The days are longer, the sun is hotter, and the school year has ended - summer is officially upon us! Summer often evokes memories like freshly squeezed lemonade and splashing around at the beach, but, my absolute favorite memories come from the summer vacations I’ve taken with my family.
If you’ve been thinking about taking a summer vacation but haven’t made plans yet, don’t fret! We’ve compiled a list of awesome vacation options with discounts for military families.
We also recommend checking with your local installation travel office, as there are often special packages available that are not advertised. Likewise, most major hotels (and some smaller ones) offer military discounts, too. Always be sure to read through the different options when you search, as military and government rates are often hidden through the ‘advanced search’ feature. If you can’t find anything, calling the hotel is always worth a shot.
Space-A Vacations via Armed Forces Vacation Club:
When a military family hears the term ‘space-a,’ it’s likely that a large military jet with extremely uncomfortable seats comes to mind. If that’s where your mind went, I have good news for you: that is NOT what we are talking about here! Space-A-Vacations is a booking hub where military families can book hotels (sometimes even condos or apartments) for a week at a time for a standard price - as low as $350 for the whole week. Typically, families aren’t charged additional for extra people staying in the room, so your money can go a very long way if you have a large family. There are options all over the world to choose from and some of the hotels are all-inclusive - just be mindful that the all-inclusive package price per person is additional.
Walt Disney World and Disneyland:
Walt Disney World and Disneyland have been fantastic about offering discounts on park tickets to military members, families, and veterans. Depending on the location, you can purchase a 3, 4, or 5 day ticket for a fraction of cost to the general public, but there are several blackout dates throughout the year. Disneyland also offers a military discount on hotel stays, while Walt Disney World has a military-specific hotel, Shades of Green. Whichever you choose, you are sure to have a magical experience!
Several major cruise lines offer special military pricing on select sailings. For example, Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean all offer military options. To find military pricing on Royal Caribbean, be sure to select ‘Military’ in the ‘more filters’ option after you begin a search. Cruises are an awesome way to vacation because meals and onboard activities are typically included in the cruise rate. Most cruises also have kids clubs so depending on your kids’ ages, you could also enjoy some adults-only time in the sun.
Great Wolf Lodge:
The Great Wolf Lodges offer discounts for military members, as well as for police, fire, and EMS personnel. With 18 locations throughout North America you’re likely to have one nearby. Staying at The Great Wolf Lodge is a unique experience because they’re known for their indoor water parks. Many locations also have onsite shows, a spa, and several restaurants. If you’re looking for an easy place to take the whole family, this is a fantastic one-stop-shop option with everything you need right inside the building.
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway this summer, check out Sandals Resorts. These couples-only resorts offer a 10% discount to military and emergency personnel, as well. There are several locations across the Caribbean to choose from and all Sandals Resorts are all-inclusive (some restrictions apply), so you pay one price for all of your food, beverages, and activities. If you visit an island with multiple Sandals locations, they will even allow you to explore the other properties for free. This is the perfect place to leave your worries behind and reconnect with the one you love.
Additional Theme Parks:
Many theme parks across the country are known to offer special military pricing for admission. For example, Sea World parks offer free or discounted admission for military members and their dependents, depending on which park you are planning to visit. Partners of SeaWorld, like Sesame Place and Busch Gardens offer either free or discounted tickets, as well. Most Six Flags locations offer a 20% discount on single day passes, and tickets can be purchased on base. If you’re planning to visit a theme park that hasn’t made it to our list, we recommend you check the park’s website and check with installation personnel to see if any discounted (or free) tickets are available.