This post is sponsored by TravelCenters of America. All opinions and work are the author’s own.
The summertime brings warm weather, drinking ice cold lemonade, and the lust for traveling. I know that, as a military couple, even thinking about wanting to travel for the summer makes your wallet shed a tear. But don’t let the looming thought of spending a ton of money for a vacation keep you from going!
Today I will share vacation tips with a sprinkle of military perks mixed in…because while the military life can have its downside, there are definitely perks to it. Here is some advice for navigating this summer with some money-saving tips and some handy tricks for making your travel smoother and safer.
Stay on base
Yes, I know this is a vacation from everything, but you can get the best bang for your buck by checking if there is a military base nearby your destination. More likely than not, you will be able to stay there and it is almost half the cost of a hotel room.
Remember there are bases all over the world, don’t think you have to just stay stateside! Just from experience, some bases only allow those with orders to stay in their temporary lodging, because they get overcrowded easily. Figure out where you want to go, and call the base lodging ahead of time to see if they have availability.
Try to fit everything in a carry-on bag
When you are on vacation, the last thing you want to do is lug around huge suitcases and worry about tracking down your bags in baggage claim. Challenge yourself and try and fit everything in a carry on! This will allow less stress on tracking down luggage, and more focus on spending time together and enjoying the vacation.
Another bonus is saving money since most airlines charge for checked bags. Most offer free carry-ons, but I would check with the airline website ahead of time just to be sure. Either way, a carry-on is cheaper than checked bags. A trick I like to do is just bring a small purse for my vacation and stuff it into a backpack along with other things I couldn’t fit in my carry-on. This can count as a personal item, and they don’t charge you for that!
Take plenty of pit stops
Avoid sketchy gas stations and always stop somewhere safe, clean, and well-lit. I enjoy going to TravelCenters of America because they are feel so much cleaner and safer than other gas stations. There are a ton of locations, so be sure to check if there is one on your travel route! When travelling, stop as much as you need, because you don’t want to drive while you are tired or for very long periods of time. And it is always nice to stop and pick up some refreshments and food.
Not convinced? This summer, TravelCenters of America are showing also their support to military heroes and the National Military Family Association, a nonprofit that works to strengthen and protect military families. They are honoring our military with a very special donation pledge–and it warms my heart!
From June 28 to August 5, participating Country Pride and Iron Skillet locations will donate $1.00 to the NMFA, for each select entrée ordered.
Don’t forget safety
Being in the military, you have to remember to be cautious even if you are on vacation. Don’t wear your uniform while flying or travelling, and fit in to the surroundings as much as possible. If you are going overseas this summer, try and see what the locals wear and avoid clothing that is “American”.
Don’t over stress and be afraid to vacation, just remember you’re a little more at risk and need to be aware of your surroundings. You can still be a tourist and snap pictures of places; just don’t draw attention to your family. Also, travel with an enclosed bag to deter pick-pockets. Tourists are an easy target because they are distracted by seeing new places.
Take care of any house business
I can’t tell you how many times I almost forgot to put my mail on hold (and one time I did forget, my mailbox was bursting!). Take care of your household things before you leave, such as unplugging everything that would take up power, take care of any arrangements you may have to make for your pets, and have a friend or family member keep an eye on your home. Similarly, don’t write when you are leaving online because this can be a safety concern.
Have a tech-free vacation
This is a challenge I want my family and I to do on our next trip, and I think it is such a great idea: use as little technology as possible. You can accomplish this by purchasing walkie-talkies to keep in contact, if you know you will be splitting up as a group. This will be fun for the kids and easier for you because you won’t have to entrust them with taking one of your phones. Use road maps and learn some great communication, and try to use your cellphone as little as possible.
This is a vacation, and a great time to come closer together as a family! Use car games to interact with each other as an alternative to keeping your face in an iPad or phone screen the whole time. On our next vacation, we plan to put our phones in a Ziploc bag and leave them there. Vacations are a great time to just take your mind off things and focus on those around you.
And my last tip is to just have fun! Enjoy your travelling and vacation this summer! There are perks to being in the military, so be sure you take advantage of the deals you can snag, and some great tips to spending quality family time.
Amy Stratton is an Army wife of almost two years. She loves Mexican food, her puppy, and her husband all a little too much. Amy loves cooking, crafting, and especially thrift store shopping. She is currently blogging about her life as an Army wife on thestrattons.weebly.com. Or you can keep up with her on Instagram, @thestrattons and Pinterest @amystrattonn.