Postcards & Passports

Expert Travel Tips You Can’t Go Without

This post was most recently updated on July 23rd, 2020

Want to know how you can learn more about travel? Attend a Travel and Adventure Show near you…or just read this post and I’ll share with you. I heard of this show a year ago, but couldn’t attend. So this year, I made it a priority, and I’m really glad I did because I learned so many expert travel tips and really had a good time.

The Travel and Adventure Show began thirteen years ago. It’s an “enthusiast” show, just like a boat or auto show, Consumer Electronics show, or Comic-Con…except it’s for people who love to travel! You can find more information about places you want to visit, ask questions, see cultural and cooking demonstrations, and receive expert travel tips on photography, tours, cruises, travelling on a budget, cuisine, and so much more!

The show is held in several major cities each year; this year, it will be in San Diego, Chicago, Dallas, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Travel experts in all areas come to share their knowledge for the price of a $12 ticket (less if you find it on Groupon!) It’s a great deal. You’ll go away with all kinds of tips to help you plan, recipes for amazing international food, lots of tote bags full of goodies, and several new places to add to your must-see travel list!

This is what I learned at the Travel and Adventure Show:

1. Some interesting facts

  • Most people have a list of 5-7 destinations they’d like to visit within the next few years
  • Travel show visitors are planning a ratio of 50/50 domestic vs international travel
  • 75% of travel show visitors will eventually book a tour or package discovered at the show
  • Based on a survey, the top 3 international travel destinations for show attendees are Europe, Australia/New Zealand, and Africa

Travel Expert Tips


2.  Author Patricia Schultz

Expert Travel Tips

author Patricia Schultz

(of the book, “1000 Places to See Before You Die”)

It was just a delight to hear Patricia Schultz speak! She has had so many unique experiences and is so happy to share them with everyone. When she was 50 years old, she decided to take on Machu Picchu. She was terribly sick from altitude sickness, but was inspired by an 80-year old woman who was there to fulfill her bucket dreams!

My favorite quote from Patricia is “Your knees have expiration dates.” So she encourages everyone to travel NOW, and not wait till you have more money or more time. “Make your priorities happen!”, she says. She noted that “We also have expiration dates, and so do some of the places we’d like to visit.” For example, you can’t travel to Syria now.

One of Patricia’s favorite quotes is:

“Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”  –Asian proverb

Here are some of the locations in Europe that Patricia suggests you see:

Paris makes a great base for travelling throughout Europe because the train system is fantastic. For example, a train ride from Paris to London is only 2 hours!

“Paris is always a good idea!” – Audrey Hepbourne

Expert Travel Tips

Paris street scene, credit: Jennifer Eugenie

Scandinavia has some wonderful cruises, the Norwegian fjords are beautiful, and we are coming to the end of a peak 11-year cycle of northern lights. She suggests flying to Oslo and then making your way to Bergen, which is the gateway to the Fjords.

Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, has become one of the four most visited cities in Europe. It is rich in music and is often called the city of spires.

 Expert Travel Tips

Panorama of Prague, credit: Jakub Hruska

The Danube River is the second longest river in Europe. If you take a Danube River cruise, you can go through four capital cities: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Belgrade.

Patricia also told us that Slovakia has finally caught on as an American tour destination, as well as Romania where the euro is not used and it is much cheaper to travel. Romanian highlights include Transylvania, the Carpathian mountains, and the beautifully painted monasteries of Bucovina.

City of Brasov in Transylvania, Romania, credit: Zoltan Suga

City of Brasov in Transylvania, Romania, credit: Zoltan Suga

3. Photography tips from Ralph Velasco

Travel photographer and international guide

Travel Expert Tips

Ralph Velasco

  • Prepare for travel photography (check gear, clean/charge/update everything, back up devices on external drives, know how to use your gear, download manuals to pdf and send to yourself in an email, travel light)
  • Arrive early at your destination (acclimate, de-jet-lag, get the lay of the land, confirm plans, set current date on camera in year-month-day format)
  • Photography tips: watch your step, safety first, be considerate of others, always look behind you, take care where your shadow is, have a healthy curiosity and patience, work from a “shot list” so you can prioritize (you can’t shoot it all!)
  • Replace your photo card before you’ve taken the last photo, “stop-look-recognize-shoot”, wait for it, pre-set your camera settings so you can shoot in “automatic” mode, get into the rhythm of a place, “don’t delay–shoot away”, photograph in landscape and portrait for nearly every shot, shoot in RAW as opposed to JPEG, and watch your backgrounds (something is either in or out, not halfway).
  • You can’t get worse at photography, get your work out there and share it, take classes and travel and shoot some more!

    Travel Expert Tips

    Trakai Island castle in Lithuania, credit: Ralph Velasco

  • The best camera to use is the one you’ve got with you
  • Favorite quote: “If you don’t like getting up early, be a writer!” – Patrick Symmes (Don’t miss those early morning sunrises and perfect lighting)
  • Velasco’s #1 travel photography tip is: Spend more time on travel and less money on gear!

4. Travel Channel TV Host Samantha Brown

I learned so much from Samantha! She has a wealth of information and is happy to share it with all who will listen. I also found her outlook on travel to be refreshing and honest; her views on why you should travel and how important it is to travel with family align with mine. She was inspiring! Unfortunately, there’s not room here to cover everything she told us, but I’ve included the highlights.

Experts say that traveling benefits marriages, strengthens families, develops better brain health, and helps you be more productive and creative at work. Travel comes out on top when you compare it to family birthday/holiday celebrations as the way to pull your family closer. Travel also helps you solve problems in your life. When you are in a new environment, you are open, more vulnerable, and more conducive to new solutions.

More than all these, travel has emotional value, which you cannot put a pricetag on. Especially when you make human connections. As you explore different cultures, meet and talk to people, make new acquaintances and friends, you expand yourself and your spirit exponentially. These are experiences that change you for the better!

Expert Travel Tips

Samantha’s favorite photo, from

How can you experience these unique travel experiences?

  • Get out of the past (don’t focus on museums only)
  • Ask yourself, “What are the people like now?
  • Put your map away and wander down side streets and alleys; be a part of the everyday life.
  • Put your phone away (“When you tap on a phone, you are not tapping into a better travel experience!”)
  • Avoid major attractions and look for the “mundane”…neighborhoods, hole-in-the-wall cafes where the native people hang out, alleys where children play, markets where locals work.
  • Visit piazzas and squares and tiny bridges and just sit and people-watch. Become part of the scene.

Samantha’s most valuable tips?

“Go for a walk” and “Create a daily ritual”

(For example, eat breakfast in the same cafe each morning so you can meet people and start conversations with them)

5. Pauline Frommer, from Frommer’s Guides

Expert Travel Trips

Paul Frommer

Pauline’s advice included many great resources for planning your own trips. I’ve used several she suggested, but she named a few I hadn’t heard of before. I’m definitely going to check them out! Pauline talked a lot about top trends in travel for 2016, and she explained there’s no better time to travel because the American dollar is doing well against all global currencies and gasoline prices are down.

Tips from Pauline:

  • Book your airline tickets on a weekend; prices are 19% less (This does not mean that traveling on weekends is cheaper, just booking your tickets on the weekend!).
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are the best days to fly.
  • The best websites to use for low fares are and Momondo is especially good because it includes train fares and doesn’t use cookies (which often result in higher prices on a return visit to a website).
  • is a website that will tell you when it’s worth it to purchase premium seats.
  • For hotels, use (1st choice) or (2nd choice). Airbnb, Homeaway, and VRBO are not as much of a bargain these days, since they’ve started adding consumer fees.
  • Travel insurance is generally a good idea, but NEVER buy it through the travel provider. Pauline’s suggestion is to use or Find the coverage you need and remember that the most expensive premium isn’t necessarily the best insurance for you.
  • River cruises are the newest big trend. Use or try no-name brands like to book your river cruise. It can be a great vacation because a lot of new ships have been built and the prices are flattening out. You get the best deals at the last minute or when you book in advance for low season.
  • For cruising in general, Pauline suggests you always book with a travel agent because they are often given perks or discounts they can pass on to you. She also advised not to take a cruise if you’re more interested in sightseeing on land. In her opinion, cruises don’t do land excursions well.

Pauline’s motto is “Spend less, see more!” I totally agree with that!

More Expert Travel Tips

I am excited to plan trips and use some of the great resources and expert travel tips given to me while attending the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show. I hope you have a chance to attend a travel show too. So much fun!

If you’re interested in the tips I’ve picked up from my own travels, you might enjoy:

Packing for Success

Seriously, How Can You Travel With Only a Carry-On Bag?

Don’t Buy a Dagger! (10 Travel Blunders and How to Avoid Them)

Tips for Terrific Travel Photography

How to Save Enough Money to Travel

You may also be interested in using , where you can trade homes with others all over the world, and stay for free!


29 thoughts on “Expert Travel Tips You Can’t Go Without

  1. Heather Young

    After reading this, a travel show sounds like SO much fun! I am definitely going to incorporate some of these tips on my upcoming trip to Hawaii–I plan on sitting back and relaxing, but also diving into the culture of my destination so I can really feel what it’s like to live on Hawaii.

    1. Tami Post author

      There’s a show coming up in San Francisco! But definitely enjoy your trip to Hawaii. The people there are so friendly and laid back!

  2. amanda

    I went to the Travel show last year and had a blast! I love Samantha Brown and totally agree about the positive effects travel has on the family! I’m in the process of tracking flights now. I’ll check out What was your favorite talk at the show?

  3. Jenni

    Great tips to help with photography. This is my passion at the moment and yes hopefully can’t get any worse lol. I’m going to a travel show in the uk soon can’t wait

  4. Eloise

    Thank you for sharing these valuable tips. I didn’t even know such a show existed. I’m bookmarking this article to come back to it later on and actually use these tips.
    My plan to visit Syria few years ago was postponed. I’m currently on crutches recovering from a knee injury. So Patricia Schultz’s words that you mentioned really directly touched me. A good read!

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  6. Donna Meyer

    Great tips from these travel pros. I especially loved the quotes from Patricia Schultz and am living proof that yes, indeed, “your knees have an expiration date.” Mine complain a lot that they are past their sell by date, but I keep pushing them anyway!

  7. Kavey at Kavey Eats

    Great post, love that we can benefit from the advice and tips and thought processes of these experts in their fields, even though we didn’t attend the show!

    I particularly love this quote from Patricia:

    “Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.” –Asian proverb

  8. Nisha

    Travel shows sound like much fun. Haven’t attended many but I once heard Patricia Schultz and she was wonderful. I m convinced that these tips are very useful. Will certainly incorporate a few.

    1. Tami Post author

      I agree. It’s the unique experiences that really stand out for me, too. Something off the beaten path or out of the ordinary.

  9. Marcus and Mellissa

    Sounds like a great show, it’s always good to meet and listen to other peoples experiences in person. Keeps you motivated and you can get some great tips.
    Love the quoted proverb – “Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”

  10. Christina Pfeiffer

    I was surprised to learn that Australia and New Zealand are among the top places people from your part of the world want to visit. I’m curious to know what exactly they are attracted to. Did they give you any clues as to why?

    1. Tami Post author

      I think it’s because a lot of Americans still hesitate to do “adventure trips”, but they see Australia and New Zealand as being civilized trips with a thrill, because it’s so far and exotic!

  11. k

    Always love reading tips as there is usually something new, however small, that you can learn. True about the “travel while you can” and also the photography tips are particularly useful.

  12. Reshma

    Wow! This is a consolidated post where the travel gurus have given some great tips! Being a traveler, I found them very valuable, especially about the flights. Loved the photography tips from Ralph. Thanks for sharing this.

  13. Debra Schroeder

    Nice writeup of the Travel and Adventure Show. I didn’t go this year but have attended in previous years. Loved the quote from Ralph Velasco about not getting worse at photography. But totally disagree with Pauline Former about her airline ticket tip.

    1. Tami Post author

      I’m curious about the airline ticket tip you didn’t agree with — what has been your experience?

      1. Debra Schroeder

        She said, “Book your airline tickets on a weekend; prices are 19% less.” Not sure where she got that information that buying on the weekend is cheaper than buying during the week. Blanket statements are usually incorrect.

        IMHE, the 21-day rule is a better indicator of savings, barring any sales or price drops.

  14. Megan Jerrard

    Quite the line up of speakers! I heard Patricia Schultz speak at the most recent TBEX and she is so inspirational – a highly engaging and entertaining woman – I’m so glad that I had the chance to take away a few pearls of travel wisdom from her!

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