Traveling the world is one of the best benefits military life has to offer. Did you know there are many people who have never been more than 1000 miles away from their home, ever? In fact, military dependents can travel all over the world for less than most people pay for one vacation–it is the most overlooked military benefit.
If your military family gets an opportunity to go somewhere you’ve never been, do it!! As a military spouse, I have had the pleasure of living and visiting so many different places. This is one of the military’s greatest and most overlooked benefits. Being close to family is something I’ve always wanted, but once I became an Army wife, things changed. Seeing the world and having the privilege of learning new cultures is something that has opened my eyes to the beauty of humanity.
PCS orders can be a good thing
Our first PCS move after my husband enlisted was to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. I’d never traveled there and was a little nervous about the move. I did some research, checked out where we’d be living, what attractions were near, average temperatures, and cost of living. Yes, this is typical military spouse research prior to moving.
There is a lot you can learn doing research, but it doesn’t begin to compare to what you’ll experience making a life in a new part of the world. When we were first married, my husband always joked and said he was taking me on a three-year honeymoon to Hawaii. I spent a lot of that honeymoon alone, but I filled the time by exploring and learning about new things, like the Polynesian culture. And it is likely I would have never had these opportunities without the benefit of traveling for the military.
When my soldier was given options for our next duty station, we picked two places close to family in the U.S. and a third choice of Germany. It wasn’t likely that we would get that duty station because Germany was the third option on our list. After a short wait, we were notified that we were moving to Germany. My first thought was to panic. I didn’t speak any language other than English, I drove a big truck, and we had a king-sized bed. Yes, I too heard all the horror stories about of driving down the roads in a big American truck, trying to fit a king-sized bed into a German apartment, and not being accepted because of language barriers.
I was not prepared to move overseas.
Oh, the places you’ll go!
Moving day came on my son’s first birthday. We were off to Germany and boarded a plane from Hawaii. Once we got settled in, traveling Europe became something we had to do. Our first trip was to Strasbourg, France. There was so much to see and do there. I loved the atmosphere and the people were amazing! Our first experience eating at a French restaurant was eye opening. I bought a Germany translation book and studied it religiously. Strausburg was about an hour or two from the German border, so I assumed the French people spoke German. Oops, that was my first newbie mistake. The waitress did not speak German, but to our surprise she did speak Spanish. Hey, I know enough Spanish to order a meal, I call that winning!
There is so much beauty in other cultures, but you must be open and willing to accept things that are different from what you are used to. I want to experience everything life has to offer and the travel you can do as a military spouse is a great military benefit. You only get one life and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Try something new, eat the food, start a conversation with someone you’ve never talked to before, travel to a destination you never imagine you’d go. The only regret you’ll have is if you don’t try something new. Do it, it’ll be worth it, I promise.