The Omni San Diego offers active and retired military personnel a rate as… (Johansen Krause / Omni Hotels…)
Servicemen and servicewomen have a world of travel bargains available. Here are some areas to explore:
Commercial flights — Contact commercial airlines directly or go to http://www.military.com and enter "military travel center" in the search box in the upper right corner to find available discounts. Some airlines also offer military personnel early boarding privileges and waive baggage fees. Be sure to ask.
Hotels — Military discounts can be as much as 30% at more than 4,000 U.S. hotels. Contact the specific property for its current military deal. The Omni San Diego, for instance, offers active and retired military personnel a rate as low as $131 a night. Mention "government/military." Info: (800) 843-6664, http://www.omnihotels.com. ID may be required at check-in.
Restaurants — Many restaurants offer a 5% military discount (even for fast food). Many offer free meals on Veterans Day and other federal holidays. These aren't highly publicized but can be great deals, so be sure to ask. "Military discounts are found at some chain restaurants, but not all locations participate," says Andrew Schrage, co-owner of MoneyCrashers.com, an online personal finance blog.
Entertainment — Check out the big dogs in entertainment: Disneyland, Disney World, Universal and some Six Flags locations. You should also check out ShadesofGreen.org, about a Disney World resort just for military families (active or retired). It is popular, so you'll need to book early.
Camping — TentsforTroops.org lists parks in 39 states that offer a minimum of two days of free camping or an RV site. Reservations are required and must be made directly with each campground. Military ID is required.
Sightseeing — Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises in New York City (www.circleline42.com) gives free tickets to members of the military (must show valid ID) and half-off sightseeing cruises for military families (for up to four guests per military member).
Skiing — Active-duty members of the military can ski and ride free at Squaw Valley (www.squaw.com) all winter, Sundays through Fridays, excluding a few blackout dates. This deal is also valid at Alpine Meadows ski (www.skialpine.com).
Car rental — Members of the Marine Corps Assn., National Assn. for Uniformed Services, Navy League of the United States, Navy Federal, Veterans Advantage and Veterans of Foreign Wars may get discounts with various car rental companies.
And here are some things to remember: Many discounts are available only to active military personnel. Although a military discount isn't advertised, it may exist. Some discounts are offered at the business owner's discretion.
Always ask about military discounts before making your reservation or paying for your ticket — train, bus, rapid transit, at bridge or tunnel crossings, at the parking garage, at the movie, the show or the restaurant — whatever, whenever or wherever you're traveling. It can't hurt to ask. You've earned it.