Military families pretty rarely live near their extended families, and this can be the cause of financial trouble when there is an emergency. In my experience working with military families, travelling home on emergency leave is one of the single largest financial stressors. My question to you: do you have enough money to get home today or tomorrow if an emergency were to arise?
The military does offer some emergency travel benefits for families who are stationed overseas, for immediate family members. That means that there are NO emergency travel benefits for the majority of military members who live within the United States, or for emergencies that happen with friends or relatives who don’t fall under “immediate family.”
Both my husband’s family and my family live on the East Coast. The first time we moved away from the East Coast, we were super-young and had almost no money. However, it was one of our highest priorities to build up at least enough savings to buy plane tickets home if an emergency were to arise. I’m glad we did, because an emergency came up the very first year we were overseas. It was such a blessing not to have to put that plane ticket on a credit card.
As our family has grown, and as we’ve moved further away from the East Coast, our emergency travel budget has grown a lot. It is a pain to have the money kept aside and not be able to use it for something fun, but I prefer the peace of mind of knowing that we’re prepared for a family emergency.
If you don’t have this type of savings, think about ways that you could find some money in your budget to make it happen. It doesn’t have to be fast; saving just a little bit every month will eventually add up. Making it a priority is the key to making it happen.
If you have the need for emergency travel before you have the funds to pay for it, consider checking with your branch’s emergency relief society (Army Emergency Relief, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society, or Coast Guard Aid Society.) In many cases, you can get an interest-free loan to fund your emergency travel.