Military couples spend a lot of time apart. So one of the things we treasure is a good old-fashioned date night. But couples often claim they don’t indulge in date nights as much as they’d like to because one night of fun isn’t worth a month of figuring out how to pay off the credit card bill. Fortunately, date nights don’t have to be super expensive. Here are 7 date night deals for military couples:1. Hire a babysitter. We love our kids, but date night just isn’t the same if they’re tagging along. Unfortunately, with all the moving around we do, it’s often difficult to find reliable babysitters and to hold onto those perfect sitters once we find them. That’s where Sittercity.com and Care.com come in. Both Sittercity.com and Care.com can help you find babysitters, nannies, and even pet sitters. You can search through a listing of sitters in your area that include background checks and parent reviews, as well as post specific jobs you want filled so the sitters come to you. Thanks to the Department of Defense, military families can sign up for free Sittercity memberships. Care.com basic memberships are free as well. While Care.com premium memberships aren’t free, USAA members can get a 30% discount. Want to save even more on sitters? Swap sitting services with friends. One night you host all the kids to give your friends some time alone, another night it’s your turn to hit the town. The kids end up with a play date, and you don’t have to pay a dime for child care.2. Take a class. Are you a do-it-yourselfer? Home Depot offers free workshops on everything from installing a toilet to lawn maintenance. (And while you’re there, use your 10% military discount to pick up the necessary items to practice what you learned.) Want to get creative? Michaels offers classes as well, and you can use their 10% military discount to stock up on supplies. Are you into gadgets? Apple stores offer free workshops to teach you how to use that new iPad you bought (for a great price at the NEX).3. Hang out on base. Your local military installation provides lots of free or discounted activities that are perfect for an inexpensive date night. What exactly can you and your honey do on base? (Programs vary by location so check with your local installation to find out what’s available.) Spend time with your spouse by staying fit. Find out the class schedule at your installation’s free fitness center. In addition to cardiovascular and weight-lifting equipment, most fitness centers on base have free group classes like spinning and zumba. We all love the “dinner and a movie” date, so after dinner, head over to the base movie theater that offers reduced prices on movies. You can find movie schedules and other special events on your installation’s website. Bowling is another fun date night. Bowl for two, double date with friends, or sign up for a tournament. Some locations also have arcades and snack bar facilities as well as coaches for instruction. Can’t find a night to get away, but you’re both free on a Sunday afternoon? Have a golf date. Golf courses on base offer open course play, tournaments, driving ranges, pro shops, cart rentals, snack bars and instructors for classes and private lessons. Want to plan a vacation or find out about local events like concert and athletic games (for future date nights)? Head over to the Information, Ticket and Tours or ITT office. (Depending on the service, it may be called the Leisure Travel Office or Information, Ticket and Recreation.) They also provide discounted tickets to parks, museums and vacation hot spots like Disney World. Shopping. That may not the most exciting and romantic date night, but sometimes shopping without the kids is a treat worthy of dishing out the cash for a babysitter. Go to the commissary (without using one of those rocket-inspired kid carts) and find some deals at the NEX/AAFES/MCX.4. See a play. Through the Blue Star Theatres program, military personnel and their families (and veterans) can get discounted or complimentary admission to 90 theaters, including The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, the Burning Coal Theatre Company in North Carolina, and The William Inge Center for the Arts in Kansas.5. Laugh. It’s not always easy to find the humor in military life. So find it at a comedy club. Call ahead to your local comedy club before purchasing tickets online to ask about military discounts. For instance, select locations of Funny Bone Comedy Club and Restaurants offer military discounts that range from $5 off tickets to free admission on certain nights. Go see that new romantic comedy that just hit theaters. If it's not playing on base, remember many movie theaters offer military discounts, including AMC, Cinemark, and Regal theaters.6. Relax. Massages are a great way for busy military couples to forget about deployments and PCS moves and simply relax. Take advantage of Massage Envy’s military discount program, and book an appointment for a couples massage.7. In-house date. Can’t get a sitter? No good movies playing? Too tired to go out? No problem. Create the cheapest date of all: stay home. But don’t put the kids to bed and turn on the tv like you always do. Mix it up. (Although if catching up on the shows that are overloading your DVR sounds like the perfect date night to you, go or it. And make sure you look into the military discount offered by TiVo.) Play board games. Do a puzzle. Have a photo shoot. Look through your wedding pictures. Make a scrapbook. Buy a few bottles of wine and a variety of cheeses beforehand and create your own wine-tasting. Take an online cooking class. Date night doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your house. It means spending time together. So get creative and come up with a list of ideas for dates you can enjoy at home. What do you do on date night?
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