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Almost every single active duty or retired military person I ever met loves to travel. We like going places, meeting folks, and seeing things.

For the most part, however, when it comes to choosing where to sleep, many of us are not very good at it. Somewhere in the back of our mind, we know that we can stay on military bases for $8.00 to $25.00 per day. But many of us who drive across our great country don't even try it. Instead we'll stop for the night and pay between $40 and $80 for a motel room. Heck, most of the time, I even forget to ask the motel if they have a military discount (many of them do).


Staying in billeting space available used to be more trouble than it was worth. First, you couldn't make reservations. You just kind of had to show up around 1800 hrs, and hope that they had some rooms available. If you wanted to stay for more than one day, you had to pack up your bags, check out of your room, and try again at 1800 that night. Second, one had no idea where all the bases were. Sure, as a retired Air Force NCO, I have a pretty good idea where all the major Air Force bases are located, but when it comes to Army, Navy, Marine and Coast Guard bases, I haven't got a clue if I don't have an Internet connection handy. That's not always possible when I'm out "on the road."

The U.S. Forces Travel Guide to U.S. Military Installations contains a wealth of information you can use while traveling on the road. Now that you can make space available billeting reservations up to 24 hours in advance, this guide can help you dramatically reduce the cost of off-duty/retired travel.

I've got great news for those who love to travel. Both of those problems have been solved! Staying overnight at a military base for 1/4 of the cost of a civilian motel is now easier than ever!

Military billeting operations now accept reservations for space available billeting up to 24 hours in advance. The Navy allows reservations for up to 60 days for active duty on leave, and 30 days for retirees. This means when you are traveling, as long as you know where you want to stop the next night, you can call ahead and have a room, or family living quarters waiting for you (still space available, of course. This means that those making reservations for official travel have priority, but once you get YOUR reservation, you won't be bumped by official travelers who just "show up.")

So, how can I decide where to stay during my travels? Military Living Publications has solved the problem with its U.S. Forces Travel Guide to U.S. Military Installations ($16.25). This all-in-one guide gives important information which you can use while on the road. It has basic information on location with state and regional position maps and directions to each installation. Detailed information is given on military lodging, military RV, camping & recreation areas, and Space-A Travel locations. The guide also includes information about commissaries, exchanges, golf courses and marinas, military recreational activities, ticket and tour offices, medical facilities, chapels, clubs and messes.


I personally had a chance to use this guide on a recent motor-trip across the U.S. Looking at my Atlas, I decided that Oklahoma City was about right for an overnight stop on my two day trip. I turned to the section on Oklahoma in the Travel Guide, and decided that Tinker AFB would be my best bet. I called the phone number listed in the Guide, and low and behold, I got a reservation. I stayed that night at Tinker AFB for a fraction of the cost of a motel room. Additionally, I took the opportunity to work out for a couple of hours in the Base Gym (try that in a Motel 6), and had a nice supper in the NCO Club.

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE (OK04R3)

3001 Staff Drive, Suit 1AG78A
Tinker Air Force Base, OK 73145-3010

TELEPHONE NUMBER INFORMATION: Main installation numbers: C-405-732-7321, D-312-844-1110, WEB: www.tinker.af.mil

LOCATION: Southeast Oklahoma City, off I-40. Use Tinker gate exit 157A off South Air Depot Boulevard. Clearly marked. USMRA: Page 84 (G-4) NMC: Oklahoma City, 12 miles northwest.

GENERAL INFORMATION: Air Force Materiel Command Base. Major Logistics Center for the Air Force, Navy Stratcom E-6 Wing, AWACS E-3 Sentry Wing, AFRES Tanker Wing.

TEMPORARY MILITARY LODGING: Indian Hills Inn, 72 SPTG/SVML, 4002 Mitchell Avenue, Tinker AFB, OK 73145-8101, C-405-734-2822, D-312-884-2822, Fax: C-405-734-7426, D-312-884-7426, 24 hours daily, DV/VIP: Bldg 3001, C-405-734-2000/3737.

RV, CAMPING/FAMCAMP: FAMCAMP, 72D SPTG/SV, 6120 Arnold, Tinker AFB, OK 73145-8101, off base, year round, C-405-734-3162, D-312-884-3162. Twenty-nine paved camper spaces with W/E and sewer hookups and five tent spaces without hookups.

SPACE-A: Pax Term/Lounge, Building 268, C-405-739-4339, D-312-339-4339, Fax: C-405-739-3826, D-212-339-3826, Mon-Fri 0715-1800 hours. Off schedule show times, weekends and holidays closed. Flights to CONUS and overseas locations.

ATTRACTIONS: Oklahoma City (the capital), Kirkpatrick Planetarium, Oklahoma Air Space Museum, Omniplex Science Museum, National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, Oklahoma City Zoo, Remington Park Racetrack, Myriad Botanical Gardens, Frontier City Theme Park, arts and entertainment.

(Author's Note: Major telephone numbers are also included in the Guide, but have not been reproduced here).

In addition to the U.S. Forces Travel Guide to U.S. Military Installations, Military Living Publications offers a host of other handy maps, atlases, and books for the military traveler, including the European U.S. Military Road Atlas, for those of you who wish to travel a little farther away from home.

As for the Travel Guide, it's earned a cherished spot in my Chevy Van, right next to all of my other essential travel aids, where it will be waiting to help me save money on my next cross-country trip.

Copyrighted Material reproduced with permission of
Military Living Publications,
www.militaryliving.com

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