By Emily Brainard, Army Flier StaffMarch 19, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Sweethearts planned honeymoons and Families scheduled cross-country vacations during a one-stop shopping experience at the 22nd annual Travel Extravaganza March 10.
Forty-eight vendors filled The Landing, offering 1,078 Soldiers and Families steep discounts on this year's travel plans.
"It was one of the best travel shows we've had in a long time," said Kristen Hartwell, Leisure Travel Services business manager. "It offered great deals for people to see what's new in the travel industry. (People) said they figured out how they're going to book their summer vacations because of what they found at the travel show."
Newlyweds 1st Lt. Parker and Mieka Vanschoick perused cruise options last week in hopes of booking their honeymoon after getting married earlier this year. The couple said working with Leisure Travel Services staff and vendors made planning a breeze.
"They do a lot of the work for you," Parker said.
Noting they only have a few weeks to establish vacation plans and travel, Mieka said the travel specialists made "it easier and have quick service."
Heidi Williams, whose husband serves in the Vermont National Guard, said she wants to take her children to Orlando, Fla., before returning to their northern home in a few months and when he deploys. Discounted ticket prices allowed the Family to schedule a first trip to Universal Studios.
"This is a good opportunity for us. It's an awesome deal. We couldn't do it without it," Williams said.
Having served in the Navy himself, Aaron Paulk, a business development manager for Sandals resort, said offering military members affordable vacation deals is important.
"They give so much to us. They allow us to be relaxed and enjoy freedoms. It's nice to give them relaxation and those freedoms too," he said.
Rest is a priority for 1st Lt. Jennifer Peebles, a D Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment flight school student. She hopes to travel to Walt Disney World for the first time before her AH-64D Apache course begins in May.
Peebles attended the extravaganza with her friend 1st Lt. Janeene Yarber, 1st Aviation Brigade assistant personnel officer.
Yarber said she is separating from the military soon and wants to go on a cruise to treat herself after years of hard work and "to be with Family."
Seasoned Soldiers recommended the posts' student population should take advantage of their training time here while they have a break from other installations with higher operational tempos.
Sgt. 1st Class James Montez, B Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment writing developer, said he and his wife, Elizabeth, are planning fun Family stops along their route while driving to their next duty station in Alaska this summer.
"Relax. Take advantage of Fort Rucker. This is the place to spend time with the Family," he said.
For more information about Leisure Travel Services' specials, visit www.ftruckermwr.com/LeisureTravel/index.htm, call 255-9517 or stop by the Bldg. 5700, first floor south office.