You’re ready to head out on that summer road trip, cross-country PCS or final move away from military life. You’ll squeeze more stuff than you really need into every crevasse of the car, and then somehow fit in the dog, the kids, your service member, 17 kinds of snacks, a map and some awesome road tunes.
As you plan your trip you can still keep in mind your military benefits — and how they can fit into that road trip life. Here are a few great military benefits to take on the road.
Military Benefits for Your Summer Road Trip
1. Travel by military lodge, resort or campground. Most if not all military bases come equipped with some kind of cheap lodging. During peak PCS season like the summer, lodging that can be booked in advance usually is. But many facilities have last-minute rooms set aside, and if you’re willing to play it by ear you can try for one of those. Most bases also have campgrounds, and if you’re not in need of RV hook-ups, there is likely a tent site or “dry” camp area available for the asking. Before you hit the road figure out what military base — even one that isn’t in your service — may by close to where you want to stop and look into their reservation policy. Military lodges and campgrounds are typically more affordable than other options and have well-kept amenities.
2. Stock up at the commissary or hit the gas station. During any given road trip we inevitably pass some out of the way military base. We love to use this opportunity to swing by the commissary for some cheap groceries to restock our meat collection in the cooler or get gas at AAFES. Sometimes it’s a little bit of the way, but we find that the overall savings makes it worth it.
3. Rent from MWR. If you’re returning to your current base after your road trip, your local MWR may have great rental options to make your adventure even more fun. Campers and RVs book out early, but kayaks, camping supplies and other items may be available last minute. It’s at least worth looking into.
4. Take a break at a Blue Star Museum. While not a benefit from the Defense Department, the annual Blue Star Museums program through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Blue Star Families gives free admission to military families at thousands of museums nationwide between Memorial Day and Labor Day. My family has been known to look up participating nearby towns from the road and take previously unscheduled pit-stops when we find one. It’s a great way to stretch legs and see some of the local culture wherever you are traveling.
5. Hit up a National Park. This is easily my favorite travel-related military benefit. Through another non-DoD benefit, military families can visit National Parks for free all year long thanks to the Department of the Interior. Get all the details here for receiving a free America the Beautiful park pass.
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