Being in the military is not always a picnic. From frequent moves to unexpected TDYs and deployments (and that whole, people-trying-to-kill-you thing), it can be pretty stressful. But, it is not all bad. The military takes you to all corners of the earth, and you often travel much more than the average American. And along with the PCS adventures you get to do, there are some great travel deals offered as an appreciation for your service.
Here are just a few of the best military travel and vacation deals out there:
Armed Forces Recreation Centers
Armed Forces Recreation Centers (AFRCs) provide rest, relaxation, recreation and sustainment for military personnel, their families and other members of the Total Defense Force. There currently are four AFRCs across the world: Shades of Green at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida; Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul, South Korea; Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; and Hale Koa Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii. Demand for rooms at the AFRCs can be high, so plan ahead and grab one of these deals.
Armed Forces Vacation Club
Armed Forces Vacation Club (AFVC) offers all eligible members of the U.S. military vacations at an affordable price. Explore all of the rental options in destinations all around the world, including the popular $349 week-long Space-A stays.
Blue Star Museums
This program is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, Department of Defense, and museums across America. Each summer since 2010, Blue Star Museums have offered free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The list of participating museums for each year is typically posted in May.
Military Outdoors, part of Sierra Club Outdoors, organizes outdoor trips for veterans, other service members and their families. The group promotes the idea that time spent in nature fosters mental and physical health, emotional resiliency, and leadership development. For many veterans, spending time in the outdoors can also help ease the transition to civilian life.
Amusement Parks and Other Activities
While you probably already know about the awesome deals your family can get at Disneyland or Disney World, you also can usually get great deals on day or multi-day passes at other amusement parks and attractions. From Cedar Point in Ohio or Universal Studios in Orlando, to Six Flags and Great Wolf Lodge locations all over the U.S., it seems that most big attractions also salute service members and their families by offering great, exclusive deals. From discounts on day passes to special days (such as around Memorial Day) where service members get in for free, there are many ways you and your family can save on a special trip. SeaWorld even offers free admission for service members and up to three direct dependents for one day per year—your choice! And, be sure to visit the ITT office on your local installation for even more deals and discounts near you.
You can get a free annual pass as a current U.S. service member or a dependent of a deployed service member, which covers any entrance fees to Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service sites, as well as standard amenity fees at Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation sites.
The annual pass can be obtained at Federal recreation sites with a proper military ID or other official documentation. The pass allows free access to the holder and any accompanying passengers in a private, non-commercial vehicle, or up to three other adults.