A Survivor’s Guide to the Adventure Travel Show

In less than thirty seconds we’d travelled  two floors and covered a distance of several thousand miles to arrive in the southern hemisphere.  

 “Adventure Travel Show,”- the lift attendant announced.

As the lift doors slowly parted, colourful head masts in red, green and gold screamed ‘African Safaris’. Self Drive Botswana posters teased us with 4-wheel drive adventures through wildlife-laden savannah while a video of Kalambo Falls in Zambia cascaded silently behind an African woman in a flamboyant traditional musisi dress.

 It’s that time of year again; a month past the shortest day, the streets of London are grey and it’s drizzling most of the time. The brightest things on your daily commute are the reflections of the shop lights in puddles. 

You’ve seen the posters while you wait for your tube and the full page ads in the weekend broadsheets.  You’ve fantasised about winning the lottery and quitting the job to travel round the world but are you really prepared for an Adventure Travel Show?

As a seasoned travel show visitor, I’d like to give you a feel of the show and offer some tips to help you survive the weekend.  

Pre-buy your tickets, they’re cheaper. Order online through the show’s website and arrive about 30 to 60 minutes after it opens. The keenies who have queued up early will now have gone through and the late risers will still be eating their breakfasts.

Use the cloakroom – it’s free and the temperature in the show is often akin to the tropical destinations being promoted.

Wear comfortable shoes and orient the map you’re handed as you leave the lift.  The walking holiday begins as soon as you step out the lift and you will, of course, already have decided which of the hundred or so talks you’re interested in, when they start and what theatre they are in.  

 The world’s adventure travel companies have come together under one roof to entice you to part with thousands of pounds and head for unspoilt locations somewhere around the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn.  They will sell you the virtues of trekking, climbing, kayaking or cycling and show you images of happy confident people experiencing extreme diving like a black ops spy or navigating rapids in a white water kayak to reach the latest, remotest part of the world.

If you doubt your abilities to withstand such a gruelling holiday, motivational speakers will ‘wow’ you with how easy it is to visit every country in the world or cycle around New Zealand and Australia snapping award-winning wildlife photographs on your smart phone.

With 1000 selfies as his backdrop, Dave Cornthwaite will implore you to ‘Say Yes More’ as he oozes abundant amounts of enthusiasm and passion about his latest journey, one of 25, 1000 mile journeys using a non-motorised form of transport.

Dave Cornthwaite talking at the 2013 Show

On the practical side, a simple blue and white stand called The Visa Machine will help you obtain some of the most complicated visas in the world and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the stand around the corner will advise you not to go there.

With over 120 exhibitors, there are almost as many free inspirational talks covering adventure planning, photography and travel writing seminars.  Even if you have no desire to climb Everest or the Himalayas or trek across Nepal, there really is something for everyone from short breaks to year-long adventures, luxury accommodation to extreme camping.  And don’t think it’s only for twenty something year old gap year students, some of these trips are way beyond the budget of a student loan and you can even do adventure travel with Saga now.

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