Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Schriever Sentinel

Family vacations can be affordable if you know where to look

Walking through the Garden of the Gods is one of the many things you can do for free or at little cost in Colorado Springs.

Walking through the Garden of the Gods is one of the many things you can do for free or at little cost in Colorado Springs.

By Scott Prater

Schriever Sentinel

Ah summer. The kids have plenty of spare time to waste away the days in carefree fashion. But the yard work never ends, and for most of us, job stress never fades. The sustained sizzle of summer can add to an already stressful life, filled with appointments and to-do lists and responsibilities too numerous to count.

Who couldn’t use a vacation in the midst of all this overwhelming frustration? And besides, by late June the kids have already hit stir-crazy mode.

Yes, a vacation is the answer. Now, if only one could afford it.

“Obviously its expensive to travel right now,” said Christina Ruetz, community readiness consultant here. “But, people can find things to do locally that can save them a lot of money, they just need to know what is out there and available for them to take advantage of.”

As the manager for the personal financial management program at Schriever’s Airman and Family Readiness Center, Ms. Ruetz periodically teaches a class entitled, “How to Travel on a Budget.”

She covers such topics as planning, budgeting, site selection and discount programs. She also informs folks about some of the getaway destinations within a few hours drive of Schriever.

Take Farish Recreation Area for example. It sits roughly 30 miles west of Colorado Springs near the town of Woodland Park and is managed by the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“Farish is a wonderful local resort getaway for military servicemembers and their families,” Ms. Ruetz said. “It’s a recreation area so folks can hike, mountain bike, fish and camp there. People can rent a room in the lodge for as little as $45 a night (room sleeps five) so for $90 you can spend a Friday and Saturday night in a mountain getaway.”

For people who prefer the comforts of home while on the road, the Armed Forces Vacation Club offers resort condominiums in Summit County, Colo. on a space-available basis. By planning ahead, Department of Defense personnel can book a two-bedroom condo for at a weekly rate of $329.

Great deals can also be found through the YMCA.

“A lot of the time, our military members can get vacations for half price,” Ms. Ruetz said. “You just need to visit www.YMCArockies.org. Often their amenities include food, lodging and use of the amenities of the grounds. They have several weekend retreat locations including Estes Park and Snow Mountain Ranch near the Winter Park Ski area.”

But, not all of us are interested in the mountain experience or outdoor activities. Families looking to visit a destination resort can find assistance and information through the Colorado R & R Office at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“They have discounted rates on lodging and activities for the military community in places like Lake Tahoe, Disney World and Vail.” Ms. Ruetz said.

The Peterson Air Force Base Leisure Travel Office also offers assistance for military members looking to travel to destination resorts outside Colorado.

Even with discounts galore and proper planning, the most thrift conscious traveler may still find the prospect of a vacation to be beyond reach, and many folks get blindsided by unexpected expenses during their trips.

Ms. Ruetz recommends people start by figuring out exactly what they can afford to spend well in advance, and even creating a travel savings account where money is set aside every month specifically for the trip.

“From that amount, people need to divide their total planned expenditure into categories like hotel, food, transportation, entertainment and miscellaneous expenses,” she said. “A lot of times you need to be flexible with your dates, but planning ahead gives you the potential of saving the most.”

For more information about Farish Recreation Area visit www.usafaservices.com/orc/farish.htm. People interested in obtaining more information about destination travel can contact The Colorado R & R Office at USAFA at www.coloradorandr.com or call 333-7367, or the Peterson Air Force Base Leisure Travel Office at 556-2116 or www.21svs.com. To find out more about the Armed Forces Vacation club, visit www.afvclub.com.

To sign up for bi-weekly financial management classes, contact the Schriever Airman and Family Readiness Center at 567-3920.

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