Are you flying for the holidays? Or already planning your Spring Break vacation?
When you’re traveling on a budget, every single penny counts. As an active service member, retiree or dependent, you qualify for discounts and benefits that you might not even be aware of.
Enjoy these cheap travel tips — for the holiday season and beyond!
Skip the line at customs
Anyone with a DoD ID qualifies for TSA Precheck at the airport. This lets you skip the long line at customs and get to your gate in record time. You can also wear your shoes, belt and jacket through the screening, and your electronics and liquids can stay in your bag.
Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? It’s also a simple process to set up. Though you can’t go straight to the short line with just your military ID, you can qualify for precheck when you book your travel.
All you have to do is enter your DoD identification number into the “Known Traveler Number” (KTN) field. It works for both personal and official travel. The 10-digit number should be located on the back of your common access card (CAC); DoD civilians may have to opt-in through their profile page on milConnect to get their KTN.
Use your KTN whenever you make flight reservations to get automatic TSA Precheck on your boarding pass.
Save time and $$$ when booking your vacation
There are a number of websites that will work with military and veterans to help find the best airfare and accommodations. Consider these top four in your search:
Allied Military Travel
Complete an easy online travel application, and you will be contacted by an Allied agent to go over your options. They will find the most affordable flights and hotels for active duty and retirees. Guaranteed low rates, with a fly now, pay later policy. You can also refer a friend or family member to Allied and earn $100 toward your next trip.
United Military Travel
Travel financing for active duty, retirees, dependents, and more. They offer discounted tickets for domestic and international flights, with no payment down required.
Similar to Allied and United military travel, Military Fares helps you find the best flight deals.
Service members, retirees and their families can use Space-A (Space-Available) flights for domestic and international travel at little to no cost. It can be unpredictable, and it prioritizes emergency travel, but will save you a lot of money.
Go Direct: Airlines that serve you
Many different airlines offer discounts for military personnel. Shop discounted rates and free baggage services from these five airlines:
Exclusive military discounts on travel for active members only. They offer military policies with Delta Vacations on pet travel and more. Active duty is also allowed more free baggage than civilian customers. Family members or partners of a service member injured in war qualify for a discounted military medical emergency flight.
To book a flight and get your discounted rates, call the Delta Military and Government desk at 800-325-1771.
Veterans, active duty, National Guard and Reserve members can sign up for Veterans Advantage. This gives you up to 5% off United flights.
Serving and retired members of the Armed Forces and their dependents are provided with discounted fares to worldwide destinations.
Active duty and dependents are eligible for military discounts (though special rates cannot be booked online). Baggage fees waived for active duty. Call 1-800-I-FLY-SWA for details.
Offers negotiated fares to military personnel and immediate family.
Hotels that won’t break the bank
It’s actually pretty easy to find military-friendly hotels. Even if you’re staying somewhere off this list, don’t be afraid to ask about their discounts. Here’s seven great options for affordable lodging:
Navy Lodges, Air Force Inns, Army Lodging… sound familiar? Most bases will offer lodging for low prices. Do some research on your travel destination, and make sure to call ahead for their reservation policies.
Armed Forces Recreation Centers
ARFCs are available for all service branches, and located at vacation spots around the world. Rates are based on rank, duty status, and of course, room size. Their rooms tend to fill up quickly, too, so make reservations well in advance.
La Quinta Inns & Suites
Active duty, veterans, and family are guaranteed a 12% discount off the best available rate at more than 800 locations across the country.
Discounts of up to 10% for men and women serving in the Armed Forces.
Choice Hotels/Comfort Inn
Active duty, veterans and dependents have guaranteed discounts on one and two person rates for more than 2,700 participating properties. Members enrolled in VetRewards through Veterans Advantage get up to 15% off.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts
Rates depend on the location, but normally include a 10% military family discount and another government or military rate. Hilton encompasses 13 hotel brands that should offer similar discounts, including: Hampton, Garden Inn, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Waldorf Astoria, and more.
Active duty, retired and family receive up to 10% off their already low rates at over 1,400 locations.
Flight? Check. Lodging? Check. You’re all set!
Traveling on a low budget is not only possible, but fairly easy to do as a service member. Many airlines and hotels will appreciate your service by offering discounts on theirs. Take advantage of these low rates, and make the most of your holidays!
“Your DoD ID Can Shorten Your Wait at the Airport.” Transportation Security Administration, 16 June 2017, www.tsa.gov/blog/2016/06/01/your-dod-id-can-shorten-your-wait-airport.