Getting another mighty push for the itchy feet happened to me at this weekend's Adventures In Travel Expo in New York (October 10-11). In what has been my ritual this past few years, I go to these events hoping to find destinations worthy of my tourist dollar. Booth after booth representing travel ideas became a mini-round-the-world trip as I spend the entire one afternoon at the cavernous Jacob Javits Center. Thanks to an email from National Geographic Adventure, the $15 entrance fee was waived.
Right after the entrance, GAP Adventures - one of the travel outfitters I've previously traveled with - handed out enormous tote bags, just what I needed knowing this will be filled with brochures, books, pens, business cards and more brochures than I can manage to read. Of all the exhibitors though, nothing really gave me more pride than seeing the Philippine booth. With the support of the Philippine Department of Tourism, they managed to secure a very visible spot all on its own. While the Philippine participation earlier this year was geared towards wellness, this time it's more about activities for the adrenaline-junkies in the archipelago.
And what's an Adventures Expo without the adventure right within the venue? There were three free activities at least worth trying: zip-lining, rock wall climbing and introductory scuba diving. It amazes me to see kids as young as 5 years old climbing up the rope ladder to the launch point where they go back down via zip-line. As expected, this activity became a hit among visitors as we all line up to sign our lives away. I skipped the climbing and scuba-diving as I was running out of time and there were still travel seminars I need to attend.
It's always a highlight for me attending seminars and listening to people who's been there, done that. There were several speakers today simultaneously talking in two different places so I timed myself in order to see four: Arthur Frommer - author of Frommer's Travel Guides, Holly Morris - Globe Trekker host/Adventure Divas author, Jon Bowermaster - National Geographic Adventure writer and filmmaker, and for the first time, Emma RuthYulo - director of the Philippine Department of Tourism at the Philippine Center in New York.
- Arthur Frommer is always a source of helpful travel tips, giving us websites upon websites that have current deals on destinations everywhere. What's missing this time was his daughter Pauline, also an award-winning author, who's been teaming up with her dad in previous seminars I've attended.
- Before her scheduled talk, Holly Morris stood at the Globetrekker booth where I initially didn't recognize her. We talked a bit, asked where her next assignment is (Syria) and eventually asked her the same question I threw at Ian Wright and Megan McCormick: have you been to the Philippines? (No). At the seminar, she talked about behind the scenes while filming for Globetrekker (previously known as Lonely Planet). Compared to the wackiness of Ian and Megan, Holly appears to be the more serious if not profound presenter as she recounts an experience meeting a pregnant tiger shark while scuba diving. She also read an excerpt from her book Adventure Divas.
- Jon Bowermaster showed a dramatic film of their rigorous kayaking trip in Antarctica - a region that's been hugging the 'climate change' limelight. They happen to be filming in the area when Gap Adventures' polar expedition cruise ship M/S Explorer sank.
- Emma Ruth Yulo discussed the various adventure destinations in the Philippines through a slide show, including her recent escapades in the Bicol region. The highlight of her talk was a raffle for an all-inclusive adventure trip to the Philippines. While I'd be happy to have won it, I'm very glad it went to an American lady who happens to be a nature photographer. I didn't go empty handed though (not that the goody bag they gave wasn't enough): I won a photo frame ingeniously made from coconut!
Now that I have more stuff to read, I don't even know where to start. So much for itchy feet. I'm doing armchair traveling for now.