One downside to moving with the military is that you are often stationed far away from your family. You can't always make it "home" often, and you miss things that you'd like to attend because it is just too far or too expensive. Every once in a while, though, most military families try to find the time, energy and money to visit their relatives.
We've been overseas a little over a year, and we are heading back to the States to visit family and celebrate my grandfather's 90th birthday. Golly, this trip is getting expensive, and we aren't even close to leaving yet.
We purchased a plane ticket for my husband because he has more scheduling issues than the rest of the family. It would have been nice to buy tickets for all of us, but it would have cost $7200! Instead, we are going to try to use the military Space A travel system. We've used it before, but never for five people, and there is a limited schedule coming from our location. I really hope this works out for us, or we're going to have some issues.
Once we got past the "getting back to America" part of the planning, we started working out the details for moving around CONUS. There are six of us, so we can't really rely on other people to drive us places. A rental car is definitely in order, and it needs to be a minivan. Unfortunately, we don't know exactly when we'll arrive, or possibly even where we'll arrive. We can make a reservation, but it needs to be cancellable up until the last minute.
Thankfully, we've got friends and family to stay with at each of our locations. That will help save us a lot.
Then there is the longer distance travel within the US. We've booked plane tickets to go see the other set of grandparents, as we don't really have time to drive. I finally just booked something yesterday - I couldn't comparison shop anymore. They weren't the least expensive tickets, but the leave from the right airport, then get into the right airport, they are non-stop, and they have good times. It gets overwhelming, trying to figure out how to balance convenience with price, and then factoring in things like not being able to leave too early and getting in before the rental car counters close.
All in all, this is going to be an expensive trip. I know that we're not alone, either. It is our second tour overseas, and it was expensive last time. However, it is all part of being a mobile military family and having the great opportunity to see the world.