Navy Boot Camp: Graduation Packing List

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Families rush to greet their Sailors at Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall at Recruit Training Command following the recruit graduation ceremony. About 30,000 to 40,000 recruits graduate annually from the Navy’s only boot camp.

The countdown to graduation has begun! Whether it’s time to start packing your bags or you have a bit of time to plan before the big day arrives, the Sandboxx Travel Team has put together the ultimate packing list for your trip to boot camp graduation.

Graduation will be one of the most memorable days of your life, so we’ve put together a list of items you’ll want to make sure you have so you can enjoy a worry-free trip.

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Travel documents: Whether you are a tech guru or prefer to print your itinerary, make sure you have the address and phone number of your hotel, car rental company, the base, and any other places you’ll be stopping along the way. If you’re flying to graduation, make sure to check in on the airline’s website and print your boarding pass 24 hours prior to your flight. If you really want to get fancy, download your airline’s app to gain access to your mobile boarding pass, making getting through the security checkpoint a breeze. For those not as tech-savvy, you can also print out your boarding passing when you get to the airport at the airline kiosks or with an agent.

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Phone chargers: Don’t be the person at graduation recording your loved one’s proudest moment at the ceremony, just to have the video cut short because your battery died. Make sure you bring your charger, including any portable chargers or charging cases . One tip is to organize all electronic cords together in one bag, that way you don’t misplace them.

Casual clothing: Your Sailor will either dress in their Navy Dress White or Blue uniform, both of which are considered a formal uniform. There is not a dress code for graduation and anything from casual to your Sunday best is what we recommend packing.  Keep in mind seating for graduation will be on bleachers, so make sure to back a pair of shoes that are appropriate and safe for getting up the bleacher stairs.

If you plan on staying in the Chicago area a few days before or after graduation make sure you check what the local weather calls for. Depending on what time of the year you are traveling to Navy boot camp graduation, will determine how many extra layers or windbreakers you will want to bring.

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Camera: A picture is worth a thousand words and a lifetime of memories. Graduation Day will be one of the most memorable days for you and your new Sailor – and you will want to take lots of pictures. Whether you use your phone’s camera, a disposable camera, or a digital camera, make sure you have extra batteries, a charger, and memory card so you won’t miss a single moment.

Tissues: You can be sure of two things: paying taxes and shedding a few tears at boot camp graduation.Pick up a travel size Kleenex at your local grocery or drug store. You may think you can fight back tears, but as soon as the garage doors open and you see your new Sailor marching into the graduation hall you won’t be able to hold back your tears.

Government-issued identification: Whether you have a passport or driver’s license, everyone, including those who are 17 years or younger, will need some form of government-issued identification to get onto the base (young children are the only exception). Don’t miss out on graduation because you didn’t think Grandma and Grandpa would need their IDs! When driving on base, you may also need to have proof of vehicle registration and insurance, unless you have a rental car.

Graduation tickets: You will not be allowed on base if you don’t have your graduation tickets with you. Make sure you check that you have your tickets the night before and morning of graduation so that you don’t get turned around at the gates, graduation tickets are highly enforced – there are no exceptions. You can learn how to get your graduation tickets in our Navy boot camp graduation guide.

Car Insurance/Registration: Both your car registration and insurance will be asked for when you pull up to the gate at Great Lakes Recruiting Command. If you are renting a car then your rental car agreement will be asked for as well. If you are not able to show any of these documents you will be turned around and unable to get on base. Your required to have these documents whenever driving you car, so this shouldn’t be a hard one to remember.

Chewing gum: One of the many Navy rules is never to chew gum and walk at the same time. But, to help alleviate the pressure during a flight, you might want to throw some gum in your carry-on. Once you’ve arrived on base, it’ll also help you maintain fresh breath, which is always a plus when interacting with other families at graduation. 

Graduation gifts: If you have chosen to get your new Sailor a gift for completing graduation, don’t leave it behind. Need some good gift ideas? Learn about some great Basic Training Graduation Gifts

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Binoculars: It’s been 8 weeks since you’ve last seen your Sailor, and they’ve gone through a huge transformation. As they begin to march out onto the parade deck, you will naturally begin to look for him or her. Depending on where you are seated in the stands, either upper or lower, it can be easy to pick the wrong Sailor during your first search! A handy pair of binoculars (or your smartphone camera on zoom) at the ready will help you accurately spot your Sailor. 

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Extra cash: It’s never a bad idea to have some extra cash on your person, whether it’s to buy a coffee, some merchandise, or if you encounter some toll booths (Illinois has many toll roads) on your drive to graduation. 

Ready to plan the most unforgettable trip? Learn more about your soon-to-be Sailor’s graduation and start planning today: Navy Boot Camp Graduation: Great Lakes.

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Author: Nicole at Sandboxx

The daughter of a United States Marine, I grew up with a passion and love for our troops, which led me to pursue a career in a field where I could give back to the military community. In my free time you can find me spending time with my significant other who is currently an Officer in the Marine Corps.

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