By Amanda Huffman
Contributing Writer

Vacations can be so much fun, although they can often be expensive and sometimes stressful, as well. You never really know what you’re in for until you go, but I have four ideas to help you save money on your adventures that will help your vacation budget go as far as possible — plus, a fifth tip to remind you that if you have something you are dreaming for you should start saving for it so it can one day become a reality. 

One great thing about being a military family and PCS moves is that you get to live in new locations. My family has lived in New Mexico, Ohio, Virginia, and California, which are unique and different places. In each location, there was something new to discover. It might have been historical places or nearby national parks. The fact is each and every place you live has something new to discover, even if it is just visiting the local zoo, park, or museum in your city. There is so much to see at each new duty station and a staycation at a location that is new to you can be a lot of fun. 

A staycation is great, but there might be a lot to explore just a few hours away. When we lived in Ohio there was so much to see and do within a four-hour drive. It was so fun to get to visit all around the small town of Dayton where we were stationed. While your location may limit you on the amount of places you can travel to, you will always be able to find something fun to discover at each location.

It doesn’t matter if you live in a remote location or if you are in a big city with a lot of things to do, a road trip is always a great option for a family vacation. Not only do you get to spend time together, but there are also so many great things you can discover along the way. I love using the RoadTripper app that shows you things to do along your route – things you could easily miss otherwise as you drive past them, not ever knowing they’re there. SpouseLink offers several tips to help make your road trip a success, so if you are looking to plan a road trip for fun. You can even turn your PCS move into a road trip. Just check out this link.

One of the challenges of military life is finding time to see family. Many military families do not live close enough to their extended family members to see them on a regular basis. Personally, we have spent plenty of our vacation budget on a plane trip home to see family. But because it can be expensive to travel  home to see family, we also try to make the trip a vacation for ourselves. 

One way we do this is by not flying directly into the airport closest to our family. My hometown does have a small airport; however, flights there are more expensive than to the larger airports to the north and south. We book flights to the less expensive airport and then spend time in that location before driving to see family.

The four options above really are for when you are on a budget and trying to find a way to make a vacation happen without spending a lot of money, but if you can afford a bigger vacation, go for it. Our family tries to plan for larger vacations every couple of years. We save for this by putting aside money on the years we don’t travel and by following our own advice – exploring our current location and doing small roadtrips to places close by. 

Hopefully, these tips will help you make your various vacation dreams possible, whatever your budget.

Amanda is a military veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer who served on a combat deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career in the Space Force. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast. There she shares the stories of women who have served or are serving in the military. The podcast has over 200 episodes and over 100K downloads. Amanda is also an author and has published two books. Her first book, Women of the Military tells the stories of 28 military women who served in the military. Her second book, A Girl’s Guide to Military Serviceis the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Winner for Teen Non Fiction. It is a guide for high school girls considering military service to help them build a strong foundation for their future career. She also works as a freelance writer and has been featured in a number of military publications including The War, Military Families Magazine, Clearance Jobs, Military Spouse Magazine, and more. 

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