Military service members are offered a substantial amount of leave time in comparison to the civilian sector. (The problem is finding the right time to use the leave hours.) When vacation time does because available, planning a vacation for your military family doesn’t have to be stressful with the following tips.

Plan early (but be flexible)
The service member should submit a leave request (or leave chit for Navy folks) as soon as dates become available. Of course Christmastime and the summer will always be popular and the command may decline the leave request due to mission requirements but if you’re one of the first ones in there, it might help your chances. Another tip is give a few days cushion if your dates have to adjust.

Visit your MWR
The ticket and travel office of your MWR could have some great insights and deals to your vacation. Some even offer services to plan your whole itinerary.

Investigate on your own
However, you should always research the trip and excursions you want to do. Read reviews online. Post in your local facebook groups for advice.

Consider nearby duty stations
Did you know some hotels around the world are for the military? Hotels like Shades of Green In Orlando, FL, and the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki, can save you money and are optimum spots for vacations. You can also check out on-base hotels or cabins for availability as well.

Pack early and light

One of the most stressful times during traveling is get all of the last-minute details together. Don’t let packing be one of them. Reserve a spot in the house for luggage and dedicate some time in advance to pack all necessities that can be packed early.

Where you stay makes a difference
Do you want a hotel or perhaps a suite or rent out someone’s house? Do you want to be in the center of things or a little farther out for some peace and quiet? Consider everyone’s input, which leads me to my next point…

Decide on a family schedule
As a family, decide what the intent of the vacation is. Do you want to relax? explore? Both? Do you guys want to spend the whole time doing family things?

Plan out some meals
I like to leave some meals down to just adventure. If you’re in the moment, feel free to stop in to a cool-looking restaurant. However I do like to pick out a few restaurants before hand that I have to go to. This summer, one of those restaurants would be Country Pride and Iron Skillet from TravelCenters of America, LLC. From June 28 to August 5, participating Country Pride and Iron Skillet locations will donate $1.00 to the National Military Family Association (NMFA), a nonprofit that works to strengthen and protect military families, for each entrée ordered from a select group of menu items. IT a great opportunity to get a meal in and support our troops. More info here.


Build in some downtime
Even if you want to spend the whole time exploring, it’s a nice break to build in some breaks otherwise tensions are bound to build.

Manage work expectations
Sometimes we can’t seem to turn off our work brains even during vacations. This is especially try is one or both you are in the military. Make a rule to only check email 1-2 times on a certain day and no more.

I have received compensation for this post from TravelCenters of America. All opinions and work are my own.