Travel Adventure Show & MAL in D.C.

By Jacob Alexander: Man About Town

I’ve always had an odd love for working trade shows. They require an incredible amount of backbreaking work, they’re high energy, and usually after two whole days of standing on your feet and speaking steadily for hours on end, I sometimes don’t even have the energy to make it to dinner or happy hour (and those who know me know that skipping happy hour is no small concession!), but they offer a great way to get out and talk to folks whom you normally wouldn’t get a lot of face time with, and the connections you make can be life changing.

I just got back from the Travel Adventure Show in Washington D.C., it was my first show for HE Travel, but about my 100th overall. Our vice president, Zach Moses, and I spent the entire weekend spreading the good word of group travel for gay men, and it led to some truly interesting results. Even more exciting though, was the lucky coincidence that it was also the Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend in D.C.!

Thousands of beefy men swarmed the D.C. Metro area this weekend to mingle, dance, showcase their style, and to pick a new 2017 Mid-Atlantic Leatherman. Anyone who’s ever seen me knows I don’t quite fit the aesthetic of a leatherman or leatherboy, but I unabashedly love this community!

Often times in various mainstream gay scenes, it’s easy to get caught up in the fight for the perfect male body. Why can’t I look like a mix between Brent Corrigan, Zach Efron, and George Clooney?! But in the leather world, acceptance comes from appreciation and understanding, not outward appearance. Sure, the look is important, but it’s so much more about the community, the appreciation and the respect.

So I was adamant that come Sunday afternoon, when our booth had been packed up at the travel show that I would get myself to at least one MAL event. I found my way to the closing party until the wee hours of the morning. I danced until dawn with some epically beautiful men, I met more fabulous people (and made a few new friends) than I can currently remember, I learned a few new things about leather, and I had an absolutely mind-blowing experience…all with mere minutes to spare this morning to make my flight back to Key West (emphasis on minutes)!

The beautiful thing about travel is that no matter what’s leading you to do it, even the most mundane-seeming trips can change your entire world. Whether you’re touring the capitals of Central Europe or riding bikes across France with HE Travel, or if you’re taking a two hour flight to D.C. for a consumer trade show, you’ll find the moments that matter the most to you anywhere you go.

Who knows, you may find inspiration to change careers after 30 years while touring in Budapest, or you may spark a romance that stays with you your whole life on a weekend work trip in our nation’s capital. But you’ll never know until you get out there and try it!

What are some of the more unexpected results you’ve found while traveling? Leave a comment below and tell us!

Visit to read more of Jacob’s travel articles or to join him on an international gay tour!