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Don't Be Intimidated: Navigate an Auto Show Like a Pro

Whether you’re heading to a massive showroom or an outdoor classic car event, keep these tips in mind

Rows of cars and spectators at auto show

Entering an auto show can be daunting—even if it’s not your first time. Massive stages at every turn, huge crowds and more lights than a major city highway can make you feel a little uncertain about how to proceed. Fear not! Here are a few helpful tips that will allow you to enjoy the show as though you’ve been doing it for years.

Figure Out How You’re Getting There

Yes, this sounds quite elementary, but it will make a big difference to your auto-show experience. Are you attending a big international event in a major city? If so, you may want to consider public transit—as counterintuitive as that may sound on your way to look at the latest and greatest vehicles. You don’t want to be circling (and circling) city blocks to find parking. Waltz on and off transit unencumbered by parking, paying and exiting alongside hundreds of other cars coming and going from the show.

Decide What You Want to See

For many, auto shows are a great way to research their next vehicle purchase. Often you’ll find nearly every new car on the market—or at least the major nameplates and new brands—with representatives from each automaker on the floor to assist with any questions. If this describes you, then ignore all the glitz and glamour and head straight to the automakers you want to research further. It’s very easy to get distracted from your main goal, with giveaways and contests galore standing in your path.

Make a Day of It

It’s no surprise major auto shows get most of their traffic during the weekends. If you’re able, take a day off from work and head down during the week. You won’t have to deal with big crowds and will be able to peruse at your leisure. Even better, bring your kids with you to the show—where they can practise their research and photography skills—for a fun family day away from work and school.

Schedule More Time Than You Need

This applies to both major auto shows and smaller shows that focus only on classic cars. Giving yourself more time allows you to see everything at the former, and provides quality time at the latter. Either way, you will likely need at least an hour more than you estimate.

There’s an App for That

Many auto shows are releasing custom apps that provide a map of the show, a schedule for any special speakers, contest opportunities and a lot more. If the show you’re attending doesn’t have an app, take a look at the site map on their website and pick up a program when you enter.

If classic cars are more your speed, check out our tips to tackling auto auctions with confidence.