Raise your hand if you’ve been bitten by the travel bug this summer? I love traveling with my husband; it’s great quality time and we often travel together shortly after deployment to reconnect. But planning any sort of trip as a military family can be a bit tricky, whether it’s coordinating leave schedules or traveling at odd times of the year. Sometimes I think about using a company like NetJets to make it easier for us to travel to places, but I worry that with my husband being in the military, we wouldn’t use it as much as we like. Nevertheless, we still have some great vacations together. Even with the added logistical issues, there are some vacation tips for military families that make traveling easier and a lot more fun!
Vacation Tips for Military Families
Consider booking trips during the offseason.
Everyone in the world wants to travel during the summer and I get it. People want to go visit places like Manhattan and stay in somewhere like the Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan hotel. But sometimes military life gets in the way of family summer vacations: deployments, TDY or a PCS can totally derail a traditional vacation. So it’s time to get creative with when you go on vacation.
I genuinely enjoy traveling to places during the offseason for a few different reasons. It’s usually a bit cheaper and places aren’t nearly as crowded. When we traveled to Ireland, even the most popular tourist destinations were fairly empty, giving us more time to explore at our own pace (and fewer strangers in the background of our pictures). We ate at whatever restaurant we wanted and never had to wait in line. To be fair, when you travel during the offseason, some places may be closed or under renovations; two things we’ve run into, but more often than not, everything is still operational.
Traveling during the offseason gives military families more flexibility when it comes to vacation. If you’re open to different times of the year, you can work around almost any work schedule and fit leave in during a convenient time.
Always ask about military discounts, but look for other discounts too!
Military discounts are wonderful, but they aren’t the only game in town. Coupon codes, sales and discount travel sites may give you a better deal than a military discount would. For example, my husband and I have gone on quite a few “dream” vacations that would have been just that without the help of discount sites. We’ve used Groupon and Living Social to go to London, Rome, Barcelona and Ireland. Those trips were wonderful, with lodging, airfare, transportation and a few adventures included, and we were able to afford them solely because they were so heavily discounted. Taken advantage of coupons and offers can really help bring down the cost of a vacation. In fact, we’ve been considering looking at some fly cruise offers online to see if we could visit some new places at an even lower price.
Oftentimes hotels have deals with popular tourist destinations that will give you a discount or package a few attractions together at a lower rate. Additionally, hotels may be able to help you skip lines or book tours that are usually fairly crowded.
Be a tourist in your own town.
One of the good things about moving frequently as a military family is that there is always a new place to explore! Not every vacation needs to involve hours of travel – you can play tourist right in your town. Try new restaurants, visit local parks, check out a Blue Star Museum and ask for recommendations from new neighbors on what to see/eat/do. The beauty of this kind of vacation is that you can have it whenever you want! A long weekend or even just an afternoon can offer quite a bit of quality family time and a little mini family vacation.
Take advantage of unique military partnerships or features.
As difficult as the military may make it sometimes to fit in a vacation, there are some military perks that can help with your travel plans. For example, Space A travel may help you get you to your destination, depending on the timing and where you’d like to go. Definitely check out military hotels and resorts as a lodging option; this website has a great breakdown of the different options.
Plan for changes to your plan.
If there’s one thing military life has taught me, it’s that plans change, quickly and without much warning. No matter how much work you put into planning your vacation, it could quickly fall apart if orders are changed or a surprise deployment pops up. Spend the extra money to get the travel insurance so that you can reschedule or recoup some of the money you spent if you have to cancel the trip.
These vacation tips for military families can help save money and stress when planning quality time together. Whether you’re exploring a new country or simply trying a new restaurant in your town, military families should always seek to create new memories together.
What’s your favorite vacation tip for military families?