8 Little-Known Vacation Deals for Teachers

Discover secret ways to save on your next trip, including teacher discounts and savings for other public-school employees on everything from hotels and car rentals to museums and theme parks.

Woman on vacation riding in a rickshaw with her luggage

by NEA Member Benefits

Oct 15, 2021

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NEA Member Benefits understands how much you love to travel and how much you’ve missed it. As states begin to relax their regulations with regard to COVID-19 and more Americans become vaccinated, travel is opening up more and more. Before planning a trip, read the health and safety protocols and requirements for visitors to any destination, as well as those of airlines, car rentals and hotels before booking and again before traveling.

Key takeaways

  • The new NEA Discount Tickets Program offers reduced-cost tickets to theme parks, theaters and more.
  • There are several ways that teachers and other public-school employees can obtain discounts and savings on vacations.
  • Student-oriented travel discount programs are open to school employees.
  • Public-school employees can use the government rate at some national hotel chains.
  • Swap homes with a fellow teacher, take advantage of discounts for educators at museums and more.

School employees are eligible for a variety of travel discounts for educators—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. Use your NEA member benefits

As an NEA member, you qualify for exclusive travel discounts through the NEA Travel Program. You’re eligible for educator discounts on every element of your trip, from hotels and flights, to rental cars and cruises:

  • Thanks to the new NEA Discount Tickets Program, members can score cheaper tickets to theme parks and water parks across the country, including Walt Disney World and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, sporting events and games, concerts and music festivals, ski and golf resorts, plus theater tickets, shows, attractions and movie passes
  • Save big on domestic and international trips with teacher flight discounts through NEA Travel: Airfare
  • Get teacher hotel discounts on rooms from top chains such as Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton and more through NEA Travel: Hotels
  • Get educator discounts on cars, SUVs, minivans and more through NEA Travel: Car Rental partners such as Enterprise and Budget
  • Find deals on experiential travel through NEA Travel: Guided Tours
  • Set sail with sales at NEA Travel: Cruises
  • Kick back and relax with all-inclusive deals through NEA Travel: Resorts

Plus, when you purchase any of these things on NEA’s travel portal you’ll be able to spend and earn NEA Travel Dollars for even more savings.

For things you need on your trip, NEA Discount Marketplace can help you save on luggage, restaurant gift certificates, travel apparel and more when you shop at thousands of retailers. Recent examples include CitySightseeing, Restaurant.com, Eagle Creek, Ebags and Samsonite.

For destination ideas and travel tips, sign up for our free monthly NEA Travel Newsletter

2. Check your benefits package

Some school districts—particularly large urban ones—include access to programs such as Plum BenefitsRecreation ConnectionPerks 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. 

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 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 $30 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, including HiltonHyattIHGMarriott, Aqua-Aston Hotels, Choice Hotels 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 to the site costs only $100 per year with no additional costs for each swap—what a huge savings!

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 and attractions 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. SeaWorld in Orlando is free for teachers in Florida with a teacher’s pass.

Note that in many cases you must complete an online request form well in advance of your visit and provide specified identification. Check out our 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 yourself 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. And, don’t forget that if you’re a public school educator, you’re eligible for government rates. See tip No. 4 above for details.

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