- As of November 2019 -
For military families, spending time together is a precious commodity, but planning a great vacation without breaking the bank can be a daunting, time-consuming task. Navigating the various websites and finding legitimate deals that apply to members of the armed forces can be a real challenge, but there are real and insightful resources out there if you know where to look. You deserve to give your families a dream vacation without missing out on great savings and benefits that will allow you to travel without added worry or stress.
Spend more time relaxing and enjoying your vacation time and less time stressing over costs, fees, and itineraries.
Active duty military, reservists, members of the National Guard, and DoD civilian employees are eligible for free TSA Precheck at over 100 airports. This a great time-saver when traveling as it allows you to bypass longer security lines without having to remove your shoes or take out electronic equipment as you move through the security screening.
All you need to utilize this service is enter your government DoD 10-digit ID number from the back of your Common Access Card (CAC) when making airline reservations. Dependents age 12 and under may also proceed through TSA Precheck screening when traveling with their eligible family member. Unfortunately, retirees and older dependents are not eligible for free TSA Precheck since they do not undergo routine backgrounds checks as part of their employment, but they can register for the same expedited screening benefits online with the TSA for a fee. For interest in 'Global Entry', visit our Credit Card Benefits page.
American Forces Travel (AFT) is a joint leisure travel website providing travel discounts to eligible DoD members. The extra benefit is that all AFT sales directly benefit Morale Welfare & Recreation (MWR). With economy airfare, seasonal rental car promotions, and thousands of hotels to choose from, families can spend less to travel more. Patrons can rest assured their trips are free of booking fees, and a portion of each booking goes back to MWR programs.
Make sure to filter amenities to match your needs, like free airport shuttle, free breakfast, fitness center availability, and more. Depending on your travel destination, pet friendly lodging is available so you don't have to leave your furry family members at home, or have them boarded.
Most major domestic airlines have great benefits that active duty military and their dependents can take advantage of. You will have to call the airline directly when making reservations in order to get information on military rates offered for specific flights. Note - sometimes you may find that the military rates are higher than the published rates online.
Alaska Airlines: 15% discount on in-flight food purchases and a participant in a host of special programs that include the Alaska Air Fallen Soldiers Program to pay proper tribute to our fallen heroes and the Honor Flight Network to provide complementary travel to Washington, DC for vets being honored on special tours (More on this further down). To inquire about special rates: 1-800-252-7522. Checked bag policy - 5 free checked bags with Active Duty ID.
Allegiant: As a 'discount' airline, they offer excellent benefits to not only active duty, but also extended to veterans and dependents. 3 checked bags, no oversize fee, free seat assignment, and 1 free pet in cabin. Active duty are granted priority boarding and no change fees due to a change in orders.
American: Admirals Club access for active duty military with ID and same day American boarding pass, free seat upgrades when you check-in early at their kiosk the day of your flight, and the Miles for Our Heroes program to assist organizations that work with vets. To inquire about special rates:1-800-433-7300. Checked bag policy - 3 free for personal travel and 5 free on military orders.
Delta: Delta Sky Club access for active duty with ID and same day Delta boarding pass. A direct phone number to their Military/Government Help Desk with agents specializing in military travel discounts: 1-800-221-1212. Checked bag policy - 2 free checked bags for personal travel and 5 free on military orders
Frontier: Offers 1 free personal item, 1 carry-on, and 2 checked bags for active duty personnel with ID (not extended to dependents)
Jet Blue: Service members who are enrolled in the Jet Blue TruBlue mileage program will also earn points on discounted travel booked with the Veteran’s Advantage program. Contact the Government Support Desk at (888) 538- 2583 option 3 to ask about 5% off base fare. Checked bag policy - 2 free checked bags for you and each of your accompanied dependents for personal travel & 5 free bags on orders.
Southwest: Honors military fares for dependents not traveling with their active duty service member. 1-800-IFL-YSWA
United: Active Duty military and traveling family members have access to United Club Lounges with same day boarding pass. They also provide the PetSafe program for military families transporting pets on PCS orders in and out of international destinations:1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331). Checked bag policy - 3 free for personal travel and 5 free for official travel.
Veteran’s Advantage: In addition to all the benefits listed above and club access, Alaska, American, Jet Blue, Southwest, Hawaiian, Lufthansa, and United all participants in the Veteran’s Advantage Program. The program gives enrolled active duty, retirees, guardsmen, veterans and their families 5% discounts on flights for up to 5 companions, discounts on travel insurance, and savings with over 300 partner companies that include Verizon, Hertz, Choice Hotels, Lufthansa Air, Universal Orlando Resort and many more.
Hero Miles Program: Provides round-trip airline tickets to wounded, injured, and ill service members and/or their families who are undergoing treatment at a military or VA medical center; or who are attending an authorized event. Flights are made possible through frequent flyer mile donations made by individual airline passengers. Partner airlines include Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, and United.
Honor Flight Network: Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill. If you know of a veteran that could benefit from this, please help them with the application here.
Always take advantage of mileage and points programs offered by airlines and resorts. Even when traveling on orders, you can earn points that you can use towards personal travel for you and your family which can generate big savings on airfare and lengthy hotel stays. Many airlines also offer credit cards that hold exclusive benefits for military, just be sure to always compare rates and fees before applying and take advantage of the Service Member’s Credit Relief Act to see about eliminating annual fees and getting lower percentage rates. Check out our Military Credit Card Benefits 101 page to learn more!
Amtrak gives active duty U.S. military and their dependents 10% off the rail portion of an Amtrak Vacations package. Tickets must be made in advance by calling a Rail Vacation Specialist at 1-800-268-7252.
Enrollees in the Veteran’s Advantage Program receive great savings with car rental companies like Budget, Avis, Enterprise, and Hertz. All the major car rental companies include special links on their website to highlight all they offer for their military customers.
Military Cruise Deals is a family owned military vacation planning site. This sites give you 5% off the published cruise fares and can give you inside information on popular benefits offered to military passengers. Benefits include free travel insurance, consistent low rates on military fares, and on-board credit ranging from $50-$250.
Here are the direct military rate websites for a few of the top cruise lines
When searching for special military rates for hotels, it is often your best bet to go directly to that hotel's website and select "Military/Government Rate" often found within their advanced search options. Hilton, Marriott, IHG, Choice, Best Western, and a few other major bands are known for matching and passing along standard per diem rates to active duty with ID on leisure travel. However, beware of the occasional glitch. Some members have experienced finding the per diem rate higher than the standard rate.
As with the Airlines, we recommend signing up for your commonly used hotel brand's free reward program. As a 'member' you may qualify for sightly lower rates and it's always a plus to earn free rewards points on TDY.
Armed Forced Vacations Club: is a "Space Available" program that offers military and other Department of Defense-affiliated personnel the opportunity to enjoy vacations at popular destinations around the world - for the incredibly low price of just $349* USD per unit, per week
Some commercial resorts provide fantastic options for our military with properties like Wyndham Resort Destinations, Hilton, and Sandals Resorts celebrating our heroes and their families with unbeatable package deals and upgrades.
*Also, keep in mind that there are some military only resort destinations as described and listed in our Military Inns page.* (New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo, Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul, Edelweiss Lodge & Resort in Germany, Hale Koa in Honolulu, and Shades of Green at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL)
Love to ski or have been itching to try it out this season - then you'll need to look at signing up for the "Epic Pass". The Epic Pass program enables service members and their families unlimited ski passes at some of the most popular ski resorts in the US, Japan, and Australia. Normal adult passes cost $989. However, this amazing deal offers $199 passes for active duty, dependents, and retired and $579 for veterans and their dependents. That's a savings of up to $790!
The pass gives you unlimited access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Park City, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Okemo, Mount Sunapee, and Stevens Pass; Also includes Perisher, Falls Creek and Hotham in Australia for the 2020 ski season, and the 17 Peak Resorts ski areas, including Hunter Mountain and Mount Snow.
Attractions & Tours
Local MWR and ITT ticket offices are a great resource for buying your attraction and tour tickets at steep discounts before you leave for your vacation destination. Enjoy savings of $30 off a single day admission or more for multi-day packages to theme parks like Disney, Universal, and Sea World. Beyond the national theme parks, ITT ticket offices sell discounted tickets to local concerts, sporting events, museums, tours, and even additional savings through hotel voucher programs. Whether going on leave or looking for some weekend fun, be sure to stop by your local office to find out about all the recreational programs they offer.
The National Parks Service grants U.S. active duty military a free annual pass that covers entrance fees and day use fees at more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. The annual pass covers the driver and up to four adults in the vehicle (children 15 and under are free) and can be obtained by showing your Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID upon entrance at select federal recreation land sites.
*Written in Coordination with Tamara, Navy Veteran Spouse*
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