The Los Angeles Travel and Adventure Show is an annual event which takes place early in the year. Three of the seven shows are held in California. Started in 2004, the Travel and Adventure Shows have a mix of exhibitors from around the world and celebrity speakers with some culture-focused entertainment thrown in for good measure. The 2016 Los Angeles show featured seminars followed by meet and greets with Samantha Brown, Pauline Frommer, Peter Greenberg and Rick Steves. Most celebrity speakers appear on both days. On Sunday, February 28, Rick Steves went on first, followed by Pauline Frommer, then Peter Greenberg and finally Samantha Brown.

Rick Steves had an exhibitor booth, where you could buy his book(s) and have them signed after his speech. Like the other time I met him, he took selfies with whoever wanted in addition to signing their merchandise. The whole experience is pretty intense and you should not expect much one on one time. I did manage to recommend a documentary film to him, but had to wait until most of the crowd cleared out.

Pauline Frommer went on next. There’s a 30 minute gap between speakers, which allows time for meet and greets. Rick Steves was still shooting and signing when Pauline Frommer was introduced. Unlike Rick Steves, Pauline Frommer answered questions after her speech, which was filled with practical travel advice. There were different Frommers guidebooks for sale (next to the Rick Steves books). I bought the Israel one at the New York Times Travel Show earlier in the year and had it signed by her father (Arthur Frommer, who was absent from this show) and this time I purchased the Iceland book. Remembering me from the New York show, Pauline singed it to me personally. She continued to answer questions in between signing books, but what stood out the most from her speech was her answer when someone asked her how she gets to do what she does for a living. Her simple answer: “have a father named Arthur Frommer.” Enough said! People like her, Rick Steves and Samantha Brown are the lucky ones. Most of the people attending these shows are not full-time travelers. Events like the Travel and Adventure shows allow those of us who love travel, but can only do it once or twice a year to live vicariously through the lucky ones!

One of my favorite parts of the show was meeting actress, food blogger and podcaster Lynn Chen. What made her speech so interesting was how it focused on the food from one destination only. Taiwanese fast food is tasty, but difficult to find. Although they speak Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan, their food is different from the “Chinese Food” that can be found in just about any town of any size. You have to go looking for Taiwanese food. Pittsburgh has an excellent place (I Tea Cafe) that gets it perfect and of course Flushing, Queens has places, but in general, it’s not easy to find like “Chinese,” hibachi or (more recently) Thai food. The slide show allowed her audience to follow along with her recent journeys. Afterwards, she answered some questions. I was curious as to whether or not there was one thing she refused to try in Taiwan and there was in fact a certain fermented tofu which she would not eat. Her speech got me interested in returning to Taiwan. Besides airport layovers, I only spent two days there (one in Taichung, one in Taipei) as part of a side trip from Hong Kong.

The standard price for admission is $16 (1 day)/$25 (2 days). There are discounts available and I got in for free from Lynn Chen’s Facebook offer. Even if you pay the full price, you are likely to leave with more in handouts than you paid for admission. From the Taiwan booth alone, I walked away with China Airlines pens, Taiwan erasers, a Taiwan pen & notebook as well as a portable USB charger (with “Taiwan” on it of course). Although no other booth handed out that much, there are usually pens, maps, DVDs and even some local snacks there for the taking from most countries represented at the show.

The “Los Angeles” Travel and Adventure show is actually held at the Long Beach Convention Center. If you are (like me) coming from the east coast, it’s difficult to find a direct flight into Long Beach. After my search on Orbitz resulted in fares over $500 with at least one layover, I decided to take advantage of the nearly hourly flights (during the day) from EWR to LAX. Since it’s easier for most people to fly into LAX, it’s also better to stay in Los Angeles. Although California has a long established car culture (as opposed to major cities on the east coast), it is possible to get around greater Los Angeles without a car. I haven’t rented a car in California since 2011. Downtown Los Angeles has plenty of great hotels as well as cultural attractions. Staying near 7th Street/Metro Center will give you access to four metro lines. Taking the blue line from 7th Street/Metro Center to the other end (Downtown Long Beach) is about an hour ride, but costs only $1.75 with a bus connection included within two hours. The convention center is less than a five minute walk. Most of the ride is above ground, so you get to see a lot of the places referenced in early west coast hip hop songs. Anyone who has watched Straight Outta Compton (or even remembers when the album was released) will be familiar with the stops along the way. In addition to the obvious ones like Compton and Long Beach, the blue line stops at Vernon, Slauson and Florence. The Watts Towers have their own stop at 103rd Street and you can see them off in the distance.