How to Take a Summer Vacation Without Going Broke

How to Take a Summer Vacation Without Going Broke

Family summer vacations aren’t cheap. If you’re like many people, you probably save up all year long just so you can take yourself or your family on a nice trip in the summer. So naturally, you want to get the best value possible out of your vacation. Fortunately, there are several ways you can have a fun and memorable getaway without going broke and breaking your budget. 
If you’re an active duty member or a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, you are eligible for certain benefits that can help you save money on your travel costs. In this guide, we have done the military discount search work for you, so you can cut to the chase and take advantage of the savings. 

Save on Travel with Military Discounts 

Whether you’re flying, driving, taking a cruise, or traveling by rail or bus to your destination, there are several ways you can save on your travel expenses.  
By Car – If your vacation plans involve renting a car, then you’ll find some of the country’s larger rental agencies offer discounts to military personnel. At Alamo, active duty military personnel and veterans can rent cars at a discount rate, regardless of whether you’re traveling for tour-of-duty orders or leisure. Hertz also provides military personnel discount rates, upgrades, and complimentary membership into the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® program. Avis offers a Veterans Advantage program. Once enrolled in the program, the member will receive a 25% reduction off the company’s base rates. 
By Air  If you’re traveling by air to your vacation destination, then taking time to check out the available military discounts offered by different airlines can help you save on your trip. For instance, Allegiant Airlines allows service members and veterans to check up to three bags at no cost, as well as other benefits. United has a Veterans Advantage program that provides military veterans, active duty military, National Guard, and Reserve members, and their families up to a five percent discount on airfare. Meanwhile, JetBlue offers military leisure travel (MLT) fares that are also five percent cheaper than their regular fares. And don’t forget about the unique Space-A travel military benefit which allows members of the Armed Forces to travel on a military flight for free or almost free.  
By Rail or Bus – Both Amtrak and Greyhound offer active duty and veteran personnel discounts on rates. With your valid active-duty U.S. Armed Forces ID card, you, your spouse, and your dependents are eligible to receive a 10% discount on the lowest available rail fare on most Amtrak trains, including the Auto Train. Greyhound also offers active and retired U.S. military members as well as spouses and dependents 10% off select Greyhound fares. In addition, military personnel and veterans can get a round-trip ticket to anywhere in the U.S. from Greyhound for just $279 or less. 
By Water – If you’re planning on taking the family on a cruise this summer, then make sure you check your cruise line of choice for any military benefits they might offer. Princess Cruises is one of them. It offers active duty service members and veterans up to $250 free onboard spending money. The amount provided is based on the length of the cruise and certain restrictions apply. Rather than a straight-up discount, Carnival offers special military fares on select cruises throughout the year. MSC Cruises offers up to a 10% savings that can be applied to multiple staterooms and there are no penalties for redeployment. Learn more about military cruise discounts 

Save on Accommodations  

U.S. active duty service members and veterans can also enjoy savings on vacation accommodations. So before you book your hotel, this is something you’ll want to inquire about with your hotel of choice. For instance, Best Western® offers military and government discounts of 10% or more off the Flexible Rate at Best Western® Hotels and Resorts throughout North America. Choice Hotels also offers a military discount, but the amount saved is not listed on its website, so you will have to call the hotel you’re interested in staying at to get that information. Motel 6 has more than 1,300 locations nationwide and all active duty and retired personnel and their families can save 10% off their stays at any of them. Other national chains that offer military discounts include: 

Region-specific hotels include: 

Read this Omni blog for more information on military hotel discounts 

Vacation home rentals 

If you want something more private and spacious than a hotel room, you may want to consider renting a home, condo, cabin or apartment. Vacation home rentals can be very cost-effective especially if you travel with a larger group – you can all share the costs!  
Many vacation rental services and communities throughout the country offer military discounts. Whether you love the sea or the mountains, there is a vacation getaway for your budget.  
One popular vacation rental resource available to the military is Navy Getaways, part of the Department of Defense Lodge website. Active duty, retirees, NAF and DoD civilians can use Navy Getaways to locate vacation rentals near military bases. These rentals give you access to MWR food and beverage facilities, fitness centers and more.  
Learn more about military vacation rentals 

Travel Tips That Can Help You Save Even More 

If you’re new to traveling for leisure, then there are several things you can do to help cut your vacation expenses even beyond those of any available military discounts. These involve being flexible and a little savvy with your decisions. 
1. Plan in advance
The first thing you should do is to plan your trip well in advance. The more time you have between your travel and accommodation bookings and your trip date, the more you’ll be able to save on fares and rates.  
2. Research 
Do your research and compare prices on everything. Using travel sites like Priceline, Expedia,, and others can make this task a lot quicker and easier for you.  
3. Fly mid-week or during the off-hours 
When planning your flight, choosing to fly on mid-week days and late at night/early morning will typically provide you with the cheapest airfare. Another plus, the airlines won’t be as busy either. Again, research is essential.  
4. Travel off-season 
If you have some flexibility in your schedule, then choosing to take a vacation during the “off-season” is another way to save on just about everything. When tourist season is over, hotel prices drop, restaurants reduce their prices, car rentals are cheaper, and many other things may be more affordable than during peak vacation times.

5. Eat for less 
Food can “eat” up a large part of your vacation budget, but there are many ways you can cut down on these costs. 

  • Stay at a hotel that offers free breakfasts.  
  • Book a room with a built-in kitchen and prepare some of your meals in-room.  
  • When you go out to eat, remember to always ask if the restaurant offers a military discount. For instance, you can often find discounts at eateries like Johnny Rockets, Shoney’s Restaurants, Boston Market, IHOP, Lone Star Steakhouse, Denny’s, Del Taco, Dairy Queen, Cracker Barrel, Golden Corral, and many others. It is important to note that not every branch of these restaurants offers a military discount and that discounts can change at any time.  
  • Bring easily transportable snacks if possible so you can avoid having to stop somewhere to fill between-meal hunger pangs. 

What it all comes down to is there are dozens of ways you can save on your vacation this year. All it takes is some planning, some research, and being a little flexible. And always remember to ask about a military discount. You’ll be surprised at how much and how often your time in the military can help you save. 
View specific websites for discount details, exclusions, restrictions, and blackout dates. Valid proof of military service is required for all military discounts.  Discounts and offers subject to change.

The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only.

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