I’m leaving tomorrow morning for Chicago to see my handsome husband graduate Navy Boot Camp as a United States Sailor. I’m going insane with last minute packing and with my preggo brain, I’m terrified that I’ll forget something vital to pack… hence this super long and largely common sense list that I’ve compiled. As I have personally never attended a Navy PIR, this is all info I’ve gleaned from seasoned Navy wives and mothers, and things that I’ve found that I personally would like to bring or include.
Since I’ve thoroughly raped this checklist in my Word documents, I thought I might as well share it with the blogosphere. I hope someone out there finds it helpful, haha!
THINGS TO BRING TO NAVY GRADUATION (PIR)
Plane tickets, hotel reservations and car rental information – Have all of your important travel reservations and documents handy, along with phone numbers and street addresses of hotel, car pick up / drop off locations, the Meet and Greet and the Great Lakes military base.
Phone, laptop and chargers – These are essentials for me when it comes to travel. I usually don’t forget the actual phone or laptop, it’s the chargers that I have a tendency to forget.
Camera, lenses, batteries, charger, memory card and uploading cord – One of my worst nightmares is the thought of forgetting my camera right before an important event, or just as awful, any one of the elements of my camera that are required for photography. I literally have nightmares before major happenings – my honeymoon, a vacation, a graduation – so I’ve gotten really anal about checking and double checking this part of the list. And just last week a gal on the 900 division Facebook group reported having to take photos on her iPhone because she forgot her camera’s SD cards! It happens. So make sure you have your camera, your lenses (standard and telephoto), your batteries, your cameras charger and an uploading cord for getting your photos safely stored onto your laptop ASAP.
Your toiletries and medications – I could go on an even greater checklist with this little category (and my unabridged checklist on my iPhone notebook does just that), but for brevities sake – toiletries and medications. You know what you need / want.
Make up with waterproof mascara – Emphasis on the waterproof mascara. Don’t forget to pack make-up remover wipes as well. (Or better yet, don’t wear any makeup on PIR day, to avoid smudging the Navy whites.)
Outfit for the Meet and Greet – From what I can tell, the attire is casual. I plan on wearing a nice-ish top and leggings, with comfortable pumps.
Centerpiece and place cards for the Meet and Greet – Division families are encouraged to show support for their divisions by creating centerpieces for the tables at Sarge’s Meet and Greet. It’s obviously not a requirement, but our division group is so tight knit and ambitious, we went all out and plan to take the Meet and Greet by storm. In a fit of Martha Stewart-esque craftiness I decided I’d make personalized origami boat place cards for all the people in our group and ensure that we can all sit together.
Gifts for fellow division families at the Meet and Greet – If you were lucky enough to find an amazing support group of fellow Navy families from your sailors division through Facebook that you plan to meet up with, show your appreciation for their company and support with a small gift, candy, cards, whatever (if you’d like, it’s certainly not mandatory)! In the first few weeks of discovering my new online friends, I decided to make up a batch of patriotic lapel pins as gifts. The group has since grown to a number that exceeds the lapel pins I made, so my generosity and act of friendship is only extending to the 938 Facebook old-timers. (Classy, I know, lol.)
Parking passes, base pass and IDs – Make sure you have all of this printed out and set aside prior to leaving for Great Lakes. These guys don’t mess around. If you don’t have the appropriate documents, you won’t be getting in to see the graduation.
Outfit for the PIR – The going consensus is that the attire is business casual, though there is currently no enforced dress code, so jeans and a tee are welcomed. But really? Jeans and a tee for a NAVY GRADUATION? Come on. I’m planning on wearing a nice navy blue knee length day dress. I was agonizing trying to find the perfect dress to show off my baby bump to my husband, and had planned on wearing a 1950’s style circle skirt with an empire waist, but finally decided to opt for something simple, comfortable and classy.
Comfortable walking shoes – Make sure you plan to wear comfortable walking shoes – if your sailor wants to go out on the town, you may be spending the day in whatever you are wearing.
Support ribbons or attire – Don’t forget to pack any ribbons or other support trinkets if you are planning on sporting them to the PIR.
Jacket or wrap – I have been hearing rumors that the PIR room is pretty cold. A lot of gals online are advising bringing something warm to cover up with, like a light jacket or a wrap.
Tissues – If you’re not crying like a baby, you’re a robot. Or a monster. Or a robotic monster. Anyway, make sure you bring something to sob into when you see your sailor on the PIR floor. And when you hear liberty call. And, you know, for the whole weekend.
Graduation gifts for your sailor – I got my husband the Performance Division’s Ship 2 Challenge Coin, and a leather Burberry bomber jacket that I found pre-used for an AMAZING deal. I am going to wrap them and bring them in my checked luggage, but as I have had wrapped gifts unwrapped by TSA before, I’m bringing extra paper just in case I need to re-wrap.
Sailors cell phone and charger, and other electronics. – Your sailor will be able to take these things with them to A School, but they have to be handed off at the airport after their day of leave. I’m going to make sure I have Jonathan’s phone charged and activated during his free time after graduation though, as I’m sure he’d enjoy checking his phone, logging onto Facebook or Google searching random things throughout the day.
Sailors rings and personal jewelry – I’ve been wearing Jonathan’s wedding ring and his Aragorn ring on a necklace since he left for Boot Camp. I can’t wait to see them back on his fingers, and I’m sure his hands have felt naked without them.
Change of clothes for your sailor – If you plan on spending any time in your hotel room, give your sailor the option of changing our of their sailor uniform and into some comfortable and familiar clothes. I’m planning on bring my husband some pajamas, an actual outfit (jeans a tee shirt), and one of his favorite loose hoodies so he has a choice of what to wear / change into.
Your sailors favorite cologne, deodorant or shampoo – While Jonathan isn’t big on cologne, he does love him his Axe brand shampoos and deodorants. People talk about how much their sons / husbands loved returning to their familiar and personalized scents and grooming products. I don’t know how much the gesture will be one that Jonathan delights in, but I’d rather have that option open to him if it would make him feel that much more “at home”.
Lingerie and massage oil – This is for the wifey’s (obviously). I don’t know when / if we’ll have time to ditch the in-laws and indulge in some, uh, quiet time – but in the off chance that we do, I am planning on bringing my classy honeymoon lingerie as a sweet surprise (Don’t look at me like I’m some kinky temptress, it cover more than the average swimsuit. I wore this for my 30 week maternity photos), and some massage oil, and I’m hoping to give my honey a long, relaxing, peaceful massage. Hey, he’s earned it!
Lint roller and tide pen – The sailors must wear their white uniforms in public at all times during PIR weekend, so if you are planning on going out and about, make their life easier and have a lint roller and tide pen to keep them neat and clean.
Dental floss, mint gum, chapstick – Keep some handy “just in case” essentials in your purse. This is not the weekend to be irritated and made uncomfortable by a pesky / stubborn piece of food stuck in your (or your sailors) teeth. Or chapped lips. Or a rank breath from the extra garlic on your deep dish Chicago pizza. Take extra steps to make the weekend a cheerful, joyous, stress free one for all!
Change / cash for toll booths – If you plan on driving in to the Chicago area at all, make sure you have loose change and cash on hand for parking, toll booths and various expenses.
Directions to places you may want to see in Chicago – In my experience, a GPS can get really spotty once you get into the downtown areas. So it’s a good idea to know where you are going, what the address is, and a the directions for getting there instead of embarking on a point by point Google maps excursion.
Letters for your sailor – I have been writing to my husband every single day since he departed for Navy Boot Camp two months ago. Even though I’ve had to stop sending letters with his PIR date approaching, I have not stopped writing them. I plan to bring the unsent letters for him to read on his plane trip to A School.
Book for your sailor to read on the plane – I have not gotten a clear response on whether sailors will have room for an extra book on their flight to A School, but I figure it wouldn’t hurt to bring my bookworm baby a novel just in case. If he can’t take it, I’ll just have to bring it to him when I follow him to A School later.