Budget & Military-Friendly Vacation Ideas

Military Friendly Vacations

By Guest Contributor and Military Spouse, Missy Lum

Nothing says summer vacation like your social media feed! Beach houses, amusement parks, cruises, and European tours abound. As a single-income, active-duty military family, our vacations usually look a bit different than those we see on social media. Our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, said it best, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” This is especially true when planning low-budget vacations. But vacations don’t have to be costly to be high quality. 

If you find yourself trying to save money this summer, here are a few low-budget, military-family-friendly ideas: 

Military Resorts

These resorts are typically tax-free and slightly lower in cost than those in the local area. Rates are based on rank. There are a few overseas and a handful stateside. 


The military boasts of beautiful RV campgrounds around the US. These campgrounds, like military hotels, offer rates based on rank. Many have tent sites and some have rental cabins. Check out the local sales pages. Many installations have a community of RVers actively trying to rent RVs! 


This term became popular during COVID, but it offers a great alternative to a costly vacation. Take a day trip, go hiking, rent kayaks, paddle boards, or a boat for the day from the local outdoor recreation office. Live close to a national park? Military entrance passes are free! State parks offer day passes for a low cost. Take a day or two to explore. Staying at home doesn’t mean boring! 

Splitting a Rental

One summer while in California, our friends from Texas met us halfway in Arizona. We split the cost of the rental. We found a great place with a pool, hot tub, games, and lots of outdoor activities. Get creative! Try a beach house or houseboat. Spend time with family and friends for half the cost!

Utilize a PCS and TDY

This has been our favorite way to take long extended vacations. The Army recently gave us 5 days to move from California to Louisiana. We took 10 and hit 7 national parks on our way. Five of those days, food and travel were covered – so we were able to trade a stressful PCS for an incredible family vacation. 

Visit the Local Travel Office

Every military installation has a travel office. Go check it out! This is an excellent resource for all the military discounts in the area.

Even though many of our trips were considered low-budget, we never felt like we were lacking when it came to vacations. Have you found a low-budget vacation idea that works for your family? If so, drop your suggestions on our Community Wins-Days page so we can share them with others.

Missy Lum is a proud Army spouse of 18 years. She has made a home with 12 different floor plans and traveled the world with her favorite soldier, 2 amazing teenagers, and larger-than-life dogs.

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