Last Friday I went on a road trip down to Manchester to attend Destinations The Holiday & Travel Show being held at Event City, a large conference centre near the Trafford Centre. The travel event was on from Thursday 18 th till Sunday 21st January and I had been sent a pair of complimentary tickets to attend. I jumped at the chance as I thought it would give me new ideas for my travels and lots of inspiration, plus a great chance to network with fellow travel friends!
I arrived early with my partner as I knew it would be a popular event for people passionate about travel. As I entered the room I had a quick look to see who was at which stand and I began to wander around the conference room seeking out new travel inspiration. There were 150 brands and 30 tourist boards featured here, such as British Airways, G Adventures, the Moroccan, Sri Lankan and Barbados Tourist Boards, Royal Caribbean, Starling Bank and a MASTA Travel Health Zone where you could seek travel advice, to name but a few. Alongside they had a Food & Travel Stage where you could watch live cookery classes, chosen celebrities talking about their travel experiences and a Meet the Experts Theatre. It was going to be a fun packed day!!
I mingled and chatted to many of the exhibitors and brands, however there were a few that stood out from the crowd and I wanted to tell you a little more about.
British Airways had a great stall promoting their 7 New Direct Routes from Manchester Airport this summer only, to Malaga, Alicante, Nice, Mykonos, Ibiza, Majorca and a weekly service to London City Airport too. Stansted have also launched ‘new‘ flights to Florence, Geneva and Nice with BA and an increased amount of flights to Ibiza and Palma. Many thanks to the British Airways team for all the travel goodies too.
Starling Bank was a great find, especially for me. They are a UK ‘mobile only’ bank that offer ‘No Fees Overseas‘ when using their bank card. Now I can’t speak for all, but this is a problem for me on many occasions being charged when on my travels for using my bank card. I was all ears as the enthusiastic team from Starling talked me through how it all works and I am pleased to say it’s very simple and you can keep track of everything on their app on your mobile! They advise you first use it as a travel account and if you are thrilled with it, then move over from your current bank and use it as a main account. My hubby and I now have an account each and will receive a card in the post any day, however you can use your card on your app straight away. The process was simple to apply, security wise they authenticate your bank account by you sending a short video stating who you are to them and taking a photo of your Identity. All of it can done from your mobile. They have a 24/7 customer support team and my favourite part of the app is the section marked ‘Goals‘ whereby you can create your own goal and save towards it separately from your bank account. Such as travels to a specific country or a round the world trip and you can add money whenever you wish too. I recommend you have a read about this bank, I think it’s going to prove very popular….
The Cuba Tourist Board certainly opened my eyes to what was on offer in Cuba, as I have previously visited the country quite a few years ago and stayed on the Cayo’s. I definitely want to see Havana and experience ‘authentic’ Cuba. I spoke with Juan Sanchez from ‘All About Tailor-made Travel Ltd’ who offered so much great advice of where to go and what to see, my head to trying to work out when I could fit this trip in! Vinales is an area he spoke highly of and it looked picture perfect, along with the Island of Cayo Levisa where you stay in a beach bungalow. He offers great trips to Cuba and recommends the weekly Friday flight with Thomas Cook to Varadero, with prices for a return from £399 pp!! I was very glad I had attended this travel show for the advice and tips alone.
Travel Eyes is a travel company with a difference, it offers tours and trips around the world to travellers who are blind or partially sighted and to full sighted people who wish to help aid them for a discounted price. Set up in 2004 by Amar Latif, whom himself is 95% blind having lost his sight at age 18. His mission is to allow the blind and visually impaired a chance to travel, as the holidays focus on ‘all of the 5 senses’. Sighted people can enjoy them too, “as they are sharing their sight with others and seeing the world from a new perspective”. I would like to look into taking one of these trips as I think it’s a brilliant idea and not excluding people. It’s all about inclusion and learning from each other!
Malta Tourist Board has certainly ‘pricked’ my interest in going to explore Malta and specifically Gozo, I learnt a lot about the life on the Island from the lady at the tourist board and I am currently looking at a trip for July to visit Gozo for a few days!! It is still very traditional and the locals leave their doors open to their homes and feel no need to lock their valuables away, this is a great way of living and they are lucky to have retained it too. Look out for my adventure there in the not too distant future…
Escape to India exhibit was where I met the lovely Lynn from Scotland, whose business is offering tailor made trips to India, Kerala, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. She has made over 40 visits to India herself and is very knowledgeable indeed, especially as a solo lady traveller. I have longed to go to India, being honest it’s never happened yet because I don’t know which parts to see and where is best. After a chat that lasted over an hour and a half, Lynn had paved a journey around the ‘Golden Triangle’ for me and my hubby, we are looking to go early next year. I also ended up chatting about Marrakech and she would like me to help her plan a trip there in the near future (I love swapping travel tips!).
Israel Tourist Board was a must see exhibitor, due to pure intrigue on my part. I chatted with members of the team and learnt a lot more about Tel Aviv itself, which has much to offer the traveller and about trips you could make to Jerusalem and Bethlehem that I would certainly be interested in doing!! At present I am looking to organise a trip to Tel Aviv throughout this year and currently researching my options.
Moroccan Tourist Board was one of the first places I went to see, as you all know I love Marrakech and I was talking to the lady from Air Arabia about their flights and the availability as I am looking into a short break to Fez this year. They fly from Manchester, London Gatwick and Dublin to Tangier, Fez, Casablanca, Agadir, Marrakech and Nador. Offering value for money to it’s customers.
After working my way around the exhibitors, I had a well earned coffee and numerous new travel ideas were popping around my head! Before I left I went to see the ‘Travel Photo Of The Year’ exhibit, where the finalists photos were displayed. The photographs were amazing and it was great to see so much talent on show.
Overall I had a brilliant experience at my first travel show as a travel blogger and I am now looking for more to attend! If you know of any please let me know. I gained more travel tips and loads more inspiration to places I possibly wouldn’t have thought about before.