Once you’ve been approved to use the Defense Travel System (DTS), you’ll be able to book travel arrangements without ever having to call your travel agent or schlep to an agency office. If you’re using DTS for the first time, you might be intimidated by its sheer size and all the options it offers, but don’t worry we’re here to help! This list of 10 tips will have you booking travel in no time, whether it’s business or pleasure.
1) Basic preparation tips
Basic preparation tips for travelling defense travel system:
- Find out what your booking code is,
- Confirm if a hotel is assigned or self-booking
- Let your unit know where you are going and when
- Contact family members
- Confirm passport and visa requirements
- Pick up medical cards
- Get prescription medication
- Get immunizations
- Find out how to reach your destination
- Use MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) facility available at base
2) Get your trip started right
It’s always better to start planning early. For your upcoming trip, begin by familiarizing yourself with defense travel system (DTS) and other special travel programs. The more you know, and plan, in advance, the smoother your trip will go.
3) Download the free DTG app!
The Defense Travel System (DTS) is a comprehensive web-based tool that allows you to plan and book official travel, manage your travel orders, track trip charges and submit travel claims online. The DTG app lets you make mobile requests when you’re on-the-go so it’s easy to stay connected to your upcoming trips! Not only can DTG save time by letting you manage trips while in transit, but it also helps reduce costs by consolidating all of your expenses in one place—plus it alerts you when overcharges or violations occur. Downloading DTG is free on both iOS and Android devices, so there’s no reason not to use it.
4) Use a Military Guidebook
The Defense Travel System (DTS) can be a bit confusing to use. Luckily, there are several military guides available that cover everything from how to check in for your flight and how to check your bags all of the way through navigating DTS and what you should expect when dealing with vendors. If you’ve never used DTS before, it’s a good idea to try and familiarize yourself with it as much as possible before heading out on your first assignment. Use one of these guides to learn more about using DTS so you’re not stuck figuring things out on your own when you really need help getting where you need to go. As is true with anything new, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
5) Cross your t’s, dot your i’s
Whether you are using your permanent change of station (PCS) orders to move or a temporary travel order, it’s important to fill out all paperwork correctly. Make sure you review your travel orders and know how long you have to transfer your dependent service members before PCSing. This way, if there is an error, you can fix it as soon as possible. It’s better to fix an error on your orders than learn about it at check-in at a new duty station.
6) Avoid common mistakes
As a defense contractor, you can be subject to some rigorous reporting requirements. Know which forms you need to fill out when traveling and what data is required on each of them. Failure to report correctly could mean fines or even prosecution.
7) Save money when traveling with family
The defense travel system allows for reimbursement for some expenses when traveling with family. Keep in mind, however, that there are some restrictions and conditions associated with family travel. For example, only immediate family members are covered (no extended family), and you must be able to prove your relation by providing birth certificates or adoption papers. Further, each family member is reimbursed on a prorated basis depending on how many times they’ve been authorized in their official capacity to accompany an armed forces member during travel.
8) Stay informed about policy changes
Before you book your next trip, check in with TRICARE.mil, a website sponsored by the Department of Defense (DoD). It’s got up-to-date information on policy changes and travel tips. Be sure to bookmark it for future reference. If you don’t have Internet access when you travel, stop at one of DoD’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities to use their computers or check out a smartphone or tablet at a branch near you.
9) Plan out your travel schedule well in advance
When using a military travel system, it’s best to plan your trip at least six months in advance. This ensures that you have plenty of time to make all necessary arrangements and purchase tickets to and from your destinations. The only exception is if you’re traveling on emergency orders or need to depart quickly. If so, talk with your supervisor and see if any special exceptions can be made. Your specific command may also have additional instructions regarding long-term leave planning; make sure you check with them before leaving.
10) Ask for help if you need it
Some travelers like to do everything on their own. Others are completely lost and have no idea where to start. If you fall into either of these categories, make sure you know how to ask for help! You don’t want a difficult travel process derailing your business trip, especially when it’s government-funded or related to an important deal. Speaking of deals…
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