The folks at our Gateway Council of Hostelling International-American Youth Hostels are bound and determined to show you how inexpensively you can become an experienced globetrotter. Would-be travelers unfamiliar with the world of hostels, Eurailpasses and the latest in "sleepsacks" should head directly to International Travel Day Expo, a smorgasbord of info about visiting foreign lands on the cheap.
"The point of the International Travel Expo is to make people aware that they can still travel on a budget," says event coordinator Mari Askew. "They don't have to stay at expensive hotels and take all-inclusive trips to have a good time."
Booths staffed by representatives from Webster University (which has a gazillion campuses all over the globe), the Alpine Shop, the Walking Co., Logan College, the U.S. Army, Amtrak, the Travel Den bookstore, a whole bunch of foreign countries and, of course, HI-AYH will line Webster's Student Center.
Workshops on budget travel, travel documents, packing, destinations, using trains abroad, women traveling solo, the Peace Corps and myriad destinations will fill the morning and afternoon. A physician will speak on health-and-safety concerns while traveling. Another workshop will provide info on the best Web sites to visit to prepare for your trip. Experienced hostellers will be on hand to advise on everything from avoiding the water to avoiding Peru's Shining Path guerrillas.
If money is burning a hole in your pocket, check out the international marketplace of vendors and the Indian, Native American and Argentinean kitchens. Airline tickets will be raffled off, as well as a travel kit that includes luggage, books and an HI-AYH membership. A silent auction will feature more airline tickets and books, in addition to Eurailpasses.
Do not attempt to resist swaying to the exotic sounds and gyrations of the Okinawan Dancers, Peña Flamenca, Desert Moon and the St. Louis Greek Dancers.
"We're trying to teach people how to be a traveler and not a tourist," says Askew. "Most people who are traveling in hostels are more adventurous types of people. We'll have speakers talking about how to avoid tourist traps, how to avoid looking like a tourist so you don't get robbed and how to pack everything in a backpack."