Graduation is just around the corner! Whether it’s time to start packing your bags or you have a bit of time to plan before the big day arrives, we have the ultimate Army graduation packing list.
Whether you are heading to Fort Jackson, Fort Sill, Fort Benning or Fort Leonard Wood, basic training graduations tend to follow the same layout. 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 to whatever base you go to.
It’s hard to get to graduation if you can’t travel there. Whether you are tech proficient or not, have a note of where you are staying and the address, the base name and any stop off’s you might have en-route.
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. You may also download your airline’s app for a mobile boarding pass. 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.
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.
What to wear to graduation is really your own choice. Your new Soldier will be in their dress uniform so it can be nice to make an effort so your pictures look extra nice. Also, bear in mind that Army bases won’t necessarily have footpaths everywhere and that there will be a lot of walking so comfortable shoes are a good idea.
The only requirements on clothing for Army graduation is that it is respectful as it is a family event. Graduation will take place outdoors and you will be seated in bleachers so keep this in mind while you pack.
Graduation is one of those days you will want to remember over and over again. Pictures and video are the next best thing. Whether you use your phone’s camera or a separate camera, make sure you have extra batteries, a charger and memory card so you don’t miss a single moment. Family Day is also full of demonstrations of what your Soldier has learned and recording this can be great to show those who can’t attend graduation.
Pick up a travel size pack of tissues at your local store. You might not usually be a cryer but seeing your loved one with their fellow Soldiers is always hugely emotional and you don’t want to be the person with tears running everywhere in all those graduation pictures.
Whether you have a passport or driver’s license, anyone 18 years or older will need some form of government-issued identification to get onto any military base. 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. These are some of the more important things to remember so double check your documents before you leave.
Most Army graduations are held outside, so you would be wise to pack some sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Don’t let the clouds fool you! It’s easy to get sunburn even when the clouds are overcast. An umbrella or parasol is also a good choice but be aware that people will be sitting behind you and you don’t want to block anyone’s view of this amazing day.
Traveling with kids? We highly recommend bringing a stroller and some toys. There will be hundreds of people attending graduation, and if you aren’t able to grab a seat in the bleachers they can sit in their stroller.
Army rules prohibit chewing gum while in uniform. However, for you, chewing gum can help alleviate the pressure build-up during a flight. 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.
If you have chosen to get your new Soldier a gift for completing graduation, don’t bring it on base. Instead, wait until you are off post as Soldiers aren’t permitted to hold gifts on base. Need some good gift ideas? Learn about some great Basic Training Graduation Gifts.
Trips to graduation can throw up some unexpected expenses, whether it be tolls, snacks or some merchandise from graduation. There can also be some emergency needs. Try have a little extra cash at the ready so that you are prepared for all expenses graduation might throw at you.
Last but not least, please remember that you will be entering a military base and for the safety of all, you and your car may be checked. It is best to leave anything at home which may be seen as a threat. If there are certain things you would prefer to bring but which may cause alarm to those checking, please contact any of the bases in advance and ask their advice.
Ready to plan the most unforgettable trip? Learn more about your soon-to-be Soldier’s graduation and start planning today.