I have received compensation for this post from TravelCenters of America. All opinions and work are my own.
Planning Vacations as a Military Family
“They took away my weekend pass.” He said.
“What? How is that possible? We are leaving tomorrow!”
I couldn’t believe what he was saying. We had been in Germany just about two months and we had planned our first trip. We were going to take the train to Salzburg and meet up with a friend of mine that live in Austria. We would spend two nights in Salzburg exploring the city. Salzburg was the first city on my Germany bucket list. And now my husband tells me he can’t go.
Little did I know that this can happen. In our case, I was able to put my son in hourly for the next day. My husband picked him up after work and stayed with him while I went on ahead and met my friend in Austria. My friend and I had a great time but we lost money on the train tickets and I always wonder what that trip could have been like.
Months later I was sitting at the base travel agent getting ready to buy tickets to California. I had probably asked my husband about ten times if it was okay to buy them. He was coming home from deployment and then we were going to fly to California for a month. If I bought the tickets and the dates changed, we would be out money. I was so worried that his homecoming date would change yet again. He assured me that they had assured them that this is when their leave would be and we were okay to buy tickets. So I did, I worried the whole time but I did and we were able to go to California as planned.
One of the truths about military life is that plans are never set in stone until they happen.
There are many reasons why there could be delays. Leave can be canceled or changed. So what can a military family to in order to plan a vacation? How can you make plans for anything without running the risk of losing money? What are you to do?
So what can a military family do in order to plan a vacation? How can you make plans for anything without running the risk of losing money? What are you to do?
Over the years I have learned the hard way about what you can do and what you should do when you are a military family who wants to plan a vacation. I hope these tips can help you to military proof your vacation plans…
1. Know that things can change. One thing you have to do is know that things can change. Know that you might have to change your dates around or deal with canceled leave. Knowing this is a possibility ahead of time will help you deal with the disappointment a little better when a cancellation or delay happens. I had no idea they could take away your leave after you booked your trip, but that is what happened. After that, I knew that things could change, even at the last-minute.
2. Find good companies. I have learned that if you can go with companies that allow you to change your dates for free or for a low price, do so. This isn’t always possible but before you book anything to find out what you would have to do to change your dates. That way you will know what you will be dealing with if plans change. Some companies might even accept deployment orders as a reason for why you are having to change the date.
3. Be flexible on your dates if you can. If possible, keep your dates open-ended. This is possible if you are visiting family and don’t have to book anything. Let your family know that the dates are tentative and you are not 100% sure those will be the actual dates you are there. This will help with any expectations your family has about when they will see you.
4. Have a backup plan. Always have a backup plan. What would you do if your spouse’s leave was cancelled? Would you go on the trip without your spouse? Would you postpone for another time? Cut the trip short? By having a plan you will know what your next step is if things change.
5. Don’t tell the kids. For the love, don’t tell your kids. I know that is hard for some people, I want to tell my kids the minute we have plans to go anywhere. But a lot of kids won’t understand that changing things last-minute is how the military works. You don’t want to have to deal with a child that thought they were going to their favorite amusement park and then they were not.
Speaking of traveling…as it is summertime right now, a lot of you will be out on the roads taking vacations. I wanted to let you know about how TravelCenters of America are honoring Active Military and Veterans. For six weeks this summer travel season, customers are encouraged to visit TravelCenters of America LLC (TravelCenters TA® and Petro Stopping Centers®) to support military heroes.
TravelCenters is honoring the sacrifice of active military personnel and veterans by encouraging restaurant guests to order a meal in support of the National Military Family Association (NMFA), a nonprofit that works to strengthen and protect military families. From June 28 to August 5, participating Country Pride and Iron Skillet locations will donate $1.00 to the NMFA for each entrée ordered from a select group of menu items.
How great is that?