I am being compensated for this post through Find Your Influence for GVR. All thoughts and opinions (and awesome vacation hacks) are my own.
Summer is so close! And it’s time to start planning for vacation! John and I are taking a rather large vacation (we haven’t gone on one in two years), so you know where my brain is! We’re still a young couple and while we’re able to take a vacation, we want to make our money last and go as far as it can. (Everyone wants that, right?)
Put in for Leave Early
I know it goes without saying, but put in those leave chits early so that you have plenty of time to plan. Costs generally go up when you’re planning things last minute (especially when it comes to airfare), so knowing that you have your vacation dates secured early out can make huge financial sense.
Know Your Discounts
There are tons of opportunities for discounts all across the country (and world) for military families… if you know where to look for them. I’ve compiled 48 freebies, services, and discounts exclusively for military families who are traveling and on vacation– so make sure you start there!
Use Government Vacations Rewards
For service government employees, retired vets, and active military, Government Vacation Rewards (GVR) offers the opportunity to use the Military Star Card to book travel at discounted prices, which includes airfare. (Woohoo!) This also means that you’re able to pay for your travel costs over time. Essentially, you get to take advantage of GVR’s buying power and relationships in the travel industry so you can purchase travel options at wholesale costs.
And this isn’t some creepy fly-by-night, we’ll-take-your-money-say-goodbye-to-your-vacation scheme. You might recognize GVR’s co-brand, MWR Exchange Vacations– sounds familiar, right? They’re also partnered with heavy-hitters such as AAFES (MWR Exchange Vacations), VCS (Veteran Canteen Services), the American Legion, Beneplace, MOAA (Military Officers Association), and Lockheed Martin.
Take Advantage of Summer Coupons and Deals!
Yup, during the summer, everyone wants to go on vacation and relax. The kids are out of school, the weather is gorgeous… and the masses are swarming beaches, parks, and other tourist spots. The awesome thing? The vacation industry wants your money. So take advantage of the best offers they have. When you book hotels, make sure you always ask for their military discount and rock-bottom prices.
Plan for Your Budget
You should never taken on debt to go on vacation. It’s really tempting– I know!– but if you can’t pay off your vacation in one month, you should opt for a smaller, shorter, or less luxurious vacation. Here’s why: when you borrow cash for vacation (whether it’s from a credit card or from a bank), you’re accruing interest the entire time. Some credit cards have interest rates of upwards of 30%– which means more cash out of your pocket with nothing to show for it.
Be Strategic and Flexible
Military travel benefits are amazing if you’re strategic and flexible. They can truly add up to save you hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. Try to layer military benefits and savings to get the most bang for you buck. For example, if you’re interested in going to Europe, many Space-A flights land at bases in Germany. Make sure you’re close to a base that flies to Germany, first of all (some bases might not). Then, consider the lodging in Germany. There’s the military-sponsored Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, which can help you lower the costs of lodging.
Consider a Military-Friendly Area
Areas with a higher concentration of military families usually have more discounts and services available than those that don’t. Take Virginia, for example. You can travel to the Williamsburg area, and create a vacation out of attractions that feature military discounts– Colonial Williamsburg, Great Wolfe Lodge, Busch Gardens, and Kings Dominion. Don’t forget to check out the National Parks in the area as well as Blue Star Museums.