Highlights Of The New York Travel Festival

a chandelier from the ceiling

I recently wrote about a new travel show that I would be attending on Saturday, April 20 called the New York Travel Festival.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the event. The festival’s goal was to reinvent the consumer travel show.

It turned out that the show was a big change from the NY Times show. The festival was much smaller and focused on seminars spread out over three floors of the beautiful Bohemian National Hall on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. There were also food tastings from the Hudson Valley as well as some excellent Mexican food to sample. Missing were table upon table of representatives from tourism boards and travel companies.

a man standing at a podium giving a presentation
Andrew Evans

The festival got off to a great start with a keynote speech by Andrew Evans, National Geographic’s Digital Nomad. His speech was funny and full of lots of interesting information. He had planned to talk about why he hates bucket lists’ (so do I) but changed the topic due to the recent events at the Boston Marathon.

Before moving on to the new topic, Andrew shared a little about why he does not like bucket lists and also shared some things he was proud to have accomplished.
(check out his list in the image below)

a man standing in front of a large screen

Andrew’s new topic was about how Travel Is Not Terror.

a sign with text on it

First Andrew explained where the word travel comes from. After explaining the origin of the word, we were told how travel was a word associated with torture. However Andrew went on to explain how travel was not torture. I think most in the room would agree that travel in fact was not terror or torture. It was definitely a fun and interesting topic with a little humor thrown in for good measure.

a group of plates of food
Duck from The Artist’s Palate

After the keynote speech, we went to check out the Taste of the Hudson Valley. There was a variety of things to sample like cheese, wines, moonshine, pasta, Moroccan food and my personal favorite- duck breast. The duck was served by the restaurant The Artist’s Palate from Poughkeepsie, NY. Based on the duck sample, I’d guess they serve some pretty solid food.

a woman standing in front of a large screen
Alison Wright

I really enjoyed the photography demonstration and talk given by Alison Wright.
Alison shared some amazing photos and told incredible stories about them. She also talked about a horrible bus accident that she was in during a visit to Laos. The story of how Alison was saved by the local villagers was incredible to hear and could be read about in her book Learning To Breathe. Find out more about Alison Wright here.

a group of people sitting on a stage
Left-Lee Abbamonte, Mid & Right- Uri Tours Reps

There was lots of interesting information given out about visiting North Korea, a place that I’d love to visit some day. The discussion was with Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every country in the world and Uri Tours, a company specializing in trips to North Korea. During the discussion there was a Q & A about visiting North Korea. I found it interesting how Lee and the Uri Tours representatives seemed to have different opinions on many of the questions asked. Regardless of opinions, both sides agreed that a visit to North Korea was definitely worthwhile.

a box of beer on a table
a table with beer bottles and books

I stopped by a fun discussion about beer- related travel. The topic was “Drink Like A New Yorker”.
The panel was made up of some local beer experts:

  • Jeremy Cowhan, president of the NYC Brewers Guild and owner of Shmaltz Brewing Company
  • Josh Bernstein, author of Brewed Awakening
  • David Naczycz, co- founder of Urban Oyster which runs local, food & beer related tours
  • Gene Muller, founder of Flying Fish Brewing
Later on, we stopped back in for a beer tasting from Schmaltz Brewing. I had an interesting beer- related chat with Josh Bernstein and also spoke a bit with Jeremy Cowhan about the upcoming opening of Shmaltz Brewing Company’s new brewery in upstate NY.

Some other seminars I attended:

a man and woman sitting on chairs
Contentious Topics In Travel with Valarie D’Elia of Travels With Val and travel writer Robert Reid. Some interesting topics were discussed which made for a fun discussion. Val and Robert also shared some stories from their travels with the audience.
a group of men sitting on a stage
L-Nomadic Matt C-Matt Gross R-Dan Saltzstein

Expert Level Trip Preperation with Travel Blogger Matt Kepnes aka Nomadic Matt, Editor of BonAppetit.com, former NY Times Frugal Traveler Matt Gross and Dan Saltzstein of the NY Times.

I was definitely hoping to pick up some “expert” tips about trip preparation but I came away from this seminar a bit disappointed. They didn’t seem to hit on the topic and it became more of a discussion and Q & A session. I did like hearing their thoughts on using a backpack or roll aboard bag, guidebook/ no guidebook and other things along those lines.

There was one very useful thing that I did learn at this seminar. A discussion came up regarding foreign transaction fees at ATMs. One of the speakers mentioned a Bank of American debit card which is part of the Global ATM Alliance. If you use the BOA card at a bank within the alliance there will be no fees. A 1% international transaction fee may apply when converting currency. This can definitely be a great way to save some money while traveling.

Overall the New York Travel Festival was a really nice event. It was great to hear the thoughts and opinions from such an impressive group of travel experts all in one place. I also liked how there was such a great variety of topics discussed throughout the day.

If the NY Travel Festival returns next year, I’ll most likely return.

Along with the festival, a tour was included the following day. This was part of the reason I signed up. I’ll be writing about my experience on Scott’s Pizza Tours very soon. I’ll just say for now that the tour was pretty awesome.

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