It's been happening for over the last 15 years! Jacob Javits Center welcomes over 10,000 travel enthusiasts for three days at the end of every January for The New York Times Travel Show.
This year was my third year in attendance and, from what I've experienced so far, each year has been unique.
With crowds of people storming the tables of at least 400 vendors, the travel show can be a tad bit overwhelming but I have found it to be the best way of exploring the world in less than 24 hours. The best part about it is... you don't have to hop on a plane!
For those who have never been to the travel show before, there are several pavilions that help attendees navigate around the event. Each continent has its own pavilion as well as the Caribbean and the LGBT community.
When I first arrive to the travel show, I usually like to start in the U.S.A pavilion and work my way across. This year, I decided to switch it up by starting with the Caribbean pavilion, instead. Boy was I glad to make the switch!
The Caribbean pavilion is always colorful and full of life. Once I made it through the sea of cruise ship promoters, I enjoyed tasting a little bit of Aruba with a shot of dark rum as I listened to the drums of performances on the pavilions' main stage.
While walking through the LGBT pavilion, I got to pose for the camera with a vibrant drag queen glamorized in a rainbow feathered headdress and orange-striped sarong.
One of the reasons that I was glad to start here was because it was close to my favorite pavilion in the entire show: The Asia Pavilion!! (whoop-whoop!)
The Asia pavilion has to be the most exciting part of the show for me. Not only are the "photo ops" and the performances in this pavilion the most live but the treats have to be the tastiest and most unique ones that I have experienced at the show.
Last year, I had some flavorful samosas at the Incredible India table. But, this year, Japan got creative with Okinomiyaki bites. These bites tasted like a mix between pancakes and sweet home fries. The line was so long, I thought that they'd run out of these tiny bites before I even got to the front. But the chef just kept dishing out more and more. It was definitely worth the wait.
Calligraphy was also big this year in the Asia pavilion. Attendees were able to get their names written on bookmarks in Mandarin and, afterwards, got to unwind with a sip of tea courtesy of Taiwan.
Now even though I fell in love with the Asia pavilion, there were still other parts of the show that I thought were fantastic. DK Eyewitness Travel held a trivia contest, in which attendees got to pick a topic and, if they answered the question correctly, were able to win a free book. In my opinion, their books have some of the best photography and travel information for first-time visitors. I was ecstatic when a friend won me one!
In addition to wine tastings, face paintings and flavorful costumes, the travel show was also about giving back. In the Africa pavilion, a few female vendors teamed up to sell necklaces and bookmarks. Proceeds from the merchandise will go towards helping the women and children of Namibia and Kenya.
But after a long day of running to grab lobster sandwiches and collecting bags and bags of brochures and free giveaways, I ended my time at the show in front of a wall near the South Africa section. On the wall lied this question: "Why do you travel?"
Do I travel because it is unifying? Do I travel for empowerment?
Attending this show every year only reminds me of the answer to this question. It's because... it's inspiring!
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