As summer begins winding down, many of us are thinking about back to school and cooler weather.

While not the norm, this week I want to challenge ourselves to think about our next vacation. My husband and I have started looking at next year so he can request time off from work.

In marriage, planned getaways are key. The anticipation of the trip excites both of us and the experience connects us. The U.S. Travel Association did a blind phone survey and found couples who travel together rated their marriage higher on every level.

When we plan far enough in advance, we can find some amazing deals. Typically, prices start decreasing in August as school begins and family travel slows down. My husband says I missed my calling as a travel agent. In any event, I want to share a few deals I found.

First is a trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado. If you travel on Tuesday or Wednesday next January or February, you can fly for around $155/person from Killeen. I recommend the Academy Hotel. Their free breakfast buffet is stocked with every breakfast food imaginable as well as an omelette station.

Complete with an indoor pool, fireplace, Keurigs in the rooms, and mountain views, this hotel will not disappoint. The key with this property is to book direct and under the rate reservation tab, pull down the menu to say, “Stay 4, save 15%”.

Their deluxe king room starts at $87/night; therefore, with the four-night stay discount, the total is less than $300. You can find a cheaper rate by downgrading your room; however, the deluxe rooms are updated and nicer.

Also, when you book direct, the Academy Hotel will give you dinner vouchers to use in their Falcon Bar and Grill Restaurant for $10 off a $20 bill. The pizza is amazing and will feed two people for $15. Add a couple drinks and you are over $20.

With your coupon, the total dinner will be less than $15 for two people. Total for two people for four days with airfare is less than $600.

I recommend renting a car. Spend a day and drive to Breckinridge. It’s about 2½ hours away and is a lovely drive down Highway 24. Once there, visit Good Times Adventures for dogsledding and snowmobiling. If you snowmobile, you can ride to the continental divide. Reserve in advance as spots fill up.

Perhaps you are dreaming of postponing summer. If you are dreaming of sandy beaches, I have something for you as well. Next February you can go on a five-day Carnival Cruise out of Galveston. This cruise visits Cozumel and Yucatan, Mexico.

All food and drinks (minus alcohol) is included on your cruise. With everything from burger joints and buffets to main formal dining, there is something for everyone!

There are nightly comedy shows, seminars, game shows and more to keep you entertained around the clock.

The swimming pool and mini golf are also lovely.

After taxes and all fees, your total for two will be just over $800.

This is for the week of Feb. 4-9 in an inside stateroom.

While vacationing and traveling isn’t cheap, by planning ahead, we can find some amazing deals. I believe half of the fun is in the planning.

Until next time, start planning your next vacation!

Kindra Warner is a marriage group facilitator at Grace Christian Center in Killeen and a Herald correspondent.

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