Reserve IDT Travel Reimbursements

Does your branch offer Reserve IDT Travel Reimbursements? Find up to date rules for claiming travel reimbursements for Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines.
Advertising Disclosure.

Advertiser Disclosure: The Military Wallet and Three Creeks Media, LLC, its parent and affiliate companies, may receive compensation through advertising placements on The Military Wallet. For any rankings or lists on this site, The Military Wallet may receive compensation from the companies being ranked; however, this compensation does not affect how, where, and in what order products and companies appear in the rankings and lists. If a ranking or list has a company noted to be a “partner,” the indicated company is a corporate affiliate of The Military Wallet. No tables, rankings, or lists are fully comprehensive and do not include all companies or available products.

The Military Wallet and Three Creeks Media have partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. The Military Wallet and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. For more information, please see our Advertising Policy.

American Express is an advertiser on The Military Wallet. Terms Apply to American Express benefits and offers.

It’s not uncommon for many Guard and Reserve members travel long distances to perform their drill duty, or Inactive Duty Training (IDT). I counted license plates from about 7 neighboring states at my last drill. I have friends in different units who tell me there are some members who regularly fly to and from their monthly drills. Talk about dedication!

The good news is if you live outside the normal commuting distance, your unit should provide Lodging-in-Kind, and may even reimburse you for your travel expenses (up to a certain amount). So don’t let the cost of travel be a reason no to join the Guard or Reserves. However, the rules here are very broad, and are not standardized between the services. Reimbursements may even depend on your pay grade or your AFSC or MOS. Let’s take a deeper look at what’s available.

Reserve IDT Travel Reimbursements

For the purposes of this article, we will separate the Guard and Reserves because the Reserves follow a national standard, while the rules for Guard units vary by state. This first section will cover the Reserves.

Reserve IDT travel reimbursements: The service secretary for each branch of the Reserves is allowed to authorize travel reimbursements for members who live more than 150 miles from their base. However, not all branches currently reimburse Reserve members for travel. Here are some basic rules of thumb (but be sure to verify with your unit, as some units may have unique rules):

US Air Force Reserve CommandUS Air Force Reserves: According to the Air Force Reserve Command, IDT Travel Reimbursement is available to Airmen in select DAFSCs who live more than 150 miles from their duty location. Travel Reimbursement will not exceed $500.00 per IDT round trip travel. Contact your unit for additional information. Source. (last updated FY 2019)

US Army ReserveUS Army Reserves: The USAR will pay up to $300 in travel expenses to attend Battle Assembly (drill). This is in addition to Lodging-in-Kind. Previous rules limited this to select MOSs and ranks. However, I have heard these limitations were removed and reimbursements are now available to all ranks and job codes. However, I have not been able to find this in writing. I will update this when I can find a reference. (last updated FY 2015)

US Marine Forces Reserves InsigniaUSMC Reserves: Travel reimbursement open to select grades and MOS’s. When Commercial transportation is used, Reimbursement is authorized for the actual cost of transportation incurred between the member’s home and assigned RTC, not to exceed 300 dollars.  When personally owned conveyance (POC) is used, reimbursement is authorized for traveled mileage for the official distance to and from the IDT location as per Ref A Paragraph U2600 (other mileage rate). Tolls, parking fees, and other necessary expenses incurred incident to POC travel are reimbursable. Reimbursement is limited to eleven (11) round trips per marine per fiscal year.  Source. (last updated FY 2015)

US Navy ReserveUS Navy Reserves: No travel reimbursement for (IDT). Reserve Component members, regardless of paygrade, will not be paid to travel to their normal drill site per reference (e) Appendix 0, paragraph T4 045, which states, “A Reserve Component member commits an obligation to participate in a finite number of scheduled training periods annually. Inherent to this obligation is the travel between the member’s home and the location at which the member normally performs drills. The member receives no reimbursement for that travel.” Unit COs will ensure all cross assigned unit members meet and comply with reference (e). Source. (last updated FY 2014).

US Coast Guard Reserve SealUS Coast Guard: The following excerpt is from USCG Reserve Policy Manual COMDTINST M1001.28B.

Travel While on Inactive Duty. Members are not authorized to receive reimbursement for travel between their place of residence and their normal drill site when under inactive duty orders.

  1. Commands must establish normal drill sites that are validated by the District RFRS staff. If the normal drill site is different than the unit’s location, the District RFRS staff must be notified by the member’s command and noted along with the member’s PAL assignment. This is necessary to provide a legal means of determining eligibility for medical and other entitlements when members travel from their homes to the normal drill site, and for determining entitlements associated with travel between the normal drill site and the unit.
  2. Reservists who are ordered to locations other than their normal drill site must be placed on Temporary Duty (TDY) orders and receive entitlements in accordance with U4000 of reference (n), The Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR). TDY orders are normally issued and funded by the member’s assigned unit, with the exception of duty such as RMPs performed for RSWE participation or medical readiness, which may be issued and funded by the District RFRS staff’s reserve appropriations manager. TDY orders shall specify the member’s normal drill site. When the member travels directly from home to the TDY station, reimbursement is limited to the lesser entitlement from either the member’s home or the normal drill site to the point at which TDY inactive duty is performed.

See What You Qualify For

Select a VA Home Loan Option to Continue:

Home Purchase
Home Refinance
Cash-Out Refinance
Explore My Options
Get Started

National Guard IDT Travel Reimbursements

The National Guard is a completely different beast when it comes to determining whether IDT travel reimbursements are available. The short answer is: ask your unit.

I know that sounds like a cop-out, but it’s the easiest way to determine the availability of travel funds. Because Guard members work for their respective state, there may be differing policies. I have seen on some forums that some units offer travel reimbursements, but I’ve heard from many individuals that it is not available at their units. Please let me know if you have any specific information or references and I will update the site accordingly.

No Reimbursements? Deduct Your Travel Expenses

Even if you aren’t able to receive a reimbursement for your travel expenses, you may be eligible claim mileage and other travel expenses on your taxes if you have to travel more than 100 miles for drill duty. You can also claim half the cost of your meals on your taxes. Those benefits don’t negate the cost of travel, but it certainly helps when you file your taxes.

Comprehensive financial planning and advice
Take the Guesswork out of Finding a VA Lender

Check your VA Home Loan eligibility and get personalized rates. Answer a few questions and we'll connect you with a trusted VA lender to answer any questions you have about the VA loan program.

What Type of Travel is Covered

Lodging. If you live outside the normal commuting distance, your unit will usually provide Lodging-in-Kind. They will either put you up in base lodging (if available), or pay for a hotel room in town. You may or may not be required to share a room, depending on your unit, your rank, and room availability. I’m not going to try and provide a standard set of rules for this, as they vary by unit.

However, most units only cover lodging for certain days, usually the night before training (if you live outside the commuting area), and after the first drill day. They may only cover one night of lodging if you live within a certain distance. They usually do not provide Lodging-in-Kind for the second day of a two day drill, or for your return trip.

If you need lodging outside of the days that are normally covered, you will need to work it out with your unit or claim a tax deduction the following year. Save your receipts!

Transportation: There are many types of transportation that qualify, including planes, trains, and automobiles. Rental cars are not normally authorized. Mileage is typically charged at the standard IRS rate, which is $0.575 per mile in 2015. Servicemembers can also claim incidental expenses such as parking, tolls, and related travel expenses.

When in Doubt, Go to the Source

Standard disclaimer – this is a topic that gets complicated quickly. Each branch has different rules, there are different rules for Guard and Reserves, and there are even different rules within certain branches, depending on your unit, AFSC/Rating/MOS, pay grade, etc.

The best place to find specific answers for your situation is through your unit. Your recruiter will be able to help you if you are considering joining a unit. Otherwise, contact the finance or travel department.

US Code. Here is the official code as written in 37 U.S. Code § 478a – Travel and transportation allowances: inactive duty training outside of normal commuting distances.

Note: Special thanks to LT. Josué Román, USCG, for sending the information on Coast Guard travel while on inactive duty.

About Post Author

Get Instant Access
FREE Weekly Updates! Enter your information to join our mailing list.

Reader Interactions


    Leave A Comment:


    About the comments on this site:

    These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  1. Robert vanhoose says

    Do I have to attend drill if I’m told that there’s no money in the budget to pay for my lodging and I must pay out of pocket?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Robert,

      When I joined my unit, I had to sign a form stating that I was aware of the travel distance from my home of record and that I may incur some expenses as a result. I believe this is standard, but I’m not 100% certain. I recommend asking your personnel/human resources office or your Judge Advocate for additional information. Best wishes.

  2. Jay says

    As someone in the Army Reserve and who has been drilling for 4 years now, the amount of push back I get for using IDT is honestly quite ridiculous. I cannot request POV mileage reimbursement as the brigade felt that $0.52/mile is too generous, so us commuters have to accept the $0.17/mile Gov’t auth/available option, however I am still forced to use my POV. I have tried fighting it for years but to no effect.

    When I book a flight, my travel from the airport to the drill hall is not covered either. So its taxi/uber/lyft/rental car out of pocket for the entire weekend. And when we have our 4 or 5 day drills (which is also quite frustrating as some of my drill weekends start on Wednesday or Thursday, and at that point is it even a drill “weekend” anymore?) its becomes a ridiculous expense, about ~$100/day.

    When I bring it up, I’m told to shut up and be happy I get anything, and that IDT is a privilege not a right. Which is true, but if that’s the way the army wants to look at it then my 100% commitment is a privilege and not a right and so is my continued service after my min. service is complete.

    And before anyone is claiming I don’t know what I am talking about, I’m the XO of my company and have had in depth conversations with the command team at multiple YTBs at BN and BDE levels regarding issues with appropriating and compensating soldiers who we need in the company who are traveling from multiple states away. On one hand the command team says we need these key positions filled and that they have “all” of these resources available but on the other they make you jump through hoops and give you less than what you are entitled to and tell you to shut and deal with it because you signed the dotted line. That’s a quick way to show your subordinates you don’t actually give a **** about them nor do you actually care for their well being.

  3. Chap says

    Hello! I will be using LIK for the first time. I’m an Army Reservist and need to know if I can use my Government Credit Card for my travel

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Chap,

      Contact your base finance office or the office that manages your lodging for drill weekends. 

      For example, my Guard unit handles all the payments and the members are not required to use their travel card or anything else – the bills are simply forwarded to the unit. 

      That said, I’m not sure if all units handle this the same way. But your unit can help you understand what you need to do.

      Best wishes.

  4. Gabby Brown says

    Hello ~ I am ANG. I received moved to Hawaii but my unit is in Minnesota. A co-worked told me rather than pay for flights out of pocket each month, I might be eligible to fly on a military cargo plane. Is this accurate? If so, how and who would I contact?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Gabby,

      Yes, this may be a possibility, but I have absolutely no idea of how it works or who you would contact. I have heard of this in limited circumstances, but I do not have first-hand experience. The references I heard took place quite some time ago, so I’m not sure how current the information is or how you would go about doing it.

      You could try contacting the Hawaii ANG unit or Hickam AFB to see if they have regular rotators that would take you close to where you need to be. But unless they fly directly to Minnesota, you would likely need to grab a connecting flight from a commercial airport. And, of course, if the military flight is canceled, delayed, or rerouted, then you might be in a tough spot. I’m honestly not sure if this would be a reliable way to get to your Guard unit on a regular basis unless there was a regularly scheduled route that took you exactly where you needed to go.

      Another option might be contacting the Hawaii ANG to see if they have openings in your AFSC that you may be able to transfer into. You could also look into cross-training if that is an option.

      Please let me know if you learn more about this – I’m sure other servicemembers would love to know more about this if it is an opportunity.

  5. Meatus says

    Is there a good tracker out there? My part time job is making sure my claims were paid correctly. But, I need a good UTA/IDT, AT, MPA/RPA, travel/mileage/hotel pay tracker first.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Meatus, I’m not sure. This sounds like something that would most likely be developed and maintained at the local level. I robust spreadsheet might be able to handle this, but it may require something more advanced, such as an Access database. You may try speaking with the individual who previously handled this at your unit, or contact other units to see how they are handling this.

      Best wishes!

    • Ryan L. says


      You may have already known by now, but IDT-TRP for travel reimbursement is done AFTER the duty is completed. Do not file any authorization through DTS…only a local voucher in DTS after the fact. Buy whatever transportation method you’ll be using online, then upload the receipt (and any other documents your command requires) as Substantiating Documents in the voucher after the duty is complete.

  6. TWIN says

    I second that!! I just got my DTS rejected….stating that ” I need to change to 0.17 per mile. I just looked up all regulations and all states 0.575. Ok, If they are saying, “if government vehicle is available,” provide one for me then! I drive over 500 mile round trip to BA and need that money for gas!

  7. Brad says

    Hello Ryan,
    The IDT program is an Army Reserve program that helps offset the cost of travel from home of record to the unit the Soldier is assigned to. They will reimburse up to $300 for mileage, food, hotel, fuel or air fare.
    The regulation states that mileage reimbursement will be paid at the IRS rate of 0.575 per mile. This program just like LIK or Lodging In Kind is funded by Congress and placed into the Higher Command’s fiscal year budget annually.
    Our higher command is forcing us to lie on our DTS (Defense Travel System) voucher by choosing a drop down under “mileage expenses” that states a Government Vehicle is available therefore the mileage reimbursement is only 0.17 per mile instead of the mandated 0.575 per mile from the JFTR rules for the program.
    They do this for one reason and that is to save as much money as they can throughout the FY. However, it is unethical, immoral and downright scandalous not to mention most likely illegal unless there is some grey fuzzy area that gives the command the ability to screw their Soldiers.
    I drive 402 miles one way to my unit. Just mileage at the correct rate of 0.575 per mile would give me the full $300 reimbursement. At 0.17 per mile I have to submit hotel receipts, fuel receipts and food receipts and then still not get over $180.00. I am entitled we ALL are entitled to $300 reimbursement.
    I need to know where I can find the actual regulation on this program for Army Reserves. The one posted here is only good through Dec 2016.
    Thank you,

  8. LS2 Wilkinson says

    I am a reservist on a two week annual training. When I fill out my DTS claim, can I claim some amount for laundry and for boarding my dogs while I as away?

  9. David P says

    I currently live in southern california, the army reserve job im looking for is 68c which is practical nursing specialists, the only unit in need of these mos is in Vancouver, WA. my recruiter told me about this program that you mentioned about reimbursements. however im curious, is this something i need to get in my contract? or just a leap of faith?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello David, Thank you for contacting me. Contact your unit and verify they will reimburse you for your travel expenses. Not all units will reimburse members for travel. Travel expenses should be tax deductible if they meet the requirements set out in the article, but yo can only deduct non-reimbursed expenses.

      As for getting it in writing – that is always helpful, but they may or may not put it into your contract. Also, unit policies are subject to change based on funds availability and other factors. I wish you the best with your decision to join!

  10. phan an says

    can IMA soldier get reimbursable for travel expenses such as car rental and perdiem (lodging and meal) when conduct IDTs (24 consecutive days)?
    I conduct 24 IDTs in Hawaii (my home of record is in Washington DC), not count weekends, so I have o stay in Hawaii for total of 34 days. The unit, where I am assigned to, agrees to pay for me but IMA coordinate refuse to pay for it. He says that there is no such thing in JTR stated that the military will pay for IMA soldier while conducting IDTs. I have to pay out my pocket almost $5,000, with E5. That is terrible.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Phan An, Thank you for contacting me. I do not have the answer to your question. It may be possible that the gaining unit will offer to pay for these items, but I do not have a reference to support this. I recommend speaking with your finance office and ask them to provide a reference to back up the answer they give you. I wish you the best.

The Military Wallet is a property of Three Creeks Media. Neither The Military Wallet nor Three Creeks Media are associated with or endorsed by the U.S. Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs. The content on The Military Wallet is produced by Three Creeks Media, its partners, affiliates and contractors, any opinions or statements on The Military Wallet should not be attributed to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Dept. of Defense or any governmental entity. If you have questions about Veteran programs offered through or by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, please visit their website at The content offered on The Military Wallet is for general informational purposes only and may not be relevant to any consumer’s specific situation, this content should not be construed as legal or financial advice. If you have questions of a specific nature consider consulting a financial professional, accountant or attorney to discuss. References to third-party products, rates and offers may change without notice.

Advertiser Disclosure: The Military Wallet and Three Creeks Media, LLC, its parent and affiliate companies, may receive compensation through advertising placements on The Military Wallet. For any rankings or lists on this site, The Military Wallet may receive compensation from the companies being ranked; however, this compensation does not affect how, where, and in what order products and companies appear in the rankings and lists. If a ranking or list has a company noted to be a “partner,” the indicated company is a corporate affiliate of The Military Wallet. No tables, rankings, or lists are fully comprehensive and do not include all companies or available products.

Editorial Disclosure: Editorial content on The Military Wallet may include opinions. Any opinions are those of the author alone, and not those of an advertiser to the site nor of  The Military Wallet.

Information from your device can be used to personalize your ad experience.