New York Travel Festival Promises An Interactive Experience

Travel is an industry that’s evolving rapidly and if you like to have your finger on the pulse, attending a travel show is a great way to get up to speed on the latest developments. The first ever New York Travel Festival is coming up next month, and it promises to shake up the traditional concept of a consumer travel show – here visitors are expected to really take part and interact with the exhibitors.

The event kicks off on Saturday, April 20, at NYC’s Bohemian National Hall, where visitors will take part in food and drink tastings, attend travel workshops and learn about the latest trends.

A number of the travel industry’s top influencers will deliver a series of talks on everything from responsible travel to the latest in gay and lesbian travel.

Road warriors with more passport stamps than you can shake a stick at will share their tips on how you can avoid being scammed across the globe, ways to plan your trip like an expert and how you can refine your travel bucket list. Gadling’s own editor, Grant Martin, will share his thoughts during a panel about what we can expect from the ever-changing world of travel media.

Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a “travel” festival if it didn’t include some travel, so on Sunday, attendees will hit the streets of NYC. Some of the guided activities on offer include a tour if the city’s best pizza places, brewery and winery tours, an underground tour of the most interesting subway buskers, immigrant food tours and more.

Click here to buy tickets to the event and register for activities.

‘Riding Shotgun’ Takes Viewers On A Comic Travel Adventure

Have you ever watched a travel show and felt that the glossy representation of the destination was just a little bit too perfect? As though real travel, with all its crazy, kooky experiences, was so much more than that? That’s exactly how Zach Anner – a self-confessed goofball – felt about travel, and his passion for all things offbeat has led to his own web travel show, “Riding Shotgun.”

Zach is wheelchair bound after being born with cerebral palsy, but that hasn’t stopped the Texas-based 28-year-old from quenching his thirst for adventure and seeing the world.

Zach, who has a background in standup comedy, became an Internet sensation in 2010 after he entered Oprah’s search for the next TV star. After briefly starring in his own TV show for the OWN network, Zach turned his attention to his new project, “Riding Shotgun.”The web-based comedy travel series takes viewers on a quirky cross-country trip. Reddit readers got to call the shots on where Zach and his team would go and how they’d spend their time in each city. We’re happy to report that Zach is hosting some of his excellent show over at AolOn, our video network.

Check out the videos and get to know this fun travel host.

Popular Destinations, Beyond Guidebooks

Taking another look at popular destinations from an expert’s point of view, “Park Secrets” premieres tonight on the Travel Channel. The new series shows secret adventures that we might not see in the guidebooks, along with great places to stay, eat and play.

In the premiere episode, “Bright Lights, Big City,” viewers explore parks hiding in plain sight in some of America’s favorite big cities. Featured in the fast-paced show are Greek temples and spicy BBQ in Nashville; pancakes, bears and a secret farm in Boston; and popsicles and voyeurism on an elevated rail line in New York.

Another episode, “Private Islands,” explores more of the best, unknown and secluded getaways that everyone can take. Not only for the rich and famous, “Park Secrets” points out that with the right tricks we can turn an island based-retreat into our own private getaway.

Set in Puerto Rico, the “Private Islands” episode offers a tour of Hix Island House, a beautiful 13-acre natural lodging refuge; El Quenepo, a restaurant known for its authentic cuisine; and a 19th-century sugar plantation at Central Playa Grande.

The six episode “Park Secrets” series premieres tonight with both of these episodes back-to-back with “Bright Lights, Big City” at 8:00 p.m. and “Private Islands” 8:30 p.m., ET/PT.

[Flickr photo via ronny]

Video of the Day – Drop everything and travel

If you’re an avid reader of Gadling, you’ve probably contemplated putting everything on hold and traveling the world for a year. Hopefully today’s Video of the Day will give you some more inspiration to act on that desire.

Originally produced for Canada’s Outdoor Life Network, Departures is a TV series that follows high school friends Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach as they put their lives on hold to explore some of the most fascinating destinations on Earth. It not only features a great cast and outstanding cinematography, but also focuses on the experiences of the journey and not just the destinations. If you’ve never seen an episode, I highly recommend checking it out.

The show wrapped after only 3 seasons of production, but covers 30 exotic destinations over the course of 42 hour-long episodes. If you’re in the States, Halogen TV is currently airing the first season, otherwise you can track down DVD box sets on the Departures website.

Have you acted upon the urge to drop everything to travel? Were you lucky enough to capture some memories? We want to see it! Drop us a link in the comments section below and it could be our next Video of the Day.

Sidesplitting travel podcast hits the air

It’s absolutely amazing what you find on the net: just the other day I was trawling around some safe-for-work soft core sites when I happened upon the Mike & Alex Show. Thinking I’d already seen that one, I just clicked onward. Later, however (while carefully deleting my browser’s history), I realized that no, no, this was the MIke & Alex TRAVEL Show. “OH!” I laughed out loud, then sat down for the most thrilling half-hour of my life.

The podcast genre was long overdue for a kick in the pants and these two boys promise to do just that. For starters, both of their last names start with the letter “B”, as in brilliant. Mike Barish and Alex(ander) Basek use their show to discuss everyday travel issues but without any of the soft-serve mollycoddling for which “podcast” has become synonymous. Also, these are funny guys who say funny things about travel stuff. In their very first audio issue, Mike & Alex take on Amsterdam’s coffee shops and airplane movies and you’ll agree with them 100%.

Honestly, I was hoping the show would sound less professional and more like emotionally-disturbed children taking razor blades to the Washington Post’s travel section (there’s still hope). I really have no idea who these two clowns are but ouch, my funny bone is hurting. Imagine your most hilarious guy friends sitting at the bar talking travel. In fact–Come to think of it, Mike Barish is the name of this guy I know who writes for Gadling.

Yeah, so a few things that might make the podcast funnier: some heavy-handed laugh tracks, more rubber chickens and perhaps a little tasteful post-racial repartee. Also, maybe they could play 30Rock really loud in the background?

To join the fastest-growing cult in the world, check out the site, the Twitter, and the Facebook. Otherwise, subscribe on iTunes and get ready for next week’s trip to awesome.