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Marine Corps Boot Camp: Graduation Packing List

The countdown to graduation has begun! Whether it’s time to start packing your bags or …

A Marine from Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, hugs his loved ones after being released for liberty at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, May 19. After the Marines were released, they were allowed five hours of on-base liberty before graduation on Friday. Annually, more than 17,000 males recruited from the Western Recruiting Region are trained at MCRD San Diego. Charlie Company is scheduled to graduate May 20.

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, here is 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.

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.

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: To walk a mile in their shoes… OK, you won’t be walking in combat boots, but you will be doing a lot of walking throughout graduation, so make sure to pack comfortable shoes. During Family Day, you will be walking around learning all about what your new Marine accomplished over the past 12 weeks. For the graduation ceremony itself, you may have to stand during the ceremony, so you’ll want to wear those comfortable shoes.

Clothing can be casual for each day, but we recommend having a sweater or jacket for outside incase the weather takes a turn for the worse. Many families will wear custom t-shirts on graduation day that display their Marine’s name and platoon number. Although a momentous one, the occasion does not require formal wear, but you’ll want to ensure that you put your best foot forward.

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 Marine – 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 you hear the hundreds of new Marines belt out the Marine Corps Hymn, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.

Government-issued identification: 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 the 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.

Sunscreen: 99.99% of all 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 sunburned even when the clouds are overcast. 

Stroller: Traveling with little ones? We highly recommend bringing a stroller. There will be hundreds of people attending graduation, and if you aren’t able to grab a seat in the bleachers your little ones can sit in their stroller. 

Change of clothes for your Marine: Your new Marine has worn the same outfit for the past 12 weeks, and will be ready to strut their stuff in a pair of their favorite jeans and shoes.

Chewing gum:The first Marine Corps rule 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 Marine a gift for completing graduation, don’t leave it behind. Need some good gift ideas? Learn about some great Basic Training Graduation Gifts


Binoculars: It’s been 12 weeks since you’ve last seen your Marine, 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. It can be easy to pick the wrong Marine during your first search! A handy pair of binoculars (or your smartphone camera on zoom) at the ready will help you accurately spot your Marine. 

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 on your drive to graduation. 

Ready to plan the most unforgettable trip? Learn more about your soon-to-be Marine’s graduation and start planning today:
Marine Corps Boot Camp Graduation: MCRD San Diego
Marine Corps Boot Camp Graduation: MCRD Parris Island

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