As my bio mentions, I come from a military family. One of the best pieces of advice that was given to me from my parents was to never lose out on vacation time. When I graduated from college, I took that advice to heart and made an effort to travel someplace new every year.
It didn’t change when I met my spouse. Although he was a little skeptical at first, we’ve been able to successfully vacation at least once a year since we started dating. My parents shared valuable tricks that have allowed us to vacation despite the military influence.
I know it’s hard to believe because we’ve heard so many different horror stories. In fact, my own vacation plans have been thwarted due to a short-notice TDY and unexpected field exercise. But, the important thing to note is that it’s always worth a try and don’t get discouraged.
With the right planning and flexibility, you can create unforgettable vacations, despite military annoyances!
Consider these travel tips that have been tested by my parents and myself:
1. Don’t be afraid of planning ahead.
As a rule of thumb, my spouse and I like to map out a year in advance. It sounds crazy, right? But, it’s worked out great for us in the last 5 years.
We booked our Alaska cruise a year ahead of time. Military families can benefit from early bird deals in addition to military discounts. Yes, it’s a little scary, especially when you know things can change at a moment’s notice. That leads me to my next important point.
2. Always buy the travel insurance!
My spouse and I never book without it. Remember that Alaska cruise I mentioned? Well, we had to change the date two times before we actually left for our vacation.
Travel insurance gives you the flexibility to change dates without a hitch. Be sure you read the terms carefully to make sure you have the right type of protection for your vacation. We always make sure that if it gets to the point of not knowing when we could use it, the credit could still be there for us to use at any time.
During our Alaska vacation, we only had to pay the difference of our original sail date to our new one. Because of all the discounts we landed early on, the slight increase didn’t put a dent in our budget.
3. Make the most of block leave.
Depending on your assignment or location, military members can get a sense of when some breathing room comes their way. My spouse seems to get breathing room during the summer and winter months. He typically likes to take at least a week off at those times, so we aim to schedule vacations at that time.
In the last 2 years, we’ve got to go explore a new location along with spending the holidays with family. This past year, we celebrated the New Year and quickly jetset to Vegas to spend the next 5 days with my parents.
4. Plan a PCS vacation.
So far, my spouse and I are 2-2. We’ve PCSed two times together and have taken two vacations. Our first one was a PCS road trip from New York to Arizona. We mapped out a special route for ourselves that included visits through Texas.
Our last PCS is when we went on our honeymoon.
Yes, it can be done and it really doesn’t matter when you do it. My spouse was coming from an overseas tour and took a full month of leave. We moved all of my household goods and then flew out of our new duty station to cruise out of Puerto Rico.
5. Don’t be afraid of short-term planning either.
My spouse had use it or lose it vacation time a couple years ago, so we were encouraged to take time off. I came across an email with last-minute vacation deals and passed it along to my spouse.
If he had time to use, why not use it on a beach? We quickly booked another getaway as we were waiting for our Alaska cruise as a matter of fact. We couldn’t resist because the price was right and it was for the right amount of days off.