When you are part of a military family, you live and breathe sacrifice.
Not only does the actual service member sacrifice their time, effort, and sometimes their lives, their spouses and children are often moving from state to state every other year, living for months on their own during deployments, and knowingly putting a strain on their relationships.
Military families need to understand these challenges and be aware of what they can do to improve their connections and honor their sacrifices. A great way to do just that is going on a family vacation.
How to Go on Vacation in the Military
Even for average Americans, it’s tough to find time to get away and take a vacation. Not to mention the cost and stress that vacations often cause. Even though traveling is supposed to be relaxing, it can easily become the very opposite.
Once you add the military into the mix, it can get even harder to make a family vacation happen. But as we mentioned before, for military families, dealing with long separations and strenuous work hours, vacations become even more important.
The good news is that many agencies and organizations are working to make vacations for military families more affordable and less stressful. If your family is feeling the pressure of military life and you’re wondering what you can do to help ease the tension, you should look into the Armed Forces Vacation Club (AFVC).
Here, we’re going over what the AFVC entails and how to book your first military family vacation through the organization.
About the AFVC
The AFVC is part of Wyndham Worldwide, a brand name you’ll surely recognize. Wyndham is a major player in the world of hospitality so you know you’ll be in good hands when booking through this service.
Wyndham’s highly rated properties make it possible for military families to take advantage of more than 4,000 resorts, condo, apartment, and home properties in more than 100 countries for a vacation, all for a fraction of the cost.
The AFVC books your stay based on a “space available” program which means you’ll be enjoying these properties during the off-season. That way, you can avoid crowded tourist traps and seasonal prices. But, there is more than one way to book – so let’s explore your booking options with AFVC a bit more.
How Does It Work?
The most common way to use AFVC is by using the “space available” program, or Space-A. It offers the excess inventory at the Wyndham properties in your preferred destination for a 7-night stay. You’ll get the whole week for only $349.00*.
There are also High-Demand stays you can choose which offer a wider range of accommodation options including stays over the holidays, more sought-after resorts, and larger units.
You can also book shorter stays if you can’t stay the whole week, but for the most part, you’ll still be paying the fixed $349.00 price for your vacation. It’s still a fantastic deal even if you only stay four, five, or six nights, but if you can, the most money-saving option is to stay the whole week.
Other booking options include last-minute vacation stays and Resort Vacation Certificates (RVCs) which you can purchase and use as vouchers at eligible resorts.
Units become available anywhere from three to 360 days in advance of your expected arrival. So, whether you’re the ultimate planner or you do everything at the last minute, the AFVC makes organizing a military family vacation as easy as can be.
Who Qualifies to use AFVC?
The best part about membership to the AFVC is that it’s free to join. You just have to be eligible. If you meet one of the following requirements, you’ll be able to enjoy the perks of the AFVC:
- You’re a current, veteran, or retired member of the U.S. military, National Guard, Reserves (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard)
- Gold Star Families meaning you’re the surviving spouse or dependents of a military service member who was killed in the line of duty
- Civilian employees of the Department of Defense (appropriated, non-appropriated, or retired)
- Immediate family members of all of the above (spouses, parents, or children)
Also, as long as you are an eligible AFVC member who is at least 21 years old, you are allowed to bring non-eligible travel companions.
The reservation must be in your name and your companions must not exceed the maximum capacity of your accommodation. Plus, in some situations, you may even be able to book multiple rooms in your name to accommodate more non-eligible travel companions as long as you are traveling with them.
What Kind of Accommodation Does AFVC Offer?
The AFVC offers a huge variety of accommodation types which are most often timeshare-style condominiums. In destinations throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, and South America, you’ll typically have access to:
- A full kitchen with refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and microwave
- A washer and dryer
- Balconies or patios
- Various amenities like recreational facilities, swimming pools, fitness centers, game rooms, gift shops, restaurants, and organized activities
Some AFVC accommodation even offers golf or skiing and you can also book local area attraction tickets for an all-around amazing military vacation at unbeatable prices.
Also, if you’re the type of family who loves all-inclusive resorts, the AFVC can help you book those as well.
If you require accommodation for special needs, you’ll need to contact the AFVC at 1-800-724-9988 before you complete your booking. From there, customer service will be able to book accommodation in your preferred destination that can take care of your needs.
What Are the Cancellation Policies?
Depending on how you booked your stay, there are different cancellation policies.
If you booked a Space-A stay, the following cancellation fees apply:
- If you cancel your booking 61 or more days before your scheduled check-in date, you will be charged 30% of the reservation subtotal.
- If you cancel your booking between 15 and 60 days before your scheduled check-in date, you will be charged 50% of the reservation subtotal.
- If you cancel your booking 14 days or less before your scheduled check-in dates, you will be charged 100% of the reservation total.
If you booked a High Demand or Short Stay, the following cancellation fees apply:
- If you cancel your booking 61 or more days before your scheduled check-in date, you will be refunded 100% of the reservation total.
- If you cancel your booking between 15 and 60 days before your scheduled check-in date, you will be charged 25% of the reservation subtotal.
- – If you cancel your booking 14 days or less before your scheduled check-in dates, you will be charged 100% of the reservation total.
If you booked a Last-Minute Vacation Stay, the following cancellation fees apply:
- If you cancel your booking 15 or more days prior to your scheduled check-in date, you will be charged 50% of the reservation subtotal.
- If you cancel your booking 14 days or less prior to your scheduled check-in dates, you will be charged 100% of the reservation total.
If you purchased a Resort Vacation Certificate (RVC), there will be no refunds. All sales of RVCs are final, non-transferrable, and non-refundable.
As you can see, the Armed Forces Vacation Club is doing incredible things to help military families take the vacations they deserve. From free membership to unbeatable rates, there’s no reason why everyone in the military shouldn’t take advantage of this perk.
Now the question is, where will you go?!