CRESTVIEW — Residents don't need to go bankrupt to have fun, memorable vacations, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agent Elaine Courtney said.
By planning a budget, saving for a vacation, checking Internet bargains, vacationing at home or traveling off season, travelers can maximize their vacation for minimal dollars, she said.
Saving toward a trip months in advance can save thousands compared to charging it to a credit card, said Courtney, who works in the Extension's Crestview office.
For instance, the average family's vacation costs $1,600; if charged to a typical credit card, it would take 14 years to pay off making minimum payments, and would cost $3,500 with interest, she said.
Adequate vacation planning also is essential for a stress-free get-away, taking the most advantage of limited vacation days, Courtney said during a March 4 presentation at the Crestview Public Library.
Visiting the library for planning tools such as travel guides and atlases, especially if planning international travel, can help, she said.
Vacationers with limited budgets might consider a vacation at home, also called a "staycation."
"Most of us like to go on vacation, doing and seeing new things, but the dollars are limited," Courtney said. "We want to get the most vacation we can for the least amount of money."
Visiting local museums, free or inexpensive state parks and beaches, attending library or church-organized lectures and activities, and canoeing on local rivers offer cheap, fun daytrips, she said.