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Getting There Is Half the Fun

June 18, 2009
By Henry Kenyon

The vacation season traditionally begins with the end of spring. Tight economic times are forcing many families and individuals to reassess their travel goals, but the World Wide Web offers a variety of options. Active-duty military personnel enjoy some advantages in being able to access reduced fares and discounts for lodging. But even civilians can take advantage of the Web to find trips off the beaten path.

Military Travel Store
This travel service is designed to provide military personnel with access to travel for vacations, rest and recreation, or emergency and dependent travel. The service provides credit and credit plans for individuals and families either planning trips or who need to travel. Visitors to the site fill out a form detailing their desired travel itinerary or vacation. The service claims that its representatives will work to find the lowest-cost flights and lodging while working out a payment plan to fit the traveler's budget. The site also offers military discounts on hotels and car rentals. A list of discount vacation packages for destinations such as Las Vegas, Hawaii and Cancun is also available on the Travel Store's home page.

Military Hops.com
Space Available (Space-A) travel on military flights allows military personnel to travel for free. This site provides a list of resources for locating Space-A travel resources and other travel-related needs such as car rentals and lodging. However, the site warns that Space-A travel can be unpredictable and subject to a variety of factors such as a lack of seats or aircraft being diverted to meet operational needs. The resources include links and descriptions of dedicated Space-A sites and official government sites such as Air Mobility Command, which provides contact information for Air Force flight terminals. Other resources include Space-A flight schedules located on the Joint Operational Support Airlift Center's home page (note that these schedules can only be viewed from computers at government facilities or .mil computers), and links to bidding travel services such as Priceline.com and Hotwire.com.

Veterans Holidays
Active-duty and retired military personnel can get Space Available discounts for rental condominiums at resorts (this is different from Space-A air travel) through this site. Veterans Holidays is a space-available program offering veterans the opportunity to rent space at resorts worldwide for low rates. To participate, visitors must register online for approval. The site features two search engines for space-A rentals and high-demand rentals (weekly resort condominiums in high-demand locations during peak season) which allow a range of locations and options to be accessed.

Military.com
A part of the larger Military.com site supporting active-duty and retired military personnel and their families, this travel page features a variety of affordable vacation ideas. Visitors can select from an extensive list of discounted hotels, flights, car and condominium rentals, museum visits and resort packages. The site also features links to military lodging and Space-A information, and links to blogs and discussion pages about military travel.

Roadside America.com
Sometimes the best way to travel is just get in the car and drive. This site highlights the quirky side of road trips in the United States and Canada. Travelers interested in finding the offbeat can use Roger, the site's search tool to find interesting trips and locations. A blog page lists new locations and photographs submitted by travelers and highlights wonders such as the world's tallest statue of Abraham Lincoln in Ashmore, Illinois, or the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History (formerly the National Atomic Museum) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Adventure Travel Company
Travelers seeking something different may be interested in this site, which provides small tours, custom itineraries and independent adventure opportunities in exotic places. Travel packages include tours of wildlife parks in Africa, hiking in Nepal, and tours of central Europe and Asia. Trips can be customized to range from luxury travel to camping. Another interesting feature of the site: long-term travel packages that allow people to spend a year abroad traveling, volunteering with not-for-profit organizations, working or teaching English.

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