My Future Lies Beyond the Yellow Brick Road —Elton John
Joining the military is one of the most significant accomplishments in my life. As a U.S. Army soldier, I served three years in Vilseck, Germany, and a year in Iraq. The military provided me the opportunity to travel to places I had never been, such as Germany with the 94th Engineer Combat Battalion, and Iraq with the 130th Engineer Brigade. Although my passion for the military ran deep, I decided it was time to change in my combat boots for my ruby red slippers.
While stationed in Germany, I met my husband. We were both active-duty and enjoyed our time in Germany – an experience I can only describe as being somewhere over the rainbow. The authentic food, the deep history, and the language were right out of a fairy tale. While stationed in Vilseck, Germany, I said my final good-byes to the military, and at the same time, married, and welcomed our first child.
The transition from soldier to a military spouse and then to mom brought on new emotions. I begin to feel the slow separation from my military family, notably as my husband and comrades, I served with over the years prepared for their second tour to Iraq, this time without me.
My life in Germany was not the same, and I decided it was time to head back home to my first family. With my daughter in tote, I clicked my heels three times (clicked purchase on a random travel site), and we were back in the United States. That easy!
My anxiousness to travel with a five-month-old munchkin for an 11-hour flight ended up to be the most straightforward task in my life. Fortunately, my daughter turned out to be a great traveler and not the nightmare many passengers fear when seated behind or infront of an infant. Smitten with my little angel, those courageous enough to sit next to us had great hearts only a wizard would have given them. And I was even able to catch a few ZZZZZs on the flight while she rested.
I am fortunate to be a military spouse and enjoy the memories of serving as an active-duty soldier. Today, I pass on the valuable lessons to other military families hoping to remove fears o the unknown transient lifestyle associated with military life. And one of those areas is travel. Married to an active service member, I face the challenges of planning our family vacations. Individually purchasing airline tickets and make hotel reservations – I never know when my husband’s orders will either be approved or changed.
MilitaryTravelAgent.com has provided relief and solution to my travel challenges. Through discounted tickets, military families can afford to buy their ruby slippers to get home in a few easy clicks. And more so enjoy the benefits of:
No rebooking or change fees
100% refund of an airline ticket if orders are canceled
Free hotel modifications and cancellations
Lowest rates including military savings
Access to vacation packages
There’s No Place Like Home~Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz
Congratulations on your loved one attending basic military training. Joining one of the United States military branches is honorable and opens the door to an exciting life journey. I am proud to be a US Marine Corps veteran and look back at my days in boot camp as a launching pad for the many habits I demonstrate daily in my professional life.
Over the past ten plus years, I have had the honor of supporting the travel needs of the military community, specifically with travel related to boot camp graduation. I want to share a few tips I have discovered over the years in hopes of making your trip to graduation a great experience.
My five big tips are:
Reserve your hotel early
Book your flight through a dependable source
Ensure your flight reservations can be changed or cancelled
Purchase your recruit’s flight if leave is an option after graduation
Plan your trip, so you don’t miss any of the activities
First. Hotels are easy to reserve and often require no deposit and can be canceled within 72 hours before arrival. Unfortunately, many of the hotels located by military bases are limited and book quickly. And in some cases, such as San Diego in the summer months, rates sky-rocket to over $300 per night. In some cases, hotels offer free amenities to military families such as free breakfast, shuttle service to graduation, and late check out.
As a travel agency we have access to all available hotel inventory and any promotions being offered. We recently partnered with Expedia and Booking.com and can often beat any of the rates you find on their sites using our agency accreditation. Use our Hotel Rate Verification tool to make sure you are booking the best rate.
My Recommendation: reserve your hotel the day your recruit leaves for boot training. We will make sure you can cancel or modify the dates with no penalties.
Second. I am a big believer in saving money on flights; however, as a travel agent, I am very familiar with the many pitfalls of booking ‘cheap tickets.’ There are a variety of sources, including online sites, such as Expedia, Priceline, and Kayak that offer cheap fares. These online sites sell millions of tickets and not trained in military travel. With such an important trip you need an agent that has ‘been there, done that.”
Let our agents share their decades of experience working with military families to ensure you are booking the right flight.
My Recommendation: book your tickets through our agency and we will take care of you before, during, and after your trip. All of our agents are veterans or active duty spouses. We will make sure you have the best fare, the right times, and can change your ticket.
Third. Ensure your flight reservations can be changed or refunded. In most cases, the cheapest tickets are booked as Basic Economy and can’t be changed or canceled for any reason. Once you purchase the ticket, you must use it or lose it. And with Basic tickets you are not eligible for seat assignment until you arrive at the airport. And finally, don’t wait to buy your ticket until the 8th week of training. The fares will be extraordinarily high and limited.
My Recommendation: book your flights to graduation once your recruit passes the 3rd week of training. Most recruits’ are acclimated and the chances of them not completing training has reduced greatly.
Book an Economy class ticket which we can change without a fee in case graduation dates change due to injury. And most importantly, when booking through one of our agents, you will receive a 100% refund if your recruit doesn’t complete training.
Four. Purchase your recruit’s flight if leave is an option after graduation. Depending on the branch of service your recruit may receive leave after graduation. For example, the Marine Corps has a mandatory 10-day leave once graduation is complete. The recruit (new Marine) is free to leave once the ceremony is over, which means they need to purchase an airline ticket home and back to training. Active duty members can be booked as a ‘military class’ passenger and benefit from specials fares and perks. However, this is not an option on an online travel site.
My Recommendation: If your budget allows you should book your recruit’s ticket when you purchase your own. This will ensure your new Marine is on your same flight, and second, you will take the worry away from your recruit (they have enough to worry about). Recruits must wait until week 8 or 9 before they have the opportunity to purchase their ticket; and again, fares will be higher and seats on your flight not available. And by the way, we can make sure they are receiving any available military discounts.
Five. Plan your trip, so you don’t miss any of the activities. Most of the graduations offer a variety of events before the actual graduation ceremony. It is essential to schedule your flights accordingly and take advantage of everything offered. There are several options of airports to choose from, and often the distance from the military base will differ.
For example, families attending the Marine Corps graduation in Parris Island can choose between Savannah (60 minutes from the base) or Charleston (90 minutes from the base).
My Recommendation: Let us verify the activities and provide you with the most up-to-date schedule and the best airport. We can search for flights that allow you to arrive with enough time to rent a car and check in to your hotel. In many cases, flights are available shortly after graduation saving you a few dollars by not paying for an extra night. And believe me, your recruit will be ready to head home.
I know this is a lot of information and can seem overwhelming. For that reason, we offer free travel planning and are always available for a call. Don’t go this alone. Let our experienced military agents support your needs and take away your stress.