Summer is here, and now is the perfect time to take advantage of some amazing vacation destinations that are discounted for military service members and their families.
We update and publish this list each year as a reminder that there are some great opportunities for you and your family to get away from it all and yet not deplete your savings account.
Maybe this is the year you visit a new state or even venture outside of the United States and visit some gorgeous destinations in Europe or Asia. Hopefully, this list will spark an interest in a vacation destination you had not previously considered.
If you're simply looking for inexpensive billeting along your PCS route or at a desirable location close to home, it's always a great idea to look into military lodging and an easy resource for all of your billeting needs is PCS-Lodging.com. Created by the owners of MilitaryByOwner.com, this site makes it easy to find affordable billeting throughout the United States.
Another great resource is Military Living’s "Military Travel Guide U.S.A." reference guide. You can pick one up at your local exchange or you can order it online. For just over $35, this book can be an invaluable tool and provide you with all of the information and contacts you need to enjoy military lodging, RV, camping, and Space A travel.
While the guide may help you consider something new, there are of course the desired vacation destinations that create visions of relaxation and adventure.
Military Discounts for Specific Locations
The number one vacation destination for families is Walt Disney World in Florida. What a fantastic place to spend time with our family, and even better if it doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg. The military has a facility on the park grounds called Shades of Green.
This beautiful resort is situated in the heart of the Magic Kingdom and includes free transportation to all of the Disney resorts. It is surrounded by two championship golf courses, includes access to two pools and a fitness center, and has dining, shopping, and laundry facilities. They also have discount tickets available for purchase for most Orlando area attractions. If the resort is full on your desired days of travel, they will try and put you up in a nearby facility for the same rate. This is a deal that is hard to beat.
Be sure if you are visiting a Walt Disney Parks to check with the ITT office at your military installation to purchase discount tickets. If you forget to purchase them ahead of time, ask at the ticket window for their discounted military rates.
While in Florida, you may also want to consider the idea of visiting the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, as there is so much to see and explore at the Space Center. You can find discount tickets to the Space Center at your local MWR office. Check into reservations at The Space Coast Inn on Patrick AFB in Cocoa Beach. With low nightly rates, this trip won't break the bank.
With the rich history in Williamsburg, there is so much culture to be enjoyed and shared with your family. Plus you're just minutes away from Water Country USA and Busch Gardens. Both of these parks are fantastic and they offer a free one-day pass to military members and up to three free passes for direct family members as part of their Waves of Honor program.
Take advantage of the great recreational facilities at the Cheatham Annex in Williamsburg, VA. They offer recreational cabins and camping spaces, as well the opportunity to take part in various recreational activities.
If a relaxing vacation seaside is more your idea of fun, then maybe the Cape Henry Inn on Fort Story is the perfect location. As one of the Armed Forces Recreation Center Resorts, this facility provides an affordable seaside vacation for all military members and their families. Choose from hotel rooms, cottages, bungalows, and even log cabins, all with spectacular views and access to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Cottages at Dam Neck in Virginia Beach also offers the opportunity to enjoy the balmy Virginia summer on the Atlantic coast. They offer two- and three-bedroom oceanfront cottages for weekly rental during the peak summer months at very affordable prices.
While you're in the Virginia area, maybe you should venture north for a visit to our Nation's Capital.
Only about 3-4 hours from the Virginia Beach/Williamsburg area, you will find more to do in DC then you have time to do it. With most of the attractions being free, it can be an affordable vacation for the family.
There are numerous military installations in the DC, Virginia, and Maryland area, so you should have no problem finding nice, affordable lodging. A good place to start is with Bolling Air Force Base in DC or Ft. Belvoir in Virginia.
Ah yes, Hawaii, a wonderful tropical destination which can cost you an arm and a leg to enjoy. However, again there are some great facilities to take advantage of that can make even this resort destination affordable.
Another facility that is a member of the Armed Forces Recreation Center Resorts is the Hale Koa, located right on the beach at Waikiki, Oahu. The mission statement of the Hale Koa is "to operate a first class hotel and recreation facility at affordable prices for military members and their families." Almost sounds too good to be true, but I can attest that it is everything it claims to be!
While there may be affordable lodging on Hawaii, I know you are thinking about the expense to get there. Well, this is where the real adventure comes in. You could consider the idea of Space A flight travel. Yes, taking a MAC flight!
While this can be risky because you are essentially flying standby, it can also be the cheapest way you will ever get from one destination to another. You have to carefully consider this option, but if you are able to adjust your travel dates on either end of your trip, this could be the perfect solution.
There are quite a few websites that offer advice and support for Space A travel, so performing an Internet search is a great place to start. When our family traveled Space A to Europe, we found this Space A site to be very useful.
You can get great deals on either end of California, but let's start down south in San Diego. Once again, you have Sea World there, so you can take advantage of their Waves of Honor offer and enjoy a day with Shamu.
With the gorgeous beaches, fabulous restaurants, and numerous entertainment options, San Diego is an all-inclusive destination. There are several bases in the San Diego area that offer lodging. Take a look at the Navy Lodge North Island NAS or the Navy Lodge San Diego Naval Base.
Camp Pendleton is another fabulous resource for great billeting! The base offers two different beach cottages for rent, and each have direct beach access and incredible ocean views. They also have a large number of full service RV beachfront campsites at both locations. This is a summer treat that is hard to beat!
If your travels take you to Northern California, be sure to look into the Marines' Memorial Club. This is not considered a "military lodging" facility, but rather a club/hotel exclusively for uniformed services personnel, active duty, retirees, and their guests.
This club/hotel is a living memorial to Marines who lost their lives in the Pacific during WWII. With rates a bit higher than the other facilities mentioned, it is still considerably less than what you will find for other hotels in the area. It is right in the heart of San Francisco with easy access to cable cars and other area attractions and it is an absolutely stunning hotel.
Let’s take this opportunity to venture far from home and bask in the beauty of the Bavarian Alps in Germany.
The Edelweiss resort offers high-adventure in one of the premier sporting areas in Germany. They offer spacious guest rooms and cozy log cabins nestled in amongst the picturesque Alps with access to wellness clubs, pools, spas, dining, and guided tours. This is an amazing place to visit year-round!
If Asia appeals to you, then the Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul, South Korea is the perfect destination.
Located in the heart of Seoul, you will be able to explore the rich and diverse culture that is South Korea. Visit museums, art exhibits, teahouses, landmarks and more. The resort offers beautiful rooms, access to health club, pool, dining, and lounges.
With the number of airlines charging fees for checked baggage, it is beneficial to check the various airlines ahead of time to see if they offer to waive the fees for active duty military and/or their dependents. These fees certainly can add to the bottom line of vacation expenses, so choosing an airline that does not charge extra fees can free up money for other items.
If your plans do not take you far from home this summer, be sure to check with your local ITT/MWR office for discounted tickets to attractions in your area. As a general rule of thumb, try presenting your military ID when checking out at stores and restaurants or just ask if various places offer military discounts. You might just be surprised how many places will give you 10% off of your purchases.
Wherever your travels take you and your family this summer, we hope that it is a safe and fun journey and hopefully we have inspired you to find a great new destination!