Hearing from the Experts at D.C. Travel and Adventure Show (photos)

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Thousands of would-be travelers attended the 13th annual D.C. Travel and Adventure Show, Jan. 14 and 15 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, and more than 260 exhibitors were on hand to help them plan that perfect vacation.

“We are after anyone who loves travel,” said the show’s CEO, John Golicz, who likes to use the term “travel enthusiasts” to describe his target audience. When asked about current trends, he said: “Unique experiences. They want to be able to personalize them in some way and gain access others might not.” Hot areas right now are the Pacific Rim, Japan, Fiji and parts of the Middle East. “South America is becoming an alternative to Europe,” he added.

The show boasted four theaters and more than 30 sessions, including cultural performances and cooking tips. You can’t just rely on the internet for factual information, according to Golicz. One of the nice things about the show, he said, is that you can talk directly to experts to help you plan. Among the celebrity travel speakers were Samantha Brown, Peter Greenberg, guidebook scion Pauline Frommer and Patricia Schultz, author of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.”

Some of the travel tips offered by keynote speaker Pauline Frommer:

Beware of internet-sourced reviews. Many of them are phony or just plain inaccurate. It’s a good idea to rely on journalists, guidebooks and experts, and to work with an agent aware of your personal needs. Also be aware that every company you go to on the web is “scraping” you for information about your buying habits.

With the recent strength in the U.S. dollar against other world currencies, it’s a great time to travel abroad. In five years the euro has declined from $1.45 to $1.05. Similar trends have occurred against the British pound, Japanese yen and Canadian dollar.

The cheapest days of the week to fly are Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Timing is everything when booking flights. You can save 11 percent on flights to Europe by booking 176 days in advance and 10 percent by booking domestic flights 57 days before travel. Best websites for airfares, according to Frommer, are skyscanner.net and momondo.com. Also be aware of being dinged by the airline for miscellaneous add-on charges and reduced options to make subsequent changes to your flight plans.

Do not book travel insurance through the travel provider. Frommer recommends squaremouth.com, insuremytrip.com and travelInsurance.com.

On cruises, avoid booking shore excursions with the ship in favor of doing it on your own or hiring a qualified local guide.

The show runs in several other cities, but, says Golicz: “Our exhibitors love the D.C. show because they get a very educated crowd. People ask good questions, they’ve done their homework.”

*View Jeff Malet’s photos from the D.C. Travel and Adventure Show by clicking on the photo icons below.*

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