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This summer we decided to take a summer road trip. We recently made a permanent change of station near Dallas, TX for a special assignment working with another government agency. There is so much to do around here! 

 

We were excited that our summer vacation budget would get a little rest and we could save up for our big trip next year. Still, we would need some funding. This past spring our neighborhood had a huge garage sale. I decided the money from it would be our road trip funds. That is how I convinced my husband and girls to participate. Go Mom!

 

There are many ways to save on your road trip. Below I’ve provided you tips to save on your vehicle expenses, your lodging, and of course the activities that you’ll do along the way. Feel free to add your tips so we call can share!

 

VEHICLE

  • Get a gas app – USAA Member Community Manager Briana Hartzell says her favorite is Gas Buddy. I checked it out and was impressed with the fact I could “find gas near me” or search by city or ZIP code and get a list of gas stations sorted by price.
  • Save on your rental car – USAA members can save on rental cars from Avis®, Budget®, and Hertz®.
  • Don’t be pack rats - An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your mileage by up to 2 percent.
  • For other ways to save on fuel economy - slowing down, checking tire pressure, etc. – visit the official resource FuelEconomy.gov.

 

LODGING

  • Almost every hotel chain – and even most camp sites - has a “government rate” of which you can take advantage. You can also take advantage of military community lodging resources at DOD Lodging
  • It’s a small military world so make sure you scope out military friends along your road trip route that you might be able to pay a visit for the night. After all, getting to see an old friend and having a free place to land is always a good deal.

 

ACTIVITIES

  • Do a simple search of the internet using keywords “free activities (area where you’re visiting)” and see a long list of activities in any area of the country and overseas.
  • Visit your installation travel office. They offer lists and brochures on many local attractions.
  • Find the different military installations along your route (here’s a map of them all) and visit/call them to see what offers they have in the area.
  • Pay a visit to Guide to Military Travel  where Navy wife and travel professional Erica Vest has a great list of discounts for military from Anheuser-Busch’s Waves of Honor® to Disney® and more!
  • Peruse the list of Blue Star Museums all offering free admission to military families.
  • Looking for space available travel deals or resort vacation packages? Look no further than Armed Forces Vacation Club.
  • Take advantage of apps like Living Social® or Groupon® for savings on activities. You can even search the regions along your route.

 

There are so many ways to save for military families we shouldn’t be paying full price for anything on our road trips. All it takes is a little prior proper planning and our road trip will be set with perfect performance!

 

INTERACT

What creative ways have you earned money for a vacation?

What tips do you have to save at the pump?

Where do you find discounts for lodging or activities?

6 Comments
knobonk
Occasional Visitor

When I was active duty, we always looked for lodging on bases wherever we traveled. It was always nice, always safe, and always cheap--can't go wrong there! Since I separated, here are a few more ways we've come up with to save money on travel (although, somehow it always ends up costing more than I thought by the time we get home!):

 

1. Lodging: Armed Forces Vacation Club is tough to beat...if you can find space-A rentals, you can get luxury accommodations for $350/week in some very nice places. Also, if you need to stay at a regular hotel, check out their vacation deals page for a discount code for all Wyndham hotel chains. It will save you 20% and keep you from having to pay in advance.

 

2. Food: Before hitting the road, pack a cooler with lunch meat, cheese, fruit cups, etc. Any meal you can eat out of the cooler instead of at a restaurant will be worth it. The kids always loved picnics at the roadside rest stops too. Also, consider making your lodging reservations include a kitchen, kitchenette, or at least a fridge/microwave. We've saved tons on food with an AFVClub condo with a full kitchen just by making a grocery list, heading to the store, then cooking meals in the condo most of the week!

 

3. Activities: If you can stand firm and are willing to give up a little time, consider a timeshare presentation. One recent one got us a half-day dune buggy rental and four passes to the "Out of Africa Wild Animal Park" near Sedona for $90. That was 90 minutes well spent!

Guest Author
Guest Author

Knobonk,

THANK YOU for the comment - great information!

ChuckFinley
Contributor
Tara, It will be helpful if you can pass this along to the office that handles affinity relationships with external companies. My email is in my profile. We are currently out of town having used USAA link to a national rental car companies that likes the color yellow. The experience has been horrible. The rate that was quoted was great. I pre paid for the car a week in advance. When I arrived to get the car the branch manager said, "I guess that is my mistake, since you had already paid for the car but we have no full size cars. The only thing we have is that (tiny, micro sized import)" and it will take us three hours to get another car if you still want one". After I pushed how poor a and irresponsible this was they identified a Jeep at the airport 10 minutes away. She said I could have it at the same rate (we will see when the bill comes) and that I could have a$35 credit due to the inconvenience (which won't cover the difference in fuel efficiency expense compared to what we should have, but I accepted it). They said they would deliver it to my house, 5 minutes away. An hour and 45 minutes later they were finally there, at which point the rep, stabbing in front of my house asked if we were going out of town. How unprofessional and creepy to set up a robbery!!! The jeep is dinged and scratched up all over, and has more mileage than any rental car I've had in at least 20 years. I think it is time to review how USAA members are treated when USAA endorses an extensor company.
ChuckFinley
Contributor
*standing and external .. darn auto correct
Guest Author
Guest Author

Chuck,

I am SO SORRY for your experience. I cannot even imagine. With that said, I will forward this. I had a similar experience with a different rental agency and I took it all the way to the top with the said business. I did let USAA know how they handled it.

 

Additionally, I think they'll need information to verify who you are, the reservation, etc. in order to move forward. Is there a way you would be able to take the time to talk with a member services representative? I believe it would be beneficial to "enact change" that they heard your story too. If so, please see what they can do for you by calling 210-531-USAA (8722)or 800-531-USAA. 

 

Guest Author
Guest Author

Chuck, I ran your comment up the flag pole and USAA tried to reach out to you however, here in the forums your user name is not tied to your member information. Can you  please click here to provide us with additional detail and your member information. You can also reach a service specialist at 1-800-531-8722. That way they can try to get this addressed. Thank you!