There is no denying that a military career is busy, let alone planning a vacation between deployments, annual training, drill weekends or just day-to-day life. Leave exists for a reason, and companies are saying ‘thank you for your service’ by extending military discounts exclusively for those who serve. Here’s some starting points for where you can stretch your hard earned dollars using that military ID card.
Planes, trains and automobiles
- Many airlines offer discounts to active duty service people that may be significantly less that publicly posted fares. Unlike government fares, military fares are set aside by airlines — like Delta, United, JetBlue and Southwest — for active duty personnel on orders. To take advantage of the rates, call the airlines directly to inquire about a discount.
Space available flights
- Space-A, military hops or whatever one’s preferred term is, this travel opportunity is monetarily free (or mostly). While it is not a reliable means of travel and relies on some form of active duty status to be used, for those with a flexible timeline and are good at strategically planning multiple backup plans, this is something military families should take advantage of. Reservists on active duty for more than 30 days can use the service for leave, as well as their families.
Baggage fee discounts
- Most airlines will waive or discount baggage fees for military families, although each has its own unique policy. For instance, Delta and American Airlines will waive fees for up to three bags for active duty on personal travel or up to five bags if on official orders. After booking a flight, check the airline’s rules for checked luggage.
Travel perks through American Express Platinum
- As a response to the US Congress passing the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act in 2003, American Express now waives its annual fees on its credit cards for any service members called to active duty. This means that, for free, service members have access to its Platinum credit card. The premium card gives access to travel perks like concierge booking services, five times the points for booking through it for flights, worldwide airport lounge access, a $200 airline fee allowance, and a reimbursement for the TSA Precheck fee. Apply for the credit card and be sure to request its service member benefits.
- This new travel booking website is the co-brainchild of Priceline and the Department of Defense, in an effort to provide an easy platform where any branch of the military can easily access unique rates on hotels, air fare, rental cars, vacation packages and cruises.
- Active duty military are eligible for a 10% discount on the lowest available fares, and military children up to 12 years old are eligible to receive a 10% discount on top of the standard children’s 50% discount. Be aware that the discounts do have some limitations.
Greyhound fare discounts
- Active and retired military service members and their families receive 10% off full-price tickets when purchased at the station.
Sandals and Beaches Resorts discounts
- The all-inclusive resort company offers a year-round 10% discount that is added to any existing promotional rate for all military personnel including the reserves and guard.
- Department of Defense lodging provides hundreds of places to stay around the world, sometimes in basic accommodations and in other beachside condominiums, all for military-only guests and at genuine deals. For the next vacation, it could be worth seeing if there is a lodge and availability at the destination on www.DODLodging.net. Reservists and National Guardsmen traveling on orders that authorize lodging are eligible.
Armed Forces Vacation Club membership
- Wyndham Worldwide Corporation offers a free membership program to all active duty military, veterans, Guardsmen and Reservists that gives them the opportunity to stay at condominium-style timeshares around the world for prices as low as $349 per week, without having to attend timeshare presentations.
Prestigious military clubs around the world
- For a nominal membership fee, active duty status military can gain access to Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel in San Francisco only a few blocks from the Golden Gate Bridge. Lodging prices are incomparable to the civilian hotels especially considering the location and luxury. Reciprocal clubs around the world include the Victory Services Club in London and New York Athletic Club on Central Park.
Free lodging through Vacation for Vets
- In Honor of Our Troops Foundation, a nonprofit organization, offers free weeklong vacation accommodations for active duty service members and veterans once a year. Locations range around the U.S. Restrictions about how far in advance to apply and no guarantee on availability might be a deterrent, but the price is only a minimal processing fee if the application is approved.
Free and discounted campsites
- Fees at various campgrounds across the nation are eligible to be waived or discounted for active duty military. For instance, state parks will often waive day use and camping fees on a walk-up, first available basis and via reservations if a military ID is presented. Tents for Troops is another nationwide program that connects the military with a minimum of two night complimentary RV and tent sites. Other camping organizations, like KOA, may offer discounts on a location-by-location basis.
Super cheap season ski passes
- Vail Resorts offers significantly discounted season passes that gives unlimited access to a slew of its resorts across the nation, in Canada and Australia for active and retired military plus their families. Plus, members of the Reserve and guard are eligible for the Military Epic Pass if they are currently serving and on Title 32 orders. Other resorts also offer free or discounted tickets, like Squaw Valley Alpine Resort that provides $60 season passes to valid military ID holders. Most ski resorts give some kind of military discount.
Free admission to select amusement parks
- The Waves of Honor program permits any active duty military, activated or drilling reservist, National Guardsman and three of their dependents to one free admission per year to Sea World, Busch Gardens or Sesame Place. People must present a military ID to participate, and need to apply for the program in advance online through its Troop ID program.
Blue Star Museums
- Museums across the U.S. commit to giving military families free access. In fact, the initiative was publicly supported by first lady Melania Trump and second lady Karen Pence in 2018. The National Endowment for the Arts compiles a list of participating museums at its website.
Veterans Advantage membership
- The Public Benefit Corporation provides a wide variety of discounts ranging from car rentals, hotels and resorts, dining, movies and especially for theme parks including Universal Parks, Six Flags, Seaworld, Legoland and more. Membership is free for active duty military, veterans and family, and can be signed up for through its website.
Dollywood theme park discount
- For country music fans and adrenaline junkies alike, Dollywood offers 30% off a one-day theme park ticket to active duty, retired, disabled veterans, reservists and dependents. Military tickets can be purchased at the gate.
- This internet retailer website not only provides discounts on tactical gear, tools and accessories, but travel-related items like rental cars, hotels, cruises and theme parks. It also offers discounted tickets for sports events like baseball, basketball or hockey games in addition to race registrations and concerts. The membership is free and can be signed up through its website.
MWR Exchange vacations
- Exchange Online Store and Government Vacation Rewards offers free travel benefits for active duty military families and veterans that saves money on hotels, cruises, resorts, flights and car rentals. To view the travel benefits, register for an account online.
Free National Parks pass
- The annual pass, normally $80, is free for active duty military members and dependents including Reserve and National Guard members. Obtain the pass in person at any recreation site by showing a valid form of military ID.
Legoland amusement parks discounts
- Both Legoland resorts offer 10% off admission tickets for active military personnel when purchased at a ticket booth when a valid military ID is presented. Legoland Florida Resort & Water Park, though, gives active duty service members free admission to its park without any restrictions or blackout dates, and can be redeemed at the ticket booth. Legoland resorts also offers up to 25% off room rates, and can be booked online through its website.
Knott’s Berry Farm discount
- This California amusement park offers discounts on admission tickets to active duty personnel when a military ID card is presented. Regular ticket price is around $82, but when purchased online it can be as low as $45, depending on the season. Knott’s also has a Military Tribute Days program that gives free admission to active duty service people, retirees, veterans and one of their guests on specific days throughout the year. See its website for the 2019 schedule.
- Princess offers up to $250 in onboard spending money, depending on the length of the stay, for free. The benefit must be applied for in advance by submitting an application no less than 14 days from the departure date.
Savings with Carnival Cruise Lines
- Carnival offers reduced deposits, free room upgrades and up to $50 onboard credit for trips booked months in advance. One must submit documentation to prove eligibility in advance, though, otherwise benefits could be rescinded.
- Major restaurant chains, like Hard Rock Cafe and Applebees, often offer military discounts on the overall bill if an ID is presented before paying. It is worth asking the server wherever one eats to inquire about what savings the establishment has for military.
Retail, gas and camping discounts
- With the Good Sam Club membership, which is more than half off its normal cost of $29 for active duty military, people can access discounts on fuel at Pilot Flying J gas stations, Camping World SuperCenters, Good Sam parks and campgrounds, and other retail locations. To enroll, the active duty member must present a military ID in person at any Camping World SuperCenter.
- Walt Disney World offers special military pricing on four- and five-day tickets that include the Park Hopper option so families can come and go from resorts as they see fit. Families can also upgrade to the Park Hopper Plus program for $50 more, plus tax. Furthermore, Disneyland offers reduced pricing for three- and four-day Park Hopper tickets. The Disney PhotoPass Collection product can also be added for a discounted price of $49, plus tax. See the desired Disney website for more detailed information.