Military families have their own set of unique challenges when it comes to family vacations and travel. For the spouse, holding down the fort can be challenging and making sure everyone is happy and healthy can take its toll. Because military life can be very stressful for families, it's important to not let the long separations, frequent moves, and extended work hours bring down the relationship. Spending quality time together is critical.
Thankfully, families can focus on what's most important by getting away and spending some vacation time together. To make it even more affordable, many vacation clubs, resorts, and travel agencies provide exclusive deals to military families as a means of appreciation and support.
The Armed Forces Vacation Club (AFVC) offers worldwide travel deals to military families. Destinations include resorts in the U.S. and 79 other countries. Membership is free and some week-long vacations cost as little as $349 (on a Space-A basis, of course). They also have some nice travel-planning resources and advice for families.
The Armed Forces Vacation Club is a part of Wyndham Worldwide, a large hospitality company and so AFVC has access to many of condominium-style timeshares and resorts. They are not endorsed by or affiliated with the military.
The Armed Forces Recreation Centers (AFRC) provide luxurious accommodations at very affordable prices in some of the world's top vacation destinations.
AFRC operates resorts in Virginia, Florida, Hawaii, Germany, and Korea. Although AFRC resorts are operated by the Army's Morale, Welfare, and Recreation office, they welcome service members from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. The resorts are affordable, family-friendly, and located in some of the most beautiful spots in the world.
From the Hale Koa Hotel, or "House of the Warrior," right on the beach in Waikiki, to The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in the beautiful Bavarian Alps, military families can vacation together at very reasonable prices.
Shades of Green is one of the facilities operated by the Armed Forces Recreation Center Resorts. This one is located at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The facility, exclusive to military families, serves active duty, Reserve, Guard, retirees, and families of fallen and disabled service-members in all branches of the Armed Forces. Rates are based on military rank at check-in.
Shades of Green is within walking distance of two Walt Disney World Resort golf courses and a nine-hole executive course. Shades of Green guests are provided transportation to Walt Disney World attractions and, at times, are offered early entry to the parks.
Located in Seward, Alaska, this resort caters to military families in all branches of the Armed Forces, including Guard and Reserve. Veterans with 100% service disability are also eligible. Open year-round, they offer a variety of activities that are usually at pretty good discounts, such as hiking, fishing, snowmobiling, sight-seeing, glacier tours, and more. A valid military ID is required upon check-in, and the rates you pay depend on your rank, with E1-E5 paying the least.
Military Cruises offers the lowest direct-buy rates on cruises for U.S. service members and veterans who have been honorably discharged. Families can choose from numerous destinations and cruise lines. You'll simply need to provide a copy of your military ID or DD214 within 48 hours of making your reservation. The site is a division of The Cruise Store.
If you're planning a family vacation, you don't have to be limited by popular military resources. There's additional tour operators, destination resorts, and other vacation-related companies that offer significant discounts to military personnel. In some cases, discounts are open to active duty service members and families only. In others, serving in the Reserve or Guard, or being an honorably discharged veteran, will qualify you.
You can also ask about military discounts at restaurants, car rental companies, museums, amusement parks, equipment rental companies, clothing stores, and just about any other type of travel-related business you can think of.