the two volunteers who were slated to help at our booth didn’t show up either. Thanks to Carmen Hughes who was there with bells and whistles on all day Saturday, however the hiccups definitely added stress to delivering the talk. To top things off, there was a rainstorm on Sunday that flooded the highways, all of which led to a four hour drive back which would have normally taken about an hour and 15.
So, going with that innate flow was part of my own journey that weekend, which was ironically an integral part of my talk. I spoke about the inward adventure travel journey that pushes you into the unknown, and out of your comfort zone. It is from here that we can truly appreciate cultures, the sacred land we talk on, the customs we encounter on the road and the people we meet. When we’re in the present moment, we begin to understand the interconnectedness of all things and from that place, true transformation happens.
I also covered triggers and shadows that hit us along our life path and how when we’re not centered and grounded, they simply follow us to our destinations. When we’re off-kilter, we end up merely going through the motions and not truly respecting and embracing the journey. Nor can we be in the present moment which is where magic happens.
Many travelers will need to integrate their own mind and soul-resting techniques as the borders re-open. Delays are inevitable as is re-routing, at least from what I gathered from listening to people’s talks. That said, living from a place of fear isn’t going to help us get through the pandemic. Onward and upward as they say and the vendors, tour operators, cruise companies, airlines and hotels will move forward too. It’s inevitable.
The exhibit hall was filled with some of my favorite destinations and activities. If beaches are your thing, then Aruba, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Tahiti, British Virgin Islands, Calaveras, the Bahamas, and the Beaches of Fort Myers (I used to live there) and Sanibel are great places to explore — all were at the show. Also on-site were the tourism boards from India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan and Korea. China had a photo booth where you could picture yourself in China (with a choice of China’s most famous travel icons) and Taiwan offered a fun game at their booth.
For those more interested in local destinations from the west coast, there were all there too: Carmel Valley, Catalina, Gilroy, Concord, Mendocino County, Yosemite, the Redwoods, El Dorado County, Amador and Sacramento. We keep meaning to do a foodie round-up on Sacramento, so perhaps this winter may just be the perfect time as it’s a pretty close weekend getaway from the Bay Area.
Of course Alaska was there and other nearby U.S. destinations showed up as well, including Oregon and Arizona (and Grand Canyon). Various hotels and resorts had presence as well, including Welk Resorts, Sandals & Beaches Resorts, Paradise Cove Luau, The Springs & Peace Lodge in Costa Rica, Los Cabos Resorts, Canopy by Hotel Cancun La Isla, Belize Hotel Association, Best Western Plus Stovall’s Hotels of Anaheim, and Palace Resorts & Le Blanc Spa Resorts. We’re fans of the Palace and Le Blanc brands — be sure to read our review of their Moon Palace Cancun property.
Below, a fun creative piece of art from the Taiwan booth.
On the adventure side, some of the vendors included Oregon‘s Adventure Coast, On Safari & Adventures, Magical Journeys and Beyond, Outskirt Safaris, Queen Charlotte Safaris, Remote West Coast Adventures, Takeena Adventures, Travel Junea, Mendocino Tourism, Alpine Hikers, Black Panther Safaris, Carpe Mundo Adventure Travel and more.
If you’re a water lover, then learn more about French Canal Boat Company, River Cruises by Cruise Planners and Celebrity Cruises (we’ve been wanting to review them for awhile now).
Additionally, the United States Department of Agriculture was there, to educate travelers about California citrus, which is at risk from a plant disease called Huanglongbing and offered tips on what you can do to help. They suggest visiting the website CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org to learn more. They had a ton of literature on the invasive fruit flies so people become more aware of how to prevent the fruit fly spread.
Here’s a short whimsical video of some b-roll we shot at the event. Note that it would have been more comprehensive had it not been for the hiccups, delays getting down, rainstorms coming back and….Need I say more? Enjoy! We love this show.
The SF Bay Area Travel Show will be returning to the Santa Clara Convention Center from May 21-22, 2022, so you don’t even need to wait a full year before the next live event. Those of you who can make other destination shows, here’s their upcoming 2022 schedule so you can mark your calendars.
- NEW YORK CITY: January 28-30, 2022
- CHICAGO: Feb 5-6, 2022
- WASHINGTON DC: Feb 26-27, 2022
- BOSTON: March 5-6, 2022
- LOS ANGELES: March 12-13 2022
- DALLAS: April 2-3, 2022
- ATLANTA: April 23-24, 2022
- DENVER: April 30-May 1, 2022
- SF BAY AREA: May 21-22, 2022
If you’re a travel enthusiast, be sure not to miss their events. Questions or comments, let us know and feel free to reach out with questions. Visit their main website which has a wealth of information including how to get tickets for any of their upcoming events in the cities listed above.