So on Saturday last weekend I had never heard of The Adventure Travel Show. On Sunday morning I was there at the Olympia having made the trek across London bright and early, ready to dive in to the world of adventure tours and travel stories from around the globe. Spontaneity is good ☺️
What is the Adventure Travel Show?
As I said, I had genuinely never heard of it. I found myself flicking through instagram stories, and a friend of mine who I met through Traverse events, Joe of This Way Up Travel, was posting pictures of working at the show. I saw that it was tagged in the Olympia and was like hey, that’s in London, why haven’t I heard of that?! So I watched his stories and headed over to their instagram and then website to see what this was about.
I was sold on the opportunity to go to all these cool talks, since I love hearing about travel and the chance to go and speak to lots of different exhibitors. The tickets were only £14 and I believe early bird ones were even less so I thought why not go since I was free during the day on Sunday and planning to just work on my blog anyway? Lucky for me, I was offered a free press pass, which you could apply for.
The event, which claims to be the only UK event dedicated to off the beaten track travel, is set over two days. You can expect to find different free talks from seasoned travellers, seminars on how to travel by motorcycle, bicycle and trekking as well as how to take great travel photos, videos and how to write engaging travel pieces (although some of these did cost extra just to flag that), book signings from speakers as well as a huge range of exhibitors with many niche tours and travel plans like wildlife tours, tuk tuk driving tours, all sorts!
I noticed that across the day there was a big focus on sustainable travel and integrating with local communities and avoiding areas of over tourism, staying true to the idea of ‘off the beaten track’ adventures, which was really cool and a good chance to find out more about how you and your companies can all contribute to improving your travel sustainability.
The Adventure Travel Show was at the Olympia, occupying 2 floors although all the exhibitors and most of the talks were on one floor. It is pretty easy to get to from nearby Overground stations, the Underground also has a stop here on its own mini branch of the District Line, plus West Kensington tube is a 10 minute walk.
There was food and drink available on site, and very helpfully G Adventures were giving out free coffee for signing up to their mailing list yay!
There were four stages to go and check out for talks – the Discover Africa stage, the Adventure Auditorium, the Incredible Journeys stage and the World of Adventure stage, all with different talks running on different timetables. Sir Ranulph Fiennes himself even went along to give a talk on Saturday, which I am bummed to have missed! I attended four talks during the day, all of which were half an hour.
To give you a rough idea of what the talks were like I shall give a quick summary:
Daniel McCrohan, writer for Trailblazer guides, gave a detailed talk of how to do a Trans-Siberian Railway trip, from visas in Russia, China and Mongolia to how and where to book the trains, where to stay along the route, a plan of when to do all your preparation and so forth. He told some great anecdotes along the way, like the vodka drinking long distance truck driver who found the ‘relationships and dating’ section of his English – Russian phrasebook highly entertaining. He explained that it really is a journey that is largely only taken by locals, not at all touristy. It was very interesting to hear about the experiences that one can have along the world’s longest train route and definitely something I would love to do at least a part of one day!
Tibetan Nepal Devils Path
Gavin Anderson from Nomadic Skies Expeditions told us all about visiting the Dolpo region of Nepal – the largest region geographically, located in amongst the Himalayas. He referenced wanting to recreate the trip described in Peter Mathieson’s ‘The Snow Leopard’ (which I obviously now want to read) along the ‘Devil’s Path’, which is a narrow path along the mountains that leads to Tibet. This incredible slight pathway sees Yak caravans and all sorts as it passes the lakes – very interesting to hear about the local communities and their way of life in these remote villages.
Adventure in New Zealand
This talk was from Neil Henderson of Flying Kiwi Tours about all the outdoor adventure activity options across the two islands of New Zealand. I am pretty obsessed with returning to New Zealand, having been as a child, so always keen to learn more about it and what I can do when I eventually make it back there as an adult! The Tongariro Crossing is definitely on my list along with the Waitomo Caves! Maybe even some white water rafting on the south island, although I think I will give Queenstown’s famous Canyon Swing a miss…
Experienced diver and instructor Caroline Vitalini told us all about the snorkelling and diving opportunities presented by Belize, which has the second largest reef system in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia), at 185 miles long. It is much quieter and largely unspoiled in comparison as an often overlooked destination tucked away in Central America. It has been on my list for a while and whilst I am still really not a fan of the idea of diving, particularly in the blue hole, which looks stunning, but it horrifies me to know they had no idea how deep it is, I would chance a snorkel to try and find manatees, rays, turtles and many other incredible species. If you are there at the right time, you can even spot some whale sharks!
The Exhibitor stands
There were so many stands to go and speak to at The Adventure Travel show! Everything from small family run tour companies operating in one country, to huge names like Intrepid, Exodus and G Adventures, who offer hundreds of different group trips around the globe. They also had stands whose travel itineraries were based on modes of transport, like hiking and cycling. Others were travel publications like Wanderlust Magazine and Trailblazer travel guides. You could even find organic vegetable boxes delivered to your door, the Foreign and Commonwealth office for travel safety advice, charities such as the World Wildlife Fund and brands selling adventure gear like backpacks. Many of these had show promotional offers and deals available.
Is it worth going?
I think if you are looking for inspiration for a travel adventure, it’s definitely worth a trip to the Adventure Travel Show on one of the days! I’m not sure you would need to go both days unless there were talks on both that you wanted to hear, so I would advise looking at the programme and picking the day with the most talks on that you want to go to.
If you already know where you want to go but aren’t sure which tour would be best for you, it would be a great opportunity to talk to people and find out more and really get a feel for the trips. If you’re really savvy you can book on the day and take advantage of their Adventure Travel Show exclusive offers too!
Tips for attending
- Perhaps an obvious one, but food in the venue (the Olympia) is a little expensive – there is a Tesco Express opposite the venue – if you don’t fancy pre packing food head there and grab some food – there is space on the catering floor for you to eat!
- Wear comfortable shoes, there is a lot of walking to be done!
- Don’t leave visiting stands you are interested in too late on the Sunday, I left just after 4pm and some stands were already packing up even though the advertised closure time of the event was 5.30pm
- Bring a notepad to the talks so you can jot things down, from ideas of places to visit in a country to how to apply for visas, how to buy rail tickets in a country, there were loads of great tips available in these talks!
- If like me you are somewhat distance blind, bring your glasses incase you end up towards the back of a talk, the screens are quite big but some of the writing was small, particularly on map based slides
- Research companies before you go so if you want to go to certain places or see certain things they can best help you with matching you to trips that are best suited to what you want to get from them
- Have an idea of when you are looking to go away and where – there were loads of fantastic on the day discounts available for booking trips!
- Wear your lucky pants – there were plenty of competitions on offer!