About Pamela Dittmer McKuen

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Discover the World at the Travel & Aventure Show

Pam and Brenda are dreaming of Venice at the Chicago Travel and Adventure Show
Pam and Brenda are dreaming of Venice at the Chicago Travel and Adventure Show

A single day at the Travel and Adventure Show will inspire your vacations for the next several years.

The two-day annual event, held mid-winter in major cities, beckons adventurers to locale both near and far. Both freestyle and packaged getaways can be discovered, mapped and booked (often at show-special prices) in a massive convention hall. While you’re at it, you can ride a live camel and learn to drive a Segway.

Even if you’re not able to travel at all, time spent at the show will make you feel like you’ve been somewhere.

My friend and sometime travel companion, Brenda, and I trekked through the Chicago show in January. We heard about gigantic ocean liners and small sight-seeing vessels, 101 things to do in Shipshewana and how to enjoy three days in Iceland. We chatted up African safari guides and LGBTQ-friendly hosts. We had our photograph taken at the Travel Channel booth against a faux Venice backdrop.

Several stages presented non-stop entertainment, advice and enticements. Noted authors (Patricia Schultz, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die”) and Cheryl Strayed, “Wild”) signed books. Oceanic Cruises and Alexander + Roberts gave OMG travelogues. There were cooking demonstrations and Bollywood dancers. Mariachis strolled the aisle near the Mexico exhibit.

Mariachis strolled near the Mexico exhibit
Mariachis strolled near the Mexico exhibit

Photographer extraordinaire and international travel guide Ralph Velasco gave a seminar, “How to Improve Your Travel Photography.” Here are a few of his tips:

* Plan ahead. Don’t buy a camera the day before you leave, figuring you’ll read the manual on the plane. You need to feel comfortable with your camera and what it can do.

* Shoot early in the morning. That’s when the natural lighting is more interesting, and when cities are awakening, crowds are thinner, animals are moving about and crime rates are lower.

* If you don’t like getting up early, be a writer,” he said.

* Noon is the worst time to shoot. The strong sun makes harsh shadows. Animals retreat to their dens and nests. Go back to your hotel for a siesta. Or check out interior spaces like churches and museums.

* Instead of using your Zoom lens, get closer to your subject. “Zoom with your feet,” he said.

* There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

At the end of the day, our shopping bags were laden with brochures and catalogs. Where shall we go next? Anywhere. Everywhere. Soon. Now.

Ride a camel at the Travel and Adventure Show
Ride a camel at the Travel and Adventure Show

The Travel and Adventure Show is produced in  major U.S. cities including Washington, DC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas and Los Angeles.

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