Stress-Free Guide: How to Avoid Overwhelm at the NYT Travel Show — Or Any Convention
I recently attended the New York Times Travel Show, and the way my crowd anxiety is set up — I am never ready for the mad rush that is a Jacob Javits Center convention. As a press pass holder, I knew I needed to find an easy way to reduce the stress that comes with big events so I could adequately prepare for the show, reserve my energy for networking, and maximize my time there.
What is it like attending the New York Times Travel Show?
The NYT Travel Show is a weekend convention that takes place in Manhattan, NY every January. There are about 30,000 attendees during the weekend, and over 550 exhibitors. Many booths were tourism boards and destination marketing organizations representing specific countries or cities.
The first day (Friday) is “Trade Day.” Open only to trade attendees and approved media, this day offers an opportunity to connect with destinations and their PR/marketing representatives.
The following two days are open to consumers and travelers — like most of you. This is when the crowd really hits the ground running (and overwhelm takes over your entire body).
The 2019 NYT Travel Show was brimming with contests, activities, performances, brochures, and of course — lots of people. After a busy weekend, I’ve been able to reflect on the experience and curate a mini survival guide to the show. Read on for effective tips…
Here are mindful tips for surviving the NYT Travel Show:
Ease Into Planning Before the Show
When I received my media pass approval to attend the NYT Travel Show I was ecstatic. I knew there would be great connections awaiting, and massive getaway inspiration. Unfortunately though, I quickly became overwhelmed with the amount of planning I needed to do before the show!
To survive pre-planning overwhelm, take at least a week to map out your show schedule if you want to make the most of it. Instead of cramming your planning session the night before and feeling stressed, you’ll feel rested and relaxed knowing you won’t be running like a chicken without a head.
Use down time to browse the companies / destinations attending. Spot any dream destinations?
Stop by the social media pages of sponsors/exhibitors and see what they’re all about.
Follow the show hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to interact with upcoming speakers and attendees.
Research Contests, Giveaways, & Opportunities
I’m not going to lie… I kinda love travel shows for their contests, giveaways, and freebies! Swag, swag, swag!
My goal was to make sure I entered every giveaway, and made time for special tastings and performances when planning my schedule.
Yes, that meant wine hour at the Visit California and Allianz Travel Insurance booths. Others were a surprise — Puglia, Italy’s booth had some wine of their own to share, and Abu Dhabi served Arabic coffee in gorgeous porcelain cups.
By researching the contests, giveaways, and tastings beforehand, I was able to grab a NYT Travel Show map and mark which booths had the freebies I wanted, saving me the huge headache of inquiring at every booth. This allowed me to complete my rounds by Saturday afternoon and leave time for relaxed, leisurely browsing.
Get Fitness Training Before You Go
TRAININGGGGGG!? (In my Soulja Boy voice)
I know it sounds weird but any person who has been to a convention or trade show for at least one full day can attest to the physical exhaustion one suffers after being on their feet lugging a heavy promo bag all day.
A bit of pre-show stretches and exercise will do a body good, promise! If you are really dedicated, you might even want to start a week before. Yoga before a show like this can offer many benefits:
Hamstring and glute stretches can help relieve lower back pain and sciatica: try forward folds and a seated twist
Strong standing poses like Tree Pose can strengthen your feet and promote proper alignment in preparation for lots of walking
Core exercises and chest openers can help you stand straight and prevent slouch-related aches: try cat pose and sun salutation
Plan the Right Outfit for Conventions
Just like fitness training, the outfit you plan for the show can make or break your weekend’s wellness. Clothing that doesn’t fit properly and shoes that are either too new or too uncomfortable are just not made for walking all day.
I wore a pair of ankle boots that come with a 1.5 inch chunky heel. They’re about 7 years old and I bought them from Aerosoles — known for prioritizing comfort with high quality, affordable shoes.
Tip: If blood flow and swelling is an issue for you, compression socks and tights may prove helpful.
I wore sleek, black jeans paired with a bright colored blouse on Trade Day (when I had my meetings). In trendy NYC, black jeans = looking sharp, and I’m glad I stuck with it because everyone was dressed pretty work-casual (lots of khaki and black trousers).
I noticed a few people who didn’t plan the right outfits and they were suffering. Crouching from painful stiletto heels or constantly readjusting ill-fitting outfits, they looked tired, uncomfortable, and itching to go home.
Don’t Forget to Nourish Your Temple
Your body is your temple! Hydrate frequently — even if it means you make multiple trips to the bathroom. If cost is an issue, bring a water bottle with you. The show didn’t check bags, nor did they prohibit us from having water and lunch of our own.
It is easy to forget to eat or drink at a convention… until it is too late. Schedule an alarm on your phone to set break reminders if you have trouble remembering. You can choose to sit at one of the many multi-level seating areas (I found the lower level to offer the most seating… albeit in exchange for sunlight).
Tip: as much as I love candy, I tried to avoid sweet snacks at the show. Sugary snacks will get that sugar rush going, but also make you crash… hard. I don’t drink coffee but if you can’t function without caffeine (and don’t want to stop cold turkey at the travel show), there were plenty of coffee spots.
Learn to Walk Away & Listen to Your Body
Overall, I had a pretty successful first-time show. Despite some annoyances with booths that clearly only market to white middle-aged consumers (get with the times, y’all!) I entered all the giveaways I wanted to enter, attended press sessions and blogger events, and connected with really awesome writers, creators, marketing / PR professionals, and other travel industry experts.
But the truth is, I was exhausted after day one, let alone day two. I was losing my voice after back-to-back meetings and conversations, catching a cold, and getting nervous about my packed schedule the next day (which included more traveling for my first trip of 2019).
So I stopped.
On the second day of the travel show, I changed my bus ticket to depart that evening (instead of the next day). I realized I’d planned my time so well, that I’d completed my to-do list and could totally go home a day early! For the sake of my wellness, I did just that — and didn’t regret it.
Celebrate Your Achievements
Before I go to any conference or show, I set goals for myself. Many times, booking at least one partnership or client equating to a certain dollar amount marks a successful event, though there are many other measures of success.
Success can mean taking the lead in front of a crowd when I know it is outside my comfort zone. Success is trying something new, and ignoring the stares. Success is initiating meetings and talking about my achievements to a potential partner. Success is feeling confident in proudly calling myself “a professional photographer/writer” among a sea of other professionals.
It is easy to get lost in the comparison game, and these shows are a true test of your confidence. So give yourself a pat on the back (or go book a foot massage!) and celebrate you showing up and taking your profession and passion for travel seriously.
Is the New York Times Travel Show Worth Attending?
For the business goals I set for myself, I found the show to be worth it. However, if you are not in the travel industry and simply just love travel, you’ll enjoy this show for its show big discounts (people willing to book vacations onsite can get huge deals) and schedule full of entertainment. You’ll also have the chance to receive free travel consulting if you ask the right questions!
When you plan accordingly, take note of the survival tips above, and prioritize your wellness, you’ll find the show to be a fun time. For someone interested in getting their foot in the door and having real conversations with industry professionals, this is definitely a show you’ll want to attend — and now you know how to avoid the overwhelm that comes with it!
Did you attend the show? Share your thoughts below or save this post on Pinterest to read later!