Whenever I open up Instagram, the scroll is always pretty much the same – a few comical memes appear on my home screen, a few likes are dished out here and there. This process is repeated routinely until the recent posts are no more.
However, occasionally this practice can offer up some surprises. It was in the midst of a casual browsing that I came across The Telegraph Travel Show. It was shared by one of the guest speakers – a well-known traveller Gunnar Garfors. As his follower, I managed to get free tickets to the event.
The show was a three-day affair held in London’s ExCel. Comparable to university careers fairs, the various stalls were set out in grid formation and assigned to different companies offering excursions and opportunities across the globe. Innovative stalls were supposed to attract visitors to take part in more adventurous trips. ‘Peru safari’, for example, brought one of their 4×4’s to promote their excursions.
It was a pleasure to wander around between different “countries” and consider, which one to visit next. There was also a surprise for those who had a hard time deciding on where to go. The ‘Genius Bar’ in the centre of the venue boasted travel experts willing to give advice. If you were lost in your travel plans or sought inspiration, they were the people to see.
It was a pleasure to wander around between different “countries” and consider, which one to visit next
Another prominent feature of the show, labelled the ‘Destinations Theatre’, played host to specialist guests. The speakers covered a wide scope of travelling themes. All those I saw were exceptional, but Gunnar Garfors was very much my highlight. He is one of the few people able to claim to have been to every country and, at 27 years upon completion, he was the youngest to achieve this. Moreover, being “only” a hobby traveller, he maintained a full-time job alongside his excursions. It was after having read the book, 198: How I Ran Out of Countries, that I was hooked on his stories about adventures in some of the world’s obscurest locations. His talk during the show was titled: ‘Why am I Going Back to the Least Visited Countries in the World’,
The speakers covered a wide scope of travelling themes
Garfors started with a brief introduction on his travels and the least visited countries. Then he went straight to the main theme of his talk: the desire to come back to the least popular travel destinations. I found both Garfors and his anecdotes fascinating, particularly on what he calls ‘The Stans’. Now I’m all but determined to visit Kyrgyzstan or Turkmenistan in the near future.
Admittedly, the word ‘Travel’ in the name of the show may not have been the most applicable term. Perhaps the ‘Telegraph Holiday Show’ would have been more appropriate. Saying this, I do not suggest any disdain towards the show! It was definitely worth a visit, if not just for inspiration alone.
It was definitely worth a visit, if not just for inspiration alone.
However, as a final year university student looking to do some sort of volunteering work abroad, I found myself to be of a rare breed. The show was packed with middle-aged couples looking for a cruise or a company tailored holiday. There wasn’t a single volunteering stand! If you’re still in the student mind-set and reluctant to spend vast amounts of money, this is perhaps only the place to “window-shop” your options, as opposed to book anything.