Last Friday, I took a half-day leave so we can go to the Philippine Travel and Tour Expo in SMX. It was our 3rd time attending the expo but I still got overwhelmed by the volume of people and variety of promos to choose from. We arrived at 9:30 am (gates open at 10am) and the ticket line already snaked around the building! Good thing C's client gave us free tickets so we were able to get inside and line up in front of the hall entrance.
Since I had to be in the office by 1pm, we only lined up in one of the airline booths and booked two flights. We didn't have enough time to go around and compare prices since it took us almost 2 hours to go through the whole process. Although compared to last year's experience, this year was less of a hassle because we already had a rough game plan and a list of places we want to visit. The only boo-boo we had was we forgot to book a flight to Cebu so we can finally get to use one of our wedding gifts!
Going to the expo is only half of the battle. You should already be prepared at least the day before going there because you need to have a strategy or else you'll just end up with a pile of flyers and no purchases.
So here are some tips for surviving the travel expo next year:
At least 1 day before going to the expo
- List down the places you want to visit - Have a top 10 list of your preferred domestic and international destinations.
- Visit airline websites to check their flight schedules - Knowing the flight schedules to your preferred destinations helps you plot out travel dates.
- Prepare the things you need to bring to the expo:
- Passport - or note down your passport number, date issued, and expiration date. Note down your travel companions' details as well
- Planner/Calendar - to see when's the best time for you to travel. Also note down holidays and special occasions.
- A pen - for signing charge slips and taking down notes
- Credit card/s and a valid ID- safer to bring a card because it gets really crowded
- Some cash - you can pay for your travel tax of Php 1,620 here and some only accept cash for this.
- Water and snacks - it's not fun to faint from hunger
- A companion or two - to take turns with when lining up :)
Before entering the hall
- Note down the stall numbers of the booths you want to check out - they provide maps but it only shows the lay-out of the area and not the booth names
- Grab a copy of the map if you can - it's quite easy to navigate through the halls since they are divided by letters
Inside the expo
- Go straight to the booths you really want to go first - line up or get someone to line up for you
- Do not get all the flyers that are handed out to you - first, you waste paper. Second, it's harder to look for the flyers that you are actually interested in if you need to manage more than a handful of paper
- Drop by the country booths - sometimes they give away free stuff like food and booklets
- Check out travel agencies for their promos - yes, I have to admit, travelling with a group is more convenient than making your own itinerary (but I still like making my own)
After the expo
- Give yourself a pat on the back - you survived!
- Keep all documents in safe place - most probably you'll only leave after a few months so it's best to store them properly
- Note down your travel dates in your planner - also file for vacation leaves already if needed
Going to the Travel and Tour Expo is really worth it. Next year, we'll definitely be there again!