Thursday, January 15, 2009

Top 5 Takeaways from attending the Adventure Travel Expo 2009 in Chicago

This past Saturday, in spite of excessive snow and unplowed roads Rupal and I drove to the Rosemont Convention Center. We didn’t want to miss the Adventure Travel Expo. It’s an annual event and whenever we’ve managed to go we've been inspired wandering the booths and listening to the presenters who are authors of travel books, personalities from The Travel Channel and the National Geographic Adventure magazine.

Here are my top takeaways from this year's visit:

1. It’s happening in Africa: Africa seems to be poised to enter mainstream tourism for 2009. For this crowd of travelers Bangkok’s Kao San Road has become very passe. We saw a number of talks and booths around the travel opportunities in Africa. For those looking for something beyond Morocco and South Africa, this might be the year that Gabon, Rwanda and Niger become real possibilities.

2. Experiential Travel: Fewer and fewer people seem to be opting for the "let’s sack-out-on-the-condo-by-the-beach” type of vacations. Increasingly, people want their travel to also be meaningful experiences, usually by adding a volunteering or a social benefit component to their vacations.

3. Visit just one place, but slowly: Given our limited travel time and the ever-increasing list of places still to be seen, it is natural to rush around checking off places. This crowd is advocating a slower pace of travel. (More depth versus breadth.)

4. Green is a given now: The adventure travel bunch was eco-friendly long before the rest of us even heard of the term. This is an interesting bunch of people, who live in tents for weeks, spend as little for food as they can and yet they have loads of cutting-edge electronic gadgets with solar-powered battery chargers.

5. You make it happen: A paid gig at National Geographic is the poster-child for dream jobs everywhere. Listening to a number of National Geographic writers and presenters, I see that these guys made it happen with the right combination of talent, ambition, gumption and unrelenting perseverance. (I read somewhere that Food Channel personality Rachel Ray, before she broke through, used to regularly make 25- and 50- mile trips in her local area for her cooking shows which barely 3 women attended.) These people are travel writers and photographers because they were working at it while the rest of us ventured no further than wishful thinking.

Related Post: About the expo


  1. Adventure travel can be taken differently by diverse of people. Climbing trees could be an adventure to one person and not to another. If you get what I mean! But there are ways to make your own adventure holidays dream fantastic. The first thing you should ask your self before booking reservations on your adventure trip is that- how far you will go for an adventure? This could mean a goal on what to do on your trip. This question should be answered honestly.

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