Now that your leave chit is approved, you’re ready for vacation.
But have you taken advantage of military vacation deals?
If you have a family, then you know the logistics of planning a family vacation can be somewhat similar to a military operation. And, if you’re one who loves a good military vacation deal, you’ll save the most money if you plan ahead.
Whether you’re looking for a short staycation or a week-long getaway, there are always plenty of military vacation deals for families of all sizes.
Here we share some of the best ways to save money with military vacation deals, discounts, and more.
Planning Out Your Flights
You have to get there somehow, right? If driving isn’t an option for your vacation, flying is the next best thing. One of the biggest perks of being active duty military is you usually get multiple bags to fly free so you don’t have to worry about baggage fees. Plus, some airlines offer a discount as long as you can verify your active duty status.
Here are a few flight options to consider:
Space-A Travel – Space A stands for “Space Available” and is a great way to go on last-minute adventures. You get free or low-cost flights on military aircraft. This option is better when dates and destinations are flexible. It’s definitely the best military vacation deal when it comes to traveling by sky.
Individual airlines – Many airlines offer military discounts or free perks like a free checked bag. And you probably know bags always fly free with Southwest!
You’ll need to check with individual airlines but here are a few that offer military deals:
Travel planning tip: Flights get more expensive the closer you get to your travel date. While it’s tough to book when you’re waiting for leave chit approval, consider booking flights sooner rather than later. You can always pay an upcharge for your ticket to change it or get a refund, if necessary. It may save you more money to do it that way than wait to pay for a pricey last-minute flight.
Military Resorts and Lodging
When you go on vacation, one of the best parts of it is selecting unique accommodation opportunities. Thanks to your active duty military status, you get access to lodging in a variety of locations worldwide at a steep discount. Since these military resorts are often only for military families, you also get the opportunity to meet people who are a lot like your own family.
But, know that the secret is out: Military resorts are the best place to take your family for a relaxed, easy vacation option. Because travel lovers in the military know this, military resorts tend to fill up fast, so plan far in advance.
Some military resorts to consider:
- Shades of Green Resort in Orlando, Florida, near Disney World
- Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area in North Carolina
- United States Coast Guard Lodging (various states)
- Seward Resort in Alaska
- Big Bear Recreation Facility in Southern California
- Kilauea Camp and Hale Koa Hotel in Hawaii
- Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Germany
- New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo, Japan
- Okuma Joint Services Recreation Center in Japan
- Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul, South Korea
Travel planning tip: Can’t stay in a military lodge at your destination? Most big-chain hotels also offer a military discount, too. If you have a bigger family and need to spread out more, Airbnb lodging can be an affordable and unique option, too!
Theme Park Discounts
What kid doesn’t want to go to see Mickey Mouse?
If heading to a major theme park is on your family’s bucket list, there’s no better time to go than when you can get a great discount. Most big theme parks will provide promotional tickets to military members and their families.
Parks to explore:
- Disney World
- Cedar Point
- Busch Gardens and SeaWorld
- Big Surf Waterpark
- Colonial Williamsburg
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- Universal Studios Orlando
- Wild River Country
- Worlds of Fun
- Knott’s Berry Farm
- LEGOLAND Florida
- LEGOLAND California
- Pacific Park
- Stone Mountain Park
Travel planning tip: This list isn’t exhaustive, so it’s smart to call ahead of time to your preferred park to see what specials they may have. Check with your Morale, Welfare and Recreation office to see what type of theme park tickets and local attractions you can score at heavily-discounted prices.
Vacation Deals + Travel Sites
It’s always a good idea to shop around when it comes to booking your family vacation. Look for deals on travel sites catered to military members. These were built with military families in mind, including affordable options to enjoy extended vacations.
A few sites to check out:
Armed Forces Vacation Club – This free membership site allows you to search for vacation deals for all-inclusive resorts worldwide.
On-Base Resources – Check with your local MWR and Air Force Information and Travel offices for discounts and help with travel planning.
Travel planning tip: Each branch has its own vacation savings opportunities for service members and their families: Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Marine Corps Community Services, Navy Gateway Inns and Suites, and Air Force Services.
More Money-Saving Tips for Military Family Vacations
The more greenbacks you can save on the front-end of your travel (AKA the getting there part), the more cash you’ll have to spend at your destination.
There are tons of ways to save money while traveling if you’re creative enough. No need to pull that credit card out at every stop!
Here are a few tried-and-true favorite money-savers:
- Plan a staycation – Explore the area you live in. If you’re nearby another base, check out their lodging availability and on-base attractions for a short weekend getaway.
- Head to the beach – Check out these four beach destinations you won’t want to miss this summer. Three are in close proximity to military bases.
- Camping – Not afraid of a little dirt? Head to a local camping site for an inexpensive family trip that is guaranteed to create lasting memories.
- Go (national) park-hopping – Current U.S. military and dependents can get a free annual pass to our national parks. See how many you can check off your list!
- Fly mid-week when you can – Tickets are usually cheaper than on the weekends.
- Eat-in- Get a room with a kitchen and cook meals in. It’s cheaper than eating out!
- Enjoy your lunch – When you do eat out, make your big meal lunch. Mid-afternoon menus are typically less expensive than dinners.
We hope you’re excited to plan your upcoming family vacation. Whether it’s a long weekend, spring break, or summer, take the time to make lasting memories as a family.
Even if you’re PCSing, you can make a fun trip out of it with mini-vacation stops along the way to your new duty station. It may not be the traditional way to take a vacation, but it sure beats no vacation at all!
Feature image courtesy of Unsplash