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Jan. 9, 2013 5:10 p.m.

In the "blah" cloudy month of January, the capitol city of Columbus, Ohio celebrates travel as it hosts the Great Vacations Travel Expo.
The dates are January 18-20, 2013 and the event is held at Franklin County Veterans Memorial right in the heart of Columbus.
With more than 250 exhibits, there are plenty of exclusive travel deals for the taking. Not to mention free trip giveaways! But the fun does not stop there...as you will find interactive events and experience's that are entertaining, helpful and educational.
If you like travel, and I am sure you do, this is the place to find everything you need to know, but bring your calendar! At The Marketplace travelers will find top travel destinations and you might want to have your available dates handy.
At Paradise Pavilion guest get out of the cold and take a look at tropical destinations.
The Great Outdoors Adventure area takes you outside without leaving the inside! It is a place you can enjoy a rest with water features, a covered bridge and fun activities including wildlife.
Saturday is Kid's Day from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and there will be plenty of events for you to enjoy. The first 200 kids will receive Mickey Mouse ears, there are games like Stump Your Parents, the Radio Disney Cleveland Toad Crew will perform, kids can participate in the stamp your passport activity receiving prizes, hands on activities with Metro Parks, animals and so much more. The day is designed to entertain the younger crowd and provide the best advice for family vacations.
Special guests this year will include, Travel writer, screen star and national Geographic Traveler editor-at-large, Andrew McCarthy who will appear at the EXPO on Jan. 20 at 1 p.m. You have seen him in Weekend at Bernie's, Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo's Fire and Less than Zero. However he has added the title of Travel Journalist and will be on hand to talk about his new memoir and offer his insight into travel. He will also offer tips to combat the fear of traveling.
From “The Facts of Life” TV show, Lisa Whelchel will be on hand at 3 p.m. Saturday. She is best known as Blair Warner on the popular 1980’s show. <>
Whelchel just completed her adventure as a castaway on Survivor: Philippines”. She will share her travel and life experiences with those at the EXPO. Welchel began her acting career at age 13 as a Mouseketeer on “The New Mickey Mouse Club”. She has written multiple books and is working to help other moms refresh and find support through her MomTime Ministries and Personal Mom Coaching. She is an international speaker. Besides speaking at the event she will be on hand to answer questions and sign autographs. <>
Appearing on Friday at 2 p.m. will be Peter Greenberg, “CBS News” Travel Editor and author of the "Travel Detective" series. He will be sharing his travel tips. Greenberg has reported on and explored travel destinations all over the world. He hosts the “Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio” show, which broadcasts from a different location around the world each week. His most recent book, “The Best Places for Everything”, reveals the best places in the world to find life-changing experiences.<>
The Franklin County Veterans Memorial is located at 300 West Broad Street. You will find fun for everyone in the family and everything you need for travel. <>
Hours Friday are 12 p.m. - 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tickets are available at the door or at any AAA Ohio Auto Club store for $9. AAA members who show their AAA card will save $3 on admission. Children ages 16 and under are admitted at no charge. If you would like more information or purchase your tickets in advance visit www.AAAGreatVacations.com.

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