- There are several ways that teachers and other school employees can obtain discounts and savings on vacations.
- Student-oriented travel discount programs are open to school employees.
- Public school employees can utilize the government rate at some national hotel chains.
- Swap homes with a fellow teacher, take advantage of discounts at museums and more.
School employees are eligible for a variety of travel discounts—many of which you may not know about. Here are eight insider tips for finding fabulous vacation values at museums, hotels, theme parks and other travel attractions.
1. Check your benefits package
Some school districts—particularly large urban ones—include access to programs such as Plum Benefits, Recreation Connection, Perks at Work and Tickets at Work in their employee benefit packages. Deals include discounted prices for theme parks, ski resorts, all-inclusive resorts and other travel destinations. If your school district doesn’t provide this benefit, some educational credit unions do, so check your credit union’s membership details.
2. Use your NEA member benefits
As an NEA member, you qualify for exclusive travel discounts. Through the NEA Travel Program, members are eligible for discounts on car rentals, airfare and hotel bookings. You'll also find deals on guided tours, cruises and resort stays. For things you need on your trip, the NEA Discount Marketplace can help you save on luggage, theme park tickets, restaurant gift certificates, travel apparel and more when you shop at thousands of retailers. And for destination ideas and travel tips, sign up for the monthly NEA Travel Newsletter.
3. Take advantage of student discounts
Several student-oriented travel discount programs are also open to school employees. The Student Universe website extends its discounted airfare, hotel and tour rates to teachers and college or university faculty, and there’s no membership fee!
The International Teacher Identity Card offered by student travel agency STA Travel helps teachers, lecturers, professors and tutors get discounts in more than 125,000 locations for an annual fee of $20.
The Student Advantage Card caters to college students and faculty only. Partnering with national brands, it allows members to save when buying must-have items such as textbooks and laptops, and makes discounts available on hotels and car rentals. Membership starts at $22.50 per year.
The International Student Exchange (ISE) Card is a great fallback to have when you’re abroad. In addition to discounts in select countries, its Worldwide Assistance provides help to students and faculty with lost passports, travel documents, legal problems and even emergency cash. (Membership for faculty has no age limit.)
4. Get the government rate on hotel rooms
Employees of public school districts can take advantage of the government rate at some national hotel chains. Inquire about your hotel’s policies at the time of booking, and be prepared to show your school ID at check-in. Educators are eligible for government rates at various hotel chains: Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Starwood and Wyndham Hotel Group Hotels.
5. Stay with fellow educators
Long before Airbnb became a phenomenon, TeacherHomeSwap.com was developed as the home exchange network exclusively for educators. All teachers in this home swap community are verified, and it’s easy to find the perfect match for your needs. Search by location or availability and then suggest a swap to connect with the homeowner. Membership in the site costs only $99 per year—what a huge saving!
More than just a home swap site for teachers all over the world, Teacher Tourist offers additional useful services, including hosting, guide, and home and pet sitting. Mini swaps are also available for those traveling spontaneously, or vacationing nearby or for shorter duration. Teachers in this community are guided by a code of etiquette that aims to keep all members safe and respected, and transactions smooth and successful.
6. Explore museums for free
Museums from coast to coast offer free or discounted admission to school employees living in-state or in neighboring states. For example, Illinois K-12 teachers can get free admission to Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. New England K-12 teachers and some administrators are eligible for a free two-year educator’s pass to Boston’s renowned New England Aquarium, and a free yearlong educator’s pass to the Kennedy Space Center is available to K-12 teachers from Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Note that in many cases you must complete an online request form well in advance of your visit and provide specified identification. Check out this list of free museums and other attractions throughout the country.
7. Get souvenir discounts at national parks
Many concessionaires that run gifts shops at national parks offer teacher discounts on purchases. Whether it’s a souvenir T-shirt for you or a book or map for your classroom, you might be able to knock up to 15% off the price tag. Inquire at the register; you’ll likely need to show your school ID.
8. Just ask
Wherever you’re traveling, simply inquire about educator discounts. You’ll be surprised just how many places offer one, including the Wyndham Hotel Group, Marriott, Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Hilton Bonnet Creek (Orlando), Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin resorts and cruise lines such as MSC Cruises. And, don’t forget that if you’re a public school educator, you ‘re eligible for government rates. See tip No. 4 above.