This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Navy Federal Credit Union. All opinions are 100% mine. Navy Federal is federally insured by NCUA.
If there’s one thing I know about military families, it’s that they’re (almost always) up for adventure. Whether it’s moving across the country or planning a vacation on their own, a lot of military families love traveling, experiencing new things, and making memories. I’ll be honest, traveling (and planning for our next trip) is one of my favorite things to do. I love creating itineraries. I love researching. I love finding deals and discounts. I love packing (although I hate unpacking) and pretty much any mode of transportation. The only part about vacation that I dislike is coming home. Travel can be expensive, depending on what you want to do, where you want to go, and how you want to make that happen. And it makes it a lot less fun when you’re concerned about how you’re going to pay for your vacation. Let’s relieve some of that stress by adding these ideas to your planning and execution of your next trip to save substantially.
1. Let’s talk about discounts
Military families are well-acquainted with military discounts. From big box stores like Lowe’s and Michaels to small mom-and-pop shops, online and in brick-and-mortars, military discounts from retailers have exploded in popularity over the past few years. But how often do military families seek out discounts during vacation in the US? John and I have wrapped the practice of asking about a military or veteran’s discount everywhere we’ve spent money. By asking about a discount, during travel, we’ve gotten discounts on tour tickets, hotel rooms, souvenirs, meals, and other unexpected extras. At a New Orleans hotel, John asked the concierge about a discount (which they had) and later that afternoon, room service brought up a surprise bottle of champagne from the concierge who had also served in the Navy. In Kentucky and Tennessee, we purchased tickets online with a veteran’s discount for tours at distilleries. In Corinth, Mississippi, we received $15 off a souvenir purchase. There are so many more instances of military and discounts we’ve received during travel and those percentages add up over time!
2. Don’t forget about installations for housing
Active duty and retired families can take advantage of the hotels, cabins, campgrounds, and resorts that the military offers as a pretty cool perk. Often doing so can save you literally hundreds of dollars, depending on where you’re staying. Be aware that pricing for military hotels, cabins, campgrounds, and resorts correlate to your service member’s rank. You’ll want to plan ahead as far as you can since sometimes these offerings can fill up quickly. Check online or with your installation’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Office to learn more about their offerings. Don’t forget, the MWR can also help you score discounted tickets on experiences including tours, amusement parks, and entertainment. They have discounted rental equipment at some installations that might include kayaks, tents, grills, and other items that can make your trip a lot of fun.
3. Think about your credit card
Everyone has an opinion on credit cards, especially in the military community. If you do choose to use them, there are a few things to consider when it comes to travel. Consider the rewards that your credit card offers. Is earning airline miles important to you? Points to redeem for hotel stays? Maybe you just want cash back. Saving those rewards and using your card during travel can help amplify savings and add extra perks to your trip. We use Navy Federal Credit Union’s cashRewards credit card and save the cash for a splurge every so often. Once you’ve decided on your travel plans, give your bank and credit card companies a call to let them know you’ll be traveling and spending outside of your normal habits. That way, you’ll be less likely to have your card suspended during your trip. Before any trip, John and I set our travel notifications with Navy Federal through our online account or give them a ring. It’s super easy, gives us peace of mind, and helps to avoid a lot of needless frustration and stress.
Navy Federal can help keep your finances secure, no matter if you’re headed on a trip to another country or just to the grocery store. Learn more about managing your finances with Navy Federal and how you can become a member.
4. Plan strategically
While you’re planning your travel, consider checking out areas that are military-friendly or have military installations. For example, Virginia Beach, is a great place to visit for military families– whether you’re exploring your own backyard on a staycation (or nearly staycation) or coming from states away. You can create a vacation out of attractions that feature military discounts– Colonial Williamsburg, Great Wolfe Lodge, Busch Gardens, and Kings Dominion, which are all within easy driving distance of Virginia Beach. There are also Navy Lodges available and MWR campgrounds and beaches to enjoy on base. Off base, there are National Parks in the area (that you can access with the America the Beautiful card which is free to all military members) and a bunch of Blue Star Museums you can visit for free from Memorial Day to Labor Day.