If the trend of last year's Adventures in Travel Expo was eco-conscious vacationing, this year's is a no-brainer: economy travel.
Dedicated travelers are not giving up their vacations in this slumping economy, but they are trying to make them more affordable, said John Golicz, chief executive officer of Unicomm, a trade-show company co-sponsoring next weekend's event at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Rd., Rosemont.
"The difference this year is value," Golicz said. "People are planning a lot more carefully. They can't make a mistake."
About a third of travelers recently surveyed by Unicomm said they plan to stay closer to home in 2009 or will visit somewhere where the dollar goes farther, Golicz said.
If you are still undecided about where to go, the answer could be awaiting at next weekend's expo, also sponsored by the Chicago Tribune.
The two-day event, in its fifth year, will include more than 150 exhibitors.
The expo focuses on adventure travel, which Golicz described as having two of three components: experiencing nature, physical activity and a "significant" cultural interaction.
"It can be a lot of things, like elderly people who want to bird-watch in the rain forest and learn about the indigenous culture," he said. "It's getting off the beach and out a little bit."
And if you're captivated with, say, Kentucky or Puerto Rico, you can book a trip right there on the convention floor.
To get you in the mood, the expo also will offer rides on Chester the camel (yes, a real camel), scuba lessons in a water tank and a trip up a climbing wall.
There will be several seminars and guest speakers, including Andrew Zimmern, host of the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern," on Saturday and Patricia Schultz, author of "1,000 Places to See Before You Die," on Sunday.
Golicz insisted that vacations at the expo can be found for all budgets.
"You can stretch your dollar a long way," he said.
Tickets for the Adventures in Travel Expo cost $15 and are available at www.adventureexpo.com.
No adventure would be complete without meeting Chicago Tribune Travel editor Ross Werland, who will be in the Tribune booth at the show from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
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