This year I’ve attended two travel shows: The Adventure Travel Show in January and the ever popular Destinations: the holiday and travel show. This time when I went I organised my day around all the talks I wanted to attend, which I hadn’t done in previous years. It did mean that at the Adventure Travel Show I was constantly running from one talk to another and as a consequence ended up ridiculously exhausted by the end of the day and unable to string a sentence together! (Obviously this went super well when in my most exhausted state I spotted HeyNadine and went over to chat to her.) Despite all this though, I left there inspired and happy. There’s something to be said for listening to other people’s experiences of travel, especially if they have decided to see the country a different way than you would or have been somewhere you hadn’t even previously considered. At the Destinations Show I took it a little easier and went to less talks to give me a chance to wander round all the stalls at a more leisurely pace, which worked out well considering it is a much bigger event than the Adventure Travel Show.
Over the course of both shows I got to listen to some amazing people talk about their adventures as well as listen to travel companies talk about the beauty of visiting a specific place or country – both of which are equally valuable, I just enjoy the former more. So without further ado, my favourite talks and why you should seek them out if they ever give talks in your neck of the woods:
According to his website, Simon Reeve “an adventurer and New York Times bestselling author and TV presenter who has traveled to more than 110 countries making multiple award-winning TV series for the BBC.” He is by far my favourite person to listen to speak because he has countless experiences to draw on. He comes across as a genuinely likeable person who is eternally grateful for the life he gets to live and the places he gets to see and is passionate about showing everyone every little corner of our great planet. He is also super passionate about how through travel we should give back to local communities and look after the world. I am trying very hard not to gush whilst writing this but I’m pretty sure it’s inevitable so apologies in advance! I went to his talks at both the Adventure Travel Show and the Destinations Show (where he was talking as part of the Stanford Travel Writers Festival) and they were equally awesome. Some of my favourite stories or things that will stick with me were:
- the story of a B&B owner who’s B&B is situated on the side of the Black Mountain in Turkey. You cannot drive there as there is a deep valley so he built a homemade zip wire 400m above ground level to get from one side to the other with space for bags, built the take the weight of a cow.
- the fact that in petrol stations in Greece you can buy a seat belt buckle to clip into your seat belt so the expensive German cars assume you are wearing a seatbelt when you are not…
- the story of how he accidentally led himself and his camera crew into a drug den where there were guns and had to backtrack fairly quickly out of a potential dangerous situation
- the description of standing on the Turkey/Syria border and hearing the pounding of artillery hiting Aleppo whilst everything was peaceful on the Turkish side
- the story of the little boy that was rescued and grew up to work in tiger conservation, which had Simon Reeve getting emotional as he told it. I may have got some dust in my eye around this point, I definitely wasn’t tearing up, nope.
Lois Pryce is a best selling author who has travelled from Alaska to Argentina, across Africa and the length of Iran all on her trusty motorcycle. She is also the co-ounder of The Adventure Travel Film Festival. She gave a talk on her trip across Iran for The Adventure Travel Show and it was wonderful to listen to her experiences of the kind people that cropped up throughout her travels. Her original idea of visiting Iran came about because her motorbike was parked on a London street and an unknown gentleman left her a handwritten note about how she should visit Iran as it is great and the people are very friendly; this was back in 2011, in the height of the political tension. After reading this, she decided, well why not? There is so much around telling us not to visit certain countries and Pryce decided she would go find out what Iran was like for herself. And her story is a wonderful one of true Iranian hospitality. Whilst on her motorbike, she was chased by people and nearly run off the road just because they wanted to give her fruit! The police, however, were just confused why she would chose to ride around Iran for fun.
Her talk was accompanied by photos of the beautiful landscape, buildings and people she met on her travels. A lovely talk that further accentuated the idea fact that we should not listen to everything we hear or read and chose to make up our own minds instead.
Simon was giving a talk at The Adventure Travel Show on running a marathon in North Korea on behalf of Really Wild Challenges. Now I have absolutely no desire to run a marathon but I was interested to hear about his experiences of North Korea and I wasn’t disappointed. Varley is a brilliantly informative and humorous speaker. His talk was full of great photos and funny annecdotes. My favourite of which, were:
- the fact that his bottle of whiskey (that he keeps to celebrate after a race) was taken off him at N. Korea customs, the page of The Daily Mail that it was wrapped in confiscated and then his whiskey returned
- it was empty absolutely everywhere, even main roads and highways
- his group got to stay in the Olympic Village because they were running the marathon. The village was absolutely empty and no one ever explained for what Olympics it was built.
- there is a museum dedicated to the building of the public train transport system and next to that, there is a museum dedicated to the museum dedicated to the building of the transport system
- they were filmed the whole time they were out there, told it was to remember their experience by and given a DVD of the trip, but then the cameraman continued filming them for 24 hours after they’d received their DVDs.
- near the end of the marathon, an Ethiopian was leading, with the N. Korean running in second. The Ethiopian ran into the stadium following the pacer car and then realised the pacer car had turned the wrong way so he had to backtrack and race towards the finish line. Due to this the N. Korean won. The marathon DVD doesn’t show this, just the N. Korean crossing the finish line.There are actually a few more, but I feel this list is already too long!
I also went to some great talks on New Zealand and Antarctica (so many photos of penguins!) as these are both firmly on my bucket list. I’m definitely going to make an effort to hear more travel talks in future, I left feeling full of knowledge and inspiration.
What are some of your favourite talks from travel shows? Let me know in the comments below.