If I'm honest, Destinations always arrives a little too early for me. I'm only just about back in a swimming routine and my inbox is still bursting at the seams as I carry on ploughing through emails in an attempt to catch up after Christmas and New Year festivities.
The hard working travel industry, however, wake up to the new year far more swiftly than me. Because the period of time from Boxing Day morning, through January and into February is the traditional Peak selling time for holidays. 'Peaks' are all about hitting challenging booking targets, capturing as many deposits as possible: basically banking lots of cash before the holiday season begins and the emphasis switches to 'late' sales.
Destinations: The Holiday and Travel Show, comes to London's Earl's Court on 5 - 6th February (27 Feb - 1 March at NEC, Birmingham). The show gives tour operators and tourist boards the chance to display their wares face to face with the consumer, rather than via lead-in prices online, in shop windows or with expensive, eye-catching TV advertising campaigns.
Now in its 15th year, Destinations' raison d'être is to provide a stage for a more varied mix of travel options and heaps of inspiration to help uncommitted holidaymakers get booking. Special discounts are often offered to incentivise bookings during the show.
Increasingly active at Destinations are travel publishers Bradt and the travel magazine Wanderlust. This is no bad thing at all. I'd much rather see the infectious passion of these two independent travel publishers entertaining the crowds than the flashy stands and soapy strap lines of any multi-national travel conglomerates in the vicinity.
Bradt's stage-stealers at Destinations 2009
Peter Lynch, author of Wildlife and Conservation Volunteering: The Complete Guide, will offer advice to anyone who's contemplating a career break ( 5th Feb, 13.00, Theatre 1)
Adrian Phillips, Bradt's Editorial Director, will interview world affairs correspondent Allan Little ( 5 Feb, 14.00, Theatre 1 )
Bradt's David Horwell, an expert on the Galápagos Islands, will explain how tourism can protect this unique archipelago. It's a chance to learn more about these enchanted islands and see David's stunning photography ( 5th February at 5pm;Theatre 2 )
Bradt's Polly Evans chairs the 'Going Solo' panel (6th Feb 14.00, Theatre 2)
Bradt's founder, Hilary Bradt, interviews BBC presenter Kate Humble on her travels and her pioneering website, StuffYourRucksack.com (6th Feb, 16.00 Theatre 1)
Mike Unwin, series editor of Bradt's wildlife guides, author of Southern African Wildlife and co-author of 100 Animals to See Before They Die gives a talk on Swaziland (6 February at 4pm; Theatre 2)
Activities Abroad won't be exhibiting (just in case any chavs happen to make it into Earl's Court), but these Sandwagon-spotted operators are just a few of those waiting to inspire you:
Addicted To Travel - Online portal specialising in experiential, adventure and different travel experiences.
Arctic Wild Adventures - Family-run adventure holiday tour company providing tailored holidays in Arctic regions
Away From The Crowds - Two brothers' desire to enjoy real travel experiences, whilst remaining in touch with nature and local culture resulted in these original ways to discover the Spanish heartland
Fulani Travel - Tours that do justice to the world’s most culturally rich and diverse continent. Countries visited include Libya, Senegal, Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Sudan.
The Times are producing a 16-page Destinations and Show Guide which will be inserted into The Times tomorrow.
Grab a copy, buy your tickets and plan your trip to Destinations.
Related Sandwagon posts
Image courtesy of Destinations: The Travel and Holiday Show