Updated: Military Graduation Packing Tips

Mar 8, 2022, 11:33 AM

**Updated from a previous blog post**

You’ve purchased your ticket, you have your hotel and rental car booked, and now you’re counting down the days. Your suitcase is open on your bed…empty…and you’re trying to find the answer to the inevitable question: what do I bring?!

Military graduations are fun, festive events, but as with everything in the military there’s also some pomp and circumstance, which can make packing stressful...especially if this is your first time visiting a military installation.

Take a deep breath and let go of the worry – we’re here to help!

Below is a list of quick packing tips we recommend for your graduation trip so that you look great, you’re comfortable, and you’re ready to celebrate your new Soldier!

  1. Basic travel size toiletries and anything else you might need to get ready, including hair spray, make up, contact lens solution, etc. Check and double-check and then relax about these things. You can always buy anything you might’ve forgotten when you arrive to Fort Leonard Wood. If you’ll be carrying your suitcase on, remember to make sure any liquids are in containers that are 3 oz or smaller.
  2. A jacket and umbrella. Our Midwest weather is known to change in an instant. Be prepared for wet weather with these items. If your ceremony will be held outside, you might also consider bug spray and sunscreen in the spring and summer.
  3. Use Ziploc baggies for everything – large ones and small ones. Anyone who’s ever had a bottle of shampoo or lotion explode in your suitcase can back us up here. 
  4. Roll your clothes instead of fold them, especially that special graduation ceremony outfit. You’ll get less wrinkles and it takes up less space. Also, ladies, consider a dress made from a jersey-type material. These hardly ever wrinkle and are great for travel!
  5. Ladies, stick with a main color theme (black, brown, navy, etc.) so you can bring one purse or pair of shoes that will match everything. Remember, if you'll be attending ceremonies outdoors, heels could pose some problems. Flats will keep you from sinking into the ground...and you'll be able to run to your Soldier much faster!
  6. Pack one extra outfit. Something comfortable to change into if you decide to go out to dinner or to a movie. This could also double as your travel outfit to save room in your suitcase.
  7. Toss in a travel sewing kit. If something is going to rip or tear, it always seems to happen when you’re away from home. This will also come in handy if your Soldier somehow loses a button on his or her uniform.
  8. A comfortable face mask. Fort Leonard Wood's mask guidance changes frequently and it is strictly enforced. Click here to view the latest mask guidance for the installation.

Overall, when you’re packing outfits for graduation, think about what you’d be comfortable wearing to church and go that route. Your new Soldier’s Drill Sergeant and other senior military leaders will be in attendance, as well as their spouses. It is a small Army and you’ll probably see these people again, so take this opportunity to make a great first impression.

One other quick tip, remember to test every outfit first by sitting, standing, jumping, and running in it. It has been awhile since you’ve seen your Soldier and you’re going to want to get to him or her quickly, so the last thing you want is to trip and fall as you’re trying to reach your Soldier.

What else are you planning to toss in your suitcase that we might've missed?

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