AAA Travel Marketplace

Every year I read about the AAA Travel Marketplace. It’s touted as THE Travel event of the year. According to it’s advertisements you should come prepared to book your trip as there will be deep discounts and show specials.

Like most shows it always falls on a weekend and like most shows, I end up missing it because of my work schedule but this year I decided to take a day off and check it out. There were a couple of reasons for my decision. One was that I am writing this travel blog and I felt I should be able to offer some comments on the show and the second reason was that I wanted information on Alaska Cruises since that’s the goal for 2012.

I went on Friday because it was easier to get a Friday off work than an Saturday or Sunday. That meant that I missed the public appearance of Wally the Red Sox mascot and the rep from the TSA who was going to speak about the controversial airport screening policy., both things I would have liked to see/hear. Oh well…in a perfect world J Let’s face it, we can’t have everything even if we want to and life is all about choices.

The show opened on Friday at 2pm and was at the Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. I headed over to arrive around 3pm. I pulled up to the Fidelity entrance as indicated on my ticket but the doors were locked. While I looked around several other cars pulled up and soon there was quite a crowd milling around. About the time I was pulling out my cell to call AAA someone else got the same idea. He got through first and informed us that that we had to go to the other side of the stadium complex and enter there. We all loaded back into our cars and caravanned around the complex.

When we got to the other side we saw the parking attendants and signs…AAA parking.

Even so close to opening time the lots were filling up fast. Looking at the number of cars and the distance I was from the doors I chose to lock the DSLR in the trunk and just take the point and shoot. I felt it would be easier to carry and less conspicuous in a crowd.

It was a good choice.

One inside I was directed up the escalator to the 2nd floor. As soon as I walked in I was in Canada land. There were booths for Quebec, New Foundland, Nova Scotia, Montréal, Bay of Fundy and on and on. I was cornered briefly by one of the Canadian reps… bonjour, Com on sa va etc then with brochures and bags I continued on past Ireland, Costa Rica, Bahamas. My head was starting to spin!

Then the crowds began to thin out. There was a large area with desks and computers marked “Reservations” . Apparently this was where you could whip out your checkbook or credit card and take advantage of all the show specials. I gave that area a wide berth. I only wanted information.

And then I saw the Cruise booths. There was Princess, Disney, Linblad ( Nat Geo’s cruise line of choice), Holland America, and more. I started asking about Alaska at the first booth and was immediately told they were all booked up. I moved on to the next and was also told to try again another time…no specials here. When I reached the Holland America booth the rep was more gracious. She gave me brochures and explained how they set up their cruises and excursions. She said they run the most trips to Alaska so very seldom sell out early. She also told me to go to the web site and if I had questions just to call and they would help. She said it was not to0 early to reserve a cruise in 2012. She said a small deposit holds the reservation. Then she looked around and said “You can go though AAA travel agents, but they will charge you a fee”. That is the same thing my friend Julie told me too.

With my cruise information collected and enough reading material for at least a month, I just wandered around the rest of the show. I’ll tell you a little about that in my next post.

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