I wasn’t sure if visiting a travel show would be worth the effort, but having dropped into The Times’ Destinations show at the weekend, I think it can definitely be a source of ideas and inspiration…particularly when its cold, raining and windy outside.

Travel show 3The show at Earls Court runs over four days in a hall packed with over 500 exhibitor stands, as well as theatres offering free talks and expert tips on a whole range of subjects. Clearly the aim of the game is sales, but I didn’t feel under pressure to commit to anything and the only real hard sell came from someone selling high factor sun lotion.

Stands are helpfully laid out by area, so if its Africa you’re interested in you can head to that zone, or if one of the 50 United States of America appeal then the section with the heavy presence of stars and stripes is easy to spot. Saying that not everything fits into the assigned area, certainly not the RV that can be hired for US driving trips like the iconic Route 66.

Travel show 1Just alongside the RV we were surprised to find full size luxury caravans, that don’t really look or feel much like caravans…one was definitely almost as big as my house. They are for sale on a variety of sites in areas including the Cotswolds and even if its not something you’d ever be interested in…who doesn’t like a snoop around a show home?!

What I liked most about the event was the fact that there are people who know stuff.  Got questions? They have answers. If you’re just considering a destination but not sure its for you, then its a perfect way to take your research off the internet and into the real world where you to talk to real people. There is also plenty to take away too, though I did worry a bit about the number of trees that were felled to produce so much literature.

The final point to mention is the price and the caveat to all of the above is that I’m not entirely sure I would pay to go in. There were plenty of offers available only at the show, but unless you know you’re going to benefit from one of those the £13 price tag on the door might seem steep. I was sent tickets by a travel company I’ve booked with in the past and I have a feeling that there are probably lots of ways to get free tickets to events like this. After all its in the interests of the exhibitors to get people there.

So next time you’re looking for inspiration for your next trip, why not check if there’s a travel show coming to a venue near you…you might just come away with an exciting new travel idea you hadn’t even considered before.