Military Lodging for PCS and Vacation Travel


Budgeting for a PCS move can be tricky when accounting for the days you might be homeless while traveling on the road or waiting for your next home to become available. An inexpensive solution may be to investigate the thousands of rooms the military has available on its installations or in other military lodging options. 

We had a good experience using the Navy Lodge in Monterey, California. The homeowner of our rental home hoped to get back into her house as soon as possible, so we ended up in temporary living space for 10 days before we PCS’d back to the East Coast.

The reservation process was easy and the check-in and out was not a problem. The Navy Lodge was certainly not the Four Seasons, but it absolutely solved our housing needs for the short term and it was actually quite a relief to be there. Unfortunately for us, updating and remodeling had begun the day after we have arrived. The next set of travelers were going to be pleasantly surprised! 

The Popularity of Military Lodging

Timing and pre planning are key to making the best use of these facilities because many families PCS or vacation during the summer and the most popular facilities will be booked months in advance. Because the fees are so reasonable, military lodging is often the first option families consider in part due to the convenience of base amenities and pet friendly policies.

Don’t forget the many opportunities available on base near the military lodging. Exchanges and commissaries will save money, as will leisure ticket offices for excursions near your location.  Medical and dental care as well as pharmacies will also be available if the need arises. 

The worry of stored belongings in trailers or car storage units is also somewhat alleviated because of secure access to the base. It is often a worry for my husband to have our items locked on top of our car while it sits overnight in an unguarded hotel parking lot. It is still necessary to unload the important or irreplaceable things into a room each night, however. 

Central Contact Information for Military Lodging

The frustrating part of military lodging is the fact that each entity or branch handles their own policies differently, so it’s important to be in direct contact with the facility to understand their rules regarding fees, reservation priorities, and cancellations.

Typically, military lodging is available to these groups of travelers:

  • Military and civilian travelers on official orders
  • Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, Federal Government, and DoD personnel on temporary duty
  • Active duty military and families on Permanent Change of Station official orders
  • Active duty and families requesting lodging at on a space-available basis
  • Military retirees and their families
  • Widows/Widowers/Dependents of Retired Military Personnel
  • National Guard and Army Reserve Members and their families

There are other circumstances where guests may qualify for stays, including medical patients or foreign military members.

The DoD seems to be moving in the direction of combining much of the branches’ lodging information at the website Department of Defense Lodging. The Defense Travel Management Office has more information regarding the DoD Defense Lodging website.

The website provides links for reservation help for the following:

  • Air Force Inns
  • Army Lodging
  • Navy Gateway Inns & Suites
  • Marine Corps select bases.   
  • Marine Corps Community Services
  • Inns of the Corps
  • Navy Getaway Inns and Suites
  • Navy Getaways RV Parks and Cottages
  • Navy Lodge

This is an additional list of important websites or phone numbers for each of the branches of military. Remember, each facility is unique and it is important to make direct contact in order to not be disappointed upon arrival.

Armed Forces Recreation Centers

The popular Armed Forces Recreation Centers may also be helpful for those who are traveling on PCS orders and hope to spend vacation time along the way. Armed Forces Recreation Centers (AFRC) have a resort type setting with plenty of vacation experiences, whereas most standard military lodging is not intended for luxury stays.

The resorts are located in in Hawaii, Florida, Germany, and South Korea and provide great relief when traveling in a foreign country. Rates are very reasonable because they are based on pay grade and rank. Although not officially part of the AFRC, The New Sanno in Tokyo provides the same type of feeling of a resort in a home away from home. 

Utilizing these budget-friendly lodging options removes some of the stress of the expense of a PCS or vacation travel. It’s helpful to read reviews online or to reach out to other military members who’ve utilized the properties to have a better understanding of the facilities you’re considering for your stay. 

PCS-Lodging is a great resource that provides easy access to military lodging around bases throughout the United States.

Original article by Dawn M. Smith, updated 2018 by Jen McDonald.