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Where to Learn About Several Rail Adventures in One Day:

LA Travel & Adventure Show and LA Times Travel Show

(Links to each at the end of this Report)

Report and Photos by Carl Morrison,
  Please e-mail me if you found this article useful.

Each winter, usually in January and February, there are two Travel Shows in the LA Area.  They are the Travel & Adventure Show, which takes place in about 5 different cities a year, and the Los Angeles Times Travel Show.  This year, with a conflict with one of the shows, I only attended the Travel & Adventure Show held at the Long Beach Convention Center on January 12, 2013.

Tourist Railroads, as well as Amtrak, are exhibitors at both shows, so with a little pre-show study of the exhibitors list in the Press Section of their Internet Site, you can plan your day and visit all the railroad booths in attendance.  I suggest visiting the railroads' booths at a show rather than just going to their Internet site, because they may hand you two-for-one coupons or other perks to entice you to visit their railroad.  Additionally, they will have information on other attractions near their railroad as well as suggested accommodations and restaurants nearby. 

Private Rail Cars were not represented in Long Beach, but I know that plans to be at the Los Angeles Times Travel Show educating the traveling public about their various trips where their cars are connected behind full-speed Amtrak long distance trains.  Their private cars are the only way to experience vintage rail cars upgraded to run at the fastest speeds in America. can put together a group of their cars to take passengers on long trips around the United States.  They have sleeping cars, lounge cars, dome cars, diners, so your entire trip will be aboard vintage railcars with excursions in stop-over cities. has local same-day trips such as their Vino Train which is a round trip from LA to Santa Barbara on Saturdays with time in Santa Barbara to walk to many Santa Barbara wine tasting venues near the Amtrak Station. 

Another goal for attending Travel Shows is to search for Hotels, Restaurants, and other Attractions in a town you plan to travel to on Amtrak.  For instance, I had in mind the Amtrak stops of San Diego, Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and Flagstaff and found information about each of those destination cities at the show.  I further found Tourist Railroads in towns where I might drive to in the future.  In my estimation, there were more Tourist Railroads represented at the Travel Show this year than in any previous year.

Finally, I was able to get reacquainted with the helpful marketing people representing trains I have ridden and reported on in the past.  Talking with these folks helped me learn what is new at their railroad, letting me know if I should revisit them to do a new report on their railroad.  (I have over 100 Rail Travelogues online which you can read at your leisure:

At the end of this report, I will mention photographer Ralph Velasco and a way for you to get a free ticket to other Travel & Adventure shows this year in other cities.

These shows welcome pre-registered members of the Travel Press.  Upon arrival at the Convention Center, locate the Press Room and receive your PRESS Pass, then enjoy coffee and pastries.  Return here during the day to relax and reorganize if you like.

The view of the Long Beach Convention floor before the attendees were admitted at 10 a.m.  Photo taken from the Press Room.

I recognized the Mana Kai Maui representative's brochure.  Their beach is where I walk each day when we are staying across the street at Maui Hill each June.  So, it was like talking to a neighbor.  We usually have our anniversary dinner in the Five Palms at the Mana Kai Maui.

10:45am - 11:45am
Pauline Frommer
Travel Writer, Frommer's Travel Guides and Creator of Pauline Frommer guidebooks
What You Need To Know Before You Plan Your Next Vacation

Besides looking for future rail adventures at the Travel Shows, I enjoy very much listening to the speakers.  The largest theater at the show will be devoted to these speakers.  They present all day long, with slides on a very large screen, for one-hour each with 15 minute breaks between.  Another theater is devoted to lesser-know speakers with 1/2 hr. presentations; another theater for performances by musical and dance groups from various countries represented at the show, and a fourth theater devoted to Cooking Demonstrations.

Pauline Frommer, after some introductory remarks, started her presentation:
What You Need To Know Before You Plan Your Next Vacation

When Ms. Frommer began, she mentioned that she no longer brings handouts to presentations like this.  Instead, since she worked on this presentation up to the previous evening, she suggests that the audience simply "pull out your cell phones and take a photo of the slides".  With my digital DSLR, I was able to set a high ISO and zoom in on the screens and capture her slides.  Below each slide I will put some additional notes I wrote down 'the old fashioned way' in my reporter's notebook.

Ms. Frommer suggests Individualized Day-Long Experiences and Small Group Adventure Tours because they are less expensive than standard tours.  Adventure Center is in Emeryville, California.  She calls tours by train,  Land Tours.  Palace Tours  is a Train tour of Spanish Palaces.  Not including Air fare, 7 nights including all meals and tours $693 - $800+.

You probably realize that hotel rates are going up and in 2012 the average room was $106, PLUS many fees.

Ms. Frommer suggests Renting a place instead of staying at hotels.  She gave an example of her family going to Disney World and renting an apartment outside the park instead of staying at a Disney Resort.  I like the looks of "Monasteries" as an inexpensive place to stay on a trip.  Veterans can stay at Military Hotels for less than the general public.

Mrs. Frommer predicts that air fares are going to rise and become 'customized'.  This means making air reservations through the airlines instead of Kayak and Expedia, etc.  Airlines want to get more info. from you to use in offers.  There will be different classes of economy fares.  She suggests that air/hotel packages may be the best price.  She suggests booking 6 weeks in advance for the cheapest fares, not 360 days in advance.  Use a travel agent who deals with your destination country for the best air fares.  Search those travel agents at  SeatGuru will tell you if paying more for a seat is worth it.  Use Twitter to check for 2 to 3 hour specials.

Always book a cruise through a travel agent because they have been given perks they can pass on to you.  Compare deals at Cruise  Inside cabins have an advantage, over being cheaper, they are more stable.  If you fear a possible rough ride this might be a solution.  Watch additional costs on a cruise, the average is 25% more than the cost of the cruise, 75% more if you visit the spa and casino.  Shore excursions add cost as well so check at Cruising  A Mendenhall Glacier Tour costs $50 and you hear the Ranger talk, but a bus goes there for $1. 

Think About Going To...

Her next segment was about two countries you should think about going to.  First Poland.  It has the largest brick castle in the world.  Even though Hitler destroyed 93% of Warsaw, it looks great today with many saved art treasures. 

Also think about going to Guatemala.  They have week-long religious celebrations.  The largest hand-made article market in Central America is held twice a week.

This was her last slide.  It is of a couple of guys that were with her group in Guatemala.  They have just roasted marshmallows over a volcano!

I took a break and walked among the booths looking for Tourist Railroads who were in attendance.  I did not take photographs of their exhibits, but did pick up information about their operation.  Here are some other sights I saw at the Travel Show:

I liked their Logo and Saying.

It was the music that drew me to this stage.  We used to live across the street from a drummer who held belly dancing classes in his home.  He said there is a certain size of dancer that is best.  I think this dancer would have been satisfactory in his eyes.

I see a future adventure photographer here!

This tee shirt in a Pismo Beach's booth reminded me that there is an Amtrak stop there.  Perhaps a future Amtrak Destination report.

The final speaker I heard was
Peter Greenberg.

My parking permit was about to run out, so I could only listen to Mr. Greenberg for about 20 minutes.  His image on the large screen and in the program must have been taken some years ago, as you will see below.  His demeanor was, I'm going to shout at you until you believe what I say.  He even commented that he was going to make the audience mad about some trends in the travel business.

1:15pm - 2:15pm
Peter Greenberg
Emmy Award Winning Investigative Travel Journalist, CBS News
The Best Places for Everything and How to Get the Best Experience

He never changed the image on the screen...he had no slides.

He made a good point about the number of airlines in the US now being only 3.  With all flights full and cities having been eliminated from service, prices will be rising.  Fees are going up as well, which Mrs. Frommer had mentioned earlier in the day.  Fees collected by airlines were $22 billion in 2011, $36 billion in 2012.

Which cities are served is not decided by US travelers, but by the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, Indian, China. are the countries whose people are spending most of the dollars on air travel in and out of those countries.  So, airlines set prices for those countries and the cities in the US that they go to.

He had opinions about Air Miles also.  Fifty-four percent of the miles are earned on land purchases, not air miles purchases.  Air Miles are advertised saying that you can get a flight for 25,000 miles, but that is seldom possible.  Calculating how much you spend to earn enough miles to get to your destination is frightening, if you spend money just for miles.

Don't use the Internet for air reservations, call because they have a bigger inventory (more seats available).

The big growth area in under 400-miles trips is buses.

Greenberg is a Big Train Lover.  He says Amtrak is terrible at marketing.  He says their greatest product is the 15-Day Pass.  (I wonder if he knows it is coach only.  It is hard to take a long Amtrak trip without an overnight train.  I did read an article where some college students did it, but they even got tired of sleeping in coach on their trip during an Easter Break.

Air tips:  choose alternative airports, routes, and days for the best fare.

To use your mileage:  1.  Have your accommodations already reserved.  2.  Ship your bags ahead of time FedEx or UPS.  3.  Call and get a seat on the first flight in the day (some future date if necessary)  4.  With the correct airlines and the correct flight number, call and change the date to the day you want to go.  If no seats, have them put you on the standby list.  If you do not make the flight, have them put you on the standby on the second flight.  You'll get there on that day.  (Hmmm, I wouldn't try this, but I wonder if shipping your bags is cheaper than the airlines charges.)

Ralph Velasco On Travel Photography:  101 Tips eBook

In my Internet research for this report on the Travel & Adventure Show, I found that Ralph Velasco, a photographer from Newport Beach, California, would be at the show for Canon cameras in the Calumet Camera Booth, as he was last year.  Furthermore, on his website, I found that he has a new book out called:  Ralph Velasco On Travel Photography:  101 Tips eBook.  (He also has a print copy for sale, but says he does not plan to do print copies any more, just eBooks.)  I purchased the eBook, for $4.99, and enjoyed part of it before the conference, and will enjoy the rest of it on my iPad in the future.  Finally, I found at his site,, a code for free admission:  "use discount code “SPK” for FREE tickets to the show!"  If he is also speaking at the show in your city, see if this still works.

The Tourist Railroads and Rail-Related Hotels and Attractions I made contact with at the Travel Show:

Alaska Railroad - 1-800-544-0552
    Press Contact:  Ruth Rosewarne Kimerer
    Shoulder Season:  Last half of May, First half of September.

Amtrak California
- - 1-800-USA-Rail -
    National Timetable

Comfort Inn Flagstaff - Flagstaff, Arizona an Amtrak Stop
    Press Contact:  Margo Christensen  Prescott, AZ, as well

Georgetown Loop Railroad -  Colorado 1-888-456-6777 
    Press Contact:
    Buy one get one ticket free on any train
    Suggested Hotels nearby: 
        Hotel Chateau Chamonix - 1-888-569-1109
        Historic St. James -
         Silver Queen Bed & Breakfast -  303-569.3511

Oxnard, California - An Amtrak Stop  800-269-6273
Courtyard By Marriott Oxnard - Shuttle from Train Station - 805-988-3600
       Mullin Automotive Museum -
            Classic French touring automobiles and grand prix race cars.805-385-5400

Road Scholar - Created by Elderhostel, Inc. They work with VIA Rail, Rocky Mountaineer and others.  Search "train treks" and "rail" on their website.

The Sophia Hotel - San Diego, California, an Amtrak stop.  619.234.9200 
    Press Contact:  Amy Ragsdale
    Hotel Fifty - Portland, Oregon, an Amtrak stop. 
    Pepper Tree Inn - Santa Barbara, California, an Amtrak stop.

San Luis Obispo Wine Country - An Amtrak stop.  805-541.5868
    Press Contact:  Pismo Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau  805-773-7034
    My 2011 Rail Travelogue on San Luis Obispo, Solvang, Santa Barbara, and Ventura, California at:    

Verde Canyon Railroad
-  Clarksdale, Ariaona 800-293-7245
    My 2011 Report on the Railroad and Western Show at:
    New:  Rhythm on the Rails and Hawks under the SOB bridge.  Bald Eagles still in residence.
    Press Contact:  Teresa A. Propeck
    Blazin' M Ranch
- Chuckwagon Supper and Western Stage Show near the Verde Canyon Railroad 800-937-8643

V&T Railroad - Virginia & Truckee Railway  877-724-5007  Carson City - Virginia City, Nevada 
    Press Contacts:,,


Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show - Dallas, Los Angeles (Long Beach), Chicago, Santa Clara, and Washington D.C.  From this Page Pick the City where you would like to Attend.  I attended the Los Angeles Show.

Los Angeles Times Travel Show - L.A. Convention Center