The date has been starred on your calendar for months now, and it is almost here! Your service member is going to graduate boot camp……….FINALLY!!! We know you are ecstatic for this long-awaited event, but there is so much to do between now then, and it can be overwhelming. We are here to help! We have gone through this ourselves and helped hundreds of families just like yours, plan to travel to graduation. Below are some of our most useful expert travel tips to make the journey easier, so you can enjoy your reunion and/or homecoming after boot camp.
Simple, but important words of advice, keep open communication with your recruit about their training and graduation. We know they get very little time for letters and even less (if any) time for phone calls. It is important to keep an open line of communication with them whenever possible to stay informed about their training and graduation. Some graduations have limited seating available, while others have plenty of room for everyone. Some recruits get to leave after graduation, some only get a few days, and some ship to training the next day. This is information your recruit will have, and you will need. Please do not contact their chain of command! I, myself, had to endure the boot camp wait when my husband enlisted. I can tell you first hand, you do not want to contact their chain of command. They can and may be reprimanded for it. Often times, as hard as it is to accept, no news is good news. If you are unable to reach your recruit, a great point of contact is their recruiter.
Now onto the exciting part…………Graduation!
One of the most important things to remember is to plan ahead. . . but not too far ahead. Regardless of whether you fly regularly, haven’t flown in years, or have never flown, to make travel smoother and more enjoyable it is important to plan ahead! This can be tricky when talking about boot camp graduation because the military is well known for hurry up and wait. With Boot camp graduation it is best to wait until the 4th week of training to book airfare. Recruits can be delayed in many ways, from shipping out later than expected to delays in training the first couple weeks. As time passes, there is less chance that the graduation date will change. It is important to keep in mind, something as simple as getting the flu can cause the recruit to be placed on quarters (they are not allowed to leave their room) and therefore delay training. This is where our travel protection options come in handy. We have 3 different options to help you with unexpected circumstances. You can read more about those options HERE.
Another thing to remember is that most branches will have a family day first, and then graduation day the next day. Please be aware this can vary, so again, keep in communication with your recruit so you know the schedule. To attend family day/graduation you will need to get on base. This is another time your recruit will be able to provide the most accurate information. Different bases have different guidelines for attendance. Some bases allow access without a pass, while some require a pass that you can request in advance. All bases do require a valid government issued ID to get on base. Be prepared to get there early, as many families will be attending and the line to get in the gate will likely be very long. If family day events start at 8am, I recommend getting to base about 6 or 630AM, better early than late. That should also allow you plenty of time to get a great seat! Also, check the weather before travelling because most events are held outside. Be prepared for heat or cold, humidity, a beating sun, wind or rain, etc. Check the weather beforehand, and be prepared. Comfortable shoes are important because there will be a lot of walking. Sunscreen is always a must, as you will most likely spend hours outside during the family day and graduation day.