Palm trees and ocean

Military Travel Resources

When you ask military families about the best things about the military lifestyle, they’ll likely mention the extraordinary people they’ve met along the way and their fantastic travel opportunities. Some travel adventures are PCS-related, of course, but there are a few other ways to enjoy seeing the world with military discounts.

The following programs are valid for military ID holders, so take advantage of your benefits soon — time flies!

1. Space-A Travel: Free (or extremely low-cost) flights to and from Europe, Asia and more sound like pretty sweet military travel perks, right? For many military families, Space-A (available) flights are the foundation of vacation travel they might not be able to afford otherwise.

When available, the Air Mobility Command supplies flights for current and former military members and their families across the country and abroad. However, AMC’s primary job is to conduct military mission flights, so your schedule must be flexible to enjoy Space-A benefits. Itineraries can change in an instant according to mission needs.

Most military families budget for at least one airfare ticket for the service member’s return flight just in case Space-A flights don’t work out. My husband’s schedule hasn’t let us take advantage of free flying yet, which is disappointing because we’re in the National Capital Region, and there are several convenient AMC terminals. It’s something we’re talking about after retirement.

There’s a pretty steep learning curve if you’re just starting to research Space-A benefits. Give yourself plenty of time to understand the ins and outs of the process.

You’ll need to learn about:

  • How to sign up
  • Eligibility priority
  • Documentation
  • Terminal locations and procedures
  • Flight schedules

2.  Armed Forces Recreation Center Resorts: Even if you’re new to military life, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about at least a couple of the resorts in the Armed Forces Recreation Center’s collection. These properties are so popular that they’re regularly booked months and months in advance, often with repeat military family travelers who appreciate the affordability and convenience.

Some families join an “unofficial club” after they’ve stayed at each property worldwide. We’re just one location short, Shades of Green, but we’re revisiting Edelweiss over the holidays this year.

  • Shades of Green (Disney World), Lake Buena Vista, Florida
  • Hale Koa Hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, Garmisch, Germany
  • Dragon Hill, Seoul, South Korea

Like Space-A travel, you must familiarize yourself with each property’s eligibility and pricing structures, but don’t worry; you’ll enjoy each resort’s website. They’re filled with informative and helpful descriptions and how-tos, not to mention amazing photos. If you want more insider information, join one of the many military family social media groups for each property. You’ll learn many hacks to make the most of your vacation planning.

3. American Forces Travel Discounts: Have you ever wished there was a one-stop shop for military discount travel services? There is! The American Forces Travel program, which debuted in 2021 and is operated by MWR and Priceline, offers eligible military families discounted airfare, cruises, hotels, event tickets and trip packages.

Note that before you can search the database for deals, the website verifies your eligibility through a DEERS portal. You’ll enter your birth date, the last four digits of your social security number and your last name. After you’ve been verified, you can search and sort through many airfare and cruise options and read reviews for hotel properties.

One of the best benefits of military life is access to travel. We’re lucky to have so many choices, but it takes some preparation time to become familiar with all the available options. Do yourself a favor and spend time getting to know these programs so you won’t miss out on once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities.

Written By Dawn Smith
Army Spouse

Dawn is an experienced military spouse and freelance writer. When she isn’t writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and Golden Retriever keep her busy with dog walks, home upkeep, travel planning, and chauffeur duties.

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