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Vacation tips

Save money and time

Space-A flights can be an excellent way for the family to travel. But you must be prepared and in the right place at the right time. Photo credit:

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Spring is near and you deserve a vacation.

To get the most for your money, whether you're active-duty, retired or a veteran, take advantage of the following opportunities.

All Veterans

Take advantage of the Veterans Holidays (VH) Program, which offers seven-night resort stays during off-peak dates for pennies on the dollar. To maximize the VH benefit, subscribe to its email newsletter or follow on social media. For more information, visit

Visit the soldiers, sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and airmen's (SSMA) Club, a nonprofit hostel/hotel in midtown Manhattan that offer all servicemembers a bed for as little as $65 per night, per person in its gorgeous, historic building. The recently renovated building is in a quiet neighborhood. For more information, check out

Airbnb is a free-to-use website that connects people who have extra rooms (and apartments or houses) with budget-conscious travelers who would rather save money than pay extra for a brand-name hotel. To get the most from the site, look for incentives for first-time users. To learn more, take a peek at

Make use of federal and state parks and forests. Even if camping in a tent is not preferred, many federal and state parks have cabins or rooms available for rent at cheap rates. As an added bonus, current military (and dependents of deployed military) can get an annual pass that's good for free admission to all national parks and federal recreational lands. If intrigued, type in

Active-Duty Military, Retirees

Make use of Space-A. This benefit extends to current and retired military, and it can be a great way to travel by plane. Check out the Air Force's Air Mobility Command website to see what category of travel you are eligible for. It's a matter of getting some paperwork together and trying to be in the right place at the right time. If you are open to going where the wind takes you, this is a great way to save money on a worldwide vacation.

Utilized Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) resorts are cheap and offer great lodging options located in spots like Hawaii, Germany and Japan. Check out

Look for military lodging where you're going. In many areas there is a military base nearby. Take advantage of the military housing available to current and retired military. Be sure to book rooms in advance.

And last, use military discounts. If you are active-duty, just about every airline offers free checked baggage. Many lodging and entertainment options offer these discounts to retirees, too.  

Four Useful Smartphone Apps

TripAdvisor: This lists hotels, restaurants, flights and general information on every city in the world.

Lonely Planet: A library of information on locations from the exotic to the mundane resides here.

Yelp: This app provides recommendations on all kinds of businesses including restaurants and hotels.

Uber: A taxi-like service offered by independent drivers, it is often cheaper and more convenient for those needing to get their vacation underway.

Credit: Marc Acton and The American Legion magazine contributed to this article. 

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