Last-Minute Vacation Ideas for Military Families

Even if you don't have long to plan, Navy Federal Credit Union has some ideas to help you make the most of your vacation while staying on budget.

By Navy Federal June 14, 2018

Everyone needs a vacation—time to relax, reconnect with family and let go of the stress of work. However, between budget constraints, the need to schedule around deployments, permanent change-of-station moves and field training exercises, military families need value-priced vacation ideas that can be planned on short notice. Try these ideas to help you unwind.

Visit a National Park

American national parks are some of the most famous nature reserves in the world, and annual entrance passes for active military personnel and their families are free. Bringing your own camping gear can make for an amazing getaway that goes easy on your vacation budget. Not every state has a large, nature-rich national park, but that could be a great excuse to explore the states near you. You can see a complete list of national parks on the National Park Service website. If you’re going to visit a park, be sure to call ahead to see if there are open camp grounds and if you need a reservation.

Be sure to check out your local state parks as well. The state you live in could have its own treasure trove of natural hideaways and trails for you and your family to explore.

Experience Your Local Culture

Have you ever been a tourist in your own city? Visiting your local museums, galleries and performing arts centers can inspire you with new perspectives and experiences. You may not end up traveling very far physically, but when you can look at your hometown with new eyes, it may feel like you traveled around the world in your mind. Spending part of your travel budget on local events like concerts, sports games and comedy shows adds a lot of variety to your vacation, too. The on-base ITT office can help military families and veterans get tickets to events, shows and games for a much lower price.

Visit an Amusement Park

With all the rollercoasters, spinning wheels, brightly colored shaved ice, giant stuffed animals and carnival games, every family member can find something they’ll enjoy. Many amusement parks offer multiple-day passes so you can save money on the per-day cost. Check individual amusement parks for military discounts, too, or find a list at

Hit the Road

A road trip is a relatively travel budget-friendly way to spend your time off, especially if you need a change of scenery. With no air fares to purchase, it’s easy to schedule at a moment’s notice. You can plan a course to see friends, family, events, monuments, new destinations and anything else you want. Other than gas and food, lodging will be your main expense. If all the vacation ideas above sound good, a road trip might be the ideal way to combine them all.

If you’re planning a vacation on a budget and in little time, you can do a lot to relax, have fun and bond as a family. Using your rewards credit card for vacation expenses allows you to earn rewards that you can apply to your next vacation. One popular option for military families to travel at little to no cost is on a Space-Available flight. While jet-setting on vacation for free may seem like a dream opportunity, flexibility is important, as there may be complications to doing so, including availability, destinations and possible delays.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.