There is no denying that military life isn’t always easy, let alone planning a vacation between deployments, permanent change of stations, school or regular life. However, here are more than two dozen exclusive-to-military travel discounts that will make the next holiday easier on the wallet and ultimately more enjoyable.
Planes, trains and cars
1. Airfare discounts
Many airlines offer discounts to military service people and their families that may be significantly less that publicly posted fares. Unlike Government Fares, Military Fares are set aside by airlines, like Delta, United, JetBlue and Southwest, for military personnel on leave. To take advantage of the rates, call the airlines directly to inquire about a discount.
Space-A, Military Hops, or whatever one’s preferred term is, this travel opportunity is monetarily free (or mostly). While it is not a reliable means of travel, for those with a flexible timeline and are good at strategically planning multiple backup plans, this is something military families should take advantage of.
The travel booking website advertises that military families can save up to $50 off its own service fees by using promo code: MILITARY40. The discount is set to expire on June 30, 2019, though, so take advantage of it soon. Plus, if anything prevents the trip from happening as planned, CheapOair will discount military families 100 percent of its cancellation, refund or ticket change service fees.
4. Baggage fee discounts
Most airlines will waive or discount baggage fees for military families, although each has its own unique policy. For instance, Delta and American Airlines will waive fees for up to three bags for active duty on personal travel or up to five bags if on official orders. After booking a flight, check the airline’s rules for checked luggage.
5. Travel perks through American Express Platinum
As a response to the US Congress passing the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act in 2003, American Express now waives its annual fees on its credit cards. This means that, for free, military families have access to its Platinum credit card. The premium card gives access to travel perks like concierge booking services, five times the points for booking through it for flights, worldwide airport lounge access, a $200 airline fee allowance, and a reimbursement for the TSA Precheck fee. Apply for the credit card and be sure to request its service member benefits.
This new travel booking website is the co-brainchild of Priceline and the Department of Defense, in an effort to provide an easy platform where military families can easily access unique rates on hotels, air fare, rental cars, vacation packages, and cruises.
7. Amtrak rail discounts
Military families are eligible for a 10 percent discount on the lowest available fares, and military children up to 12 years old are eligible to receive a 10 percent discount on top of the standard children’s 50 percent discount. Be aware that the discounts do have some limitations.
8. Greyhound fare discounts
Active and retired military service members and their families receive 10 percent off full-price tickets when purchased at the station.
9. USAA car rental discounts
USAA touts that it can save people up to 25 percent on car rentals, or even up to 35 percent if the car is paid for in advance. Plus, fees for additional drivers are waived. Not to mention that USAA automatically covers the rental damage liability coverage over $5,000, should an accident occur.
10. Sandals and Beaches Resorts discounts
The all-inclusive resort company offers a year-round 10 percent discount that is added to any existing promotional rate for all military personnel.
11. On-post lodging
Department of Defense lodging provides hundreds of places to stay around the world, sometimes in basic accommodations and in other beachside condominiums, all for military-only guests and at genuine deals. For the next vacation, it could be worth seeing if there is a lodge and availability at the destination on www.DODLodging.net.
12. Armed Forces Vacation Club membership
Wyndham Worldwide Corporation offers a free membership program to military families that gives them the opportunity to stay at condominium-style timeshares around the world for prices as low as $349 per week, without having to attend timeshare presentations. Apply for the program at https://www.afvclub.com/.
13. Prestigious military clubs around the world
For a nominal membership fee, military families can gain access to Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel in San Francisco only a few blocks from the Golden Gate Bridge. Lodging prices are incomparable to the civilian hotels especially considering the location and luxury. Reciprocal clubs around the world include the Victory Services Club in London and New York Athletic Club on Central Park.
14. Free lodging through Vacation for Vets
In Honor of Our Troops Foundation, a nonprofit organization, offers free weeklong vacation accommodations for active duty service members once a year. Locations range around the U.S. Restrictions about how far in advance to apply and no guarantee on availability might be a deterrent, but the price is only a minimal processing fee if the application is approved. Visit https://www.ihoot.org for more information or to see what other discounted accommodations it provides.
15. Free and discounted campsites
Fees at various campgrounds across the nation are eligible to be waived or discounted. For instance, state parks will often waive day use and camping fees on a walk-up, first available basis and via reservations if a military ID is presented. Tents for Troops is another nationwide program that connects the military with a minimum of two night complimentary RV and tent sites. Other camping organizations, like KOA, may offer discounts on a location-by-location basis.
16. Discounted ski passes
Massanutten Resort is offering active-duty, veterans and dependents discounted slope-use tickets. Skiers must present a valid military ID. Guests can enjoy up to 70 skiable acres featuring wide-groomed trails, a learner’s area for beginners, terrain parks, and a multitude of après ski activities.
Vail Resorts offers significantly discounted season passes that gives unlimited access to a slew of its resorts across the nation, in Canada, and Australia for active and retired military plus their families. Military EPIC passes for the 2018/2019 season went on sale for $99, which was 90 percent less than full price, and the company donated a portion of sales to the Wounded Warrior Project. Plus, non-Vail Resort mountains also offer free or discounted tickets, like Squaw Valley Alpine Resort that provides $50 season passes and donates the amount to Military to the Mountains nonprofit.
17. Free admission to select amusement parks
The Waves of Honor program permits any active duty military, activated or drilling reservist, National Guardsman, and three of their dependents to one free admission per year to Sea World, Busch Gardens, or Sesame Place. People must present a military ID to participate, and need to apply for the program in advance online through its Troop ID program.
18. Blue Star Museums
Museums across the U.S. commit to giving military families free access. In fact, the initiative was publically supported by first lady Melania Trump and second lady Karen Pence in 2018. Here is the complete list of participating museums.
19. Veterans Advantage membership
The Public Benefit Corporation provides a wide variety of discounts ranging from car rentals, hotels and resorts, dining, movies, and especially for theme parks including Universal Parks, Six Flags, Seaworld, Legoland, and more. Membership is free and can be signed up for through its website.
20. Dollywood theme park discount
For country music fans and adrenaline junkies alike, Dollywood offers 30 percent off a one-day theme park ticket to active duty, retired, disabled veterans, reservists, and dependents. Military tickets can be purchased at the gate.
This internet retailer website not only provides discounts on tactical gear, tools, and accessories, but travel-related items like rental cars, hotels, cruises, and theme parks. It also offers discounted tickets for sports events like baseball, basketball, or hockey games in addition to race registrations and concerts. The membership is free and can be signed up through its website.
22. Military Exchange vacations
Exchange Online Store and Government Vacation Rewards offers free travel benefits for military families that saves money on hotels, cruises, resorts, flights, and car rentals. To view the travel benefits, register for an account online.
23. Free National Parks pass
The annual pass, normally $80, is free for active duty military members and dependents including Reserve and National Guard members. Obtain the pass in person at any recreation site by showing a valid form of military ID.
24. Legoland amusement parks discounts
Both Legoland resorts offer 10 percent off admission tickets for active military personnel when purchased at a ticket booth when a valid military ID is presented. Legoland Florida Resort & Water Park, though, gives active duty service members free admission to its park without any restrictions or blackout dates, and can be redeemed at the ticket booth. Legoland resorts also offers up to 25 percent off room rates, and can be booked online through its website.
25. Knott’s Berry Farm discount
This California amusement park offers discounts on admission tickets to active duty personnel when a military ID card is presented. Regular ticket price is around $82, but when purchased online it can be as low as $45, depending on the season. Knott’s also has a Military Tribute Days program that gives free admission to active duty service people, retirees, veterans, and one of their guests on specific days throughout the year.
26. Princess Cruises military benefit program
Princess offers up to $250 in onboard spending money, depending on the length of the stay, for free. The benefit must be applied for in advance by submitting an application no less than 14 days from the departure date.
27. Savings with Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival offers reduced deposits, free room upgrades, and up to $50 onboard credit for trips booked months in advance. One must submit documentation to prove eligibility in advance, though, otherwise benefits could be rescinded.
28. Food discounts
Major restaurant chains, like Hard Rock Cafe and Applebees, often offer a significant on the overall bill if a military ID is presented before paying. It is worth asking the server wherever one eats to inquire about what savings the establishment has for military.
29. Retail, gas and camping discounts
With the Good Sam Club membership, which is more than half off its normal cost of $29 for active duty military, people can access discounts on fuel at Pilot Flying J gas stations, Camping World SuperCenters, Good Sam parks and campgrounds, and other retail locations. To enroll, the active duty member must present a military ID in person at any Camping World SuperCenter.
30. Disney discounts
Walt Disney World offers special military pricing on four- and five-day tickets that include the Park Hopper option so families can come and go from resorts as they see fit. Families can also upgrade to the Park Hopper Plus program for $50 more, plus tax. Furthermore, Disneyland offers reduced pricing for three- and four-day Park Hopper tickets. The Disney PhotoPass Collection product can also be added for a discounted price of $49, plus tax. See the desired Disney website for more detailed information.