Navigating Chicago for Your Sailor’s Bootcamp Graduation

Your sailor graduating bootcamp is a HUGE deal. So, it makes sense that you’d want to be there for their big day. But since bootcamp graduation is the first military event that many people go to it can be tricky and really confusing. So, I rounded up a few pointers and tips that I remembered from Taylor’s graduation that may be helpful.

  1. The Graduation Itself

Sailors only get a limited number of tickets for family and friends to actually attend the graduation. Taylor has three brothers, two parents and a grandpa that all wanted to go and we hadn’t even started dating at the time so I was at the bottom of the list to attend and rightfully so. But I still wanted to support him so I sought out others ways of watching. If you aren’t able to actually attend the graduation some of the hotels in the area will play a live stream of it. That way you can watch at the hotel and be there to hangout with your sailor afterwards. Otherwise, the Navy’s website has a page where they live stream it as well.

I had to be at work the morning of his graduation so I brought my laptop and watched part of it on my break and then went and hang out with him afterwards. Nobody I saw was wearing anything super fancy. Prom wear is probably not a great idea. I wore a simple floral dress with some flats. The key is to look like you care and look presentable but don’t be obnoxious or too fancy.

hisfirstmate
What I wore to his graduation

 

…Which brings me to after the graduation. After they are allowed a little bit of time to hangout with family and friends and then they have to report back. It’s a pretty early night but believe me it is one of the best since you haven’t seen them in so long.

2. Traveling to Chicago

I convienetly already live in Chicago so no heavy traveling was required of me. But I understand that many families have to travel, some very far distances, to be here for their big day. So, here are some tips:

  1. Book your flight early. This should really be for any vacation you take. Book as early as you can for the best rates.
  2. Chicago has two airports: O’Hare and Midway. Both are pretty close in proximity but O’Hare is a hair closer than Midway. There is about a 30 minute travel difference depending on what time and day you are traveling.
  3. As for your hotel, I have heard pretty good reviews about the Navy Lodge. It is the closest place to the base that you can stay at. If the Navy Lodge is full there are many other hotels to choose from. Try and book as early as you can for your hotel too!

plane

3. If you are traveling ALL that way to Chicago…you need to actually see Chicago.

If you can, go to the city. Eat a deep dish pizza. See the lakefront. Look at all the strange people walking around. Watch where you are walking. Go take a million pictures of the bean. Go experience Chicago. And if you can, take your sailor with you because I’m sure what he has already experienced of Chicago hasn’t been that great.

 

Graduation is a big step. It’s just the start of the beginning and should be celebrated. And while it can be really stressful, I think the most important tip I could give you is to have fun. All your sailor wants to do is have fun and see you so don’t stress.

 

 

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