This site is for mothers of kids in the U.S. Navy and for Moms who have questions about Navy life for their kids.

Navy Social Links Para Padres

Visite esta página para explorar en su idioma las oportunidades de educación y carreras para sus hijos en el Navy.

Format Downloads:

First Time Here?

Before you get started, make sure to read over our Community Guidelines.

Create a profile so you can post Photos and Videos of your son or daughter and share stories with other moms.

If you’re looking for specific answers or just someone to talk with one-on-one, browse the Forums or search Members profiles.

Navy Speak

See this PDF for Navy Speak

N4M Merchandise


**Please note: Profits generated in the production of this merchandise are not being awarded to the Navy or any of its suppliers. Any profit made is retained by cafepress or zazzle


My daughter graduated RTC on October 16. This is my version of PIR and hopefully it will act to help guide those of you that are coming to their first PIR. Sorry for spelling errors


Airfare early. Airfare from Calif to Chicago cost me $216 round trip by booking 6 weeks in advance. If she had delayed graduation I would have been assessed a $125 change penalty but that was well worth it. The same airfare two days before her graduation was $706 r/t. Use Expedia or some similiar source to help you find airfare bargains.

Having grown up in NYC, I originally intened to take public transportation to Great Lakes from O Hare. I though Metra would be a fun way to travel. I booked a red eye at 1:30am leaving Ca and got in Chcago at 1030am. I figured I would have the whole day to travel. What I found out is the Metra system, while cheap, is a long haul and with transfers would have gotten me into Great Lakes about 400pm that day. Also cab would have run $75-100 each trip from the RTC to O Hare. Since she was Grad and Go, I did not find out until the day of graduation what airport she was flying out of. A shuttle from RTC to Ohare would run about $50 one way. You can split this but the bottom line is a car rental from Enterprise ran me $28 a day for three days. A bargain considering the mobility. Get a car by all means.

When traveling on the toll roads most of the lanes are for I-Pass, a local electronic toll system. If you get in an I-pass lane by accident, you will get a violation in a couple of weeks by mail. Stay in your far right hand lanes when approaching toll plazas. Carry lots of quarters and nickels with you (some toll are $.80)

Drive by the RTC gates and see the area so you know the roads a little. If you are Grad and Go, like my daughter was., they will leave around 100pm on PIR day to go the the airport they have been told about the day before. You will get to spend about 1 to 1.5 hours before they have to go back and get ready. Once you know the airport you can get there and get a visitors gate pass from the airline the sailors check in at. (This was true for Midway..not sure about O Hare) I got to spend 5 hours with her at the airport so it was worth the trip to Great Lakes. Anyhow back to parking. Two statements. Unless you are Grad and not drive to the RTC. You will wait on line for a long time to get in and get out. If you leave your car at the Hotel and take a shuttle from the hotel ($3 for PIR), you will be on base in 15 minutes. Getting back is just as fast and easy, your shuttle driver will tell you when and where to meet. Take your sailor back to the hotel and then get your car.

If you are Grad and Go, take your car to the RTC the night before PIR, call hotel shuttle company and ask them to pick you up at the Metra Station by the RTC in a half hour. Drive to the RTC, the gate will be on your right for the RTC. Go about 150 feet further, the road will go downhill slightly, make a right hand turn at the light (Ohio ) and this will take you into the Metra station parking lot. For $2.00 you can park overnight in the designated overnight spaces. Put the money (use quarters) in the box at the beginning of the lot. Wait for your cab and go back to the hotel. If you want go back down the road and make a right under the tunnel and then turn right up the path to the Metra ticket office. There are usaully cabs waiting here but if you don't want to chance it, just precall a cab like I suggested. A cab ride from RTC Metra to the Residence Inn was about $10 and well worth it. Next day your car is close by and you can walk out the RTC gate and your car is about 300 feet away and you missed all the base traffic. Kill about an hour on base at the NEX and the traffic really dies down. Graduation ends at 1030 and I left base about 1200..


Lots of good hotels but the Residence Inn by Marriot in Waukegan was the best for me. The least expensive close hotel is the Navy Lodge at $65 a night.The Resdience Inn has a real home atmosphere with a sofa , desk and kitchen and is perfect to sit with your sailor and spend some quality relaxed time. You can get cheap food across at Super Walmart on Waukegan Road to stock up you fridge for your family. $89 a night on top of great accomodations.They have the best Graduation Info Packet for PIR I have seen of any hotel in the area.


If you get the on the 630 shuttle, you will spend a lot of time sitting so be prepared. On the other hand you will have your chaoice of seats. Balcony seating is tough for pictures because you can stand up and the railing may block your camera view. The floor seating is good but your division will stand about one division to the right of where you are seated. There are no bad seats but light in the hall is bad for cameras so plan on buying pictures and enjoy the show.The NEX will have a Division photo taken that morning of PIR for $8 for an 8 x 10 It is a life changing experince you will never forget.

No pictures outside the the PIR hall. You could lose your camera to security. Take all your sailor pics back at the hotel or inside the PIR hall.


Go to the Navy Pier and ShorelineSighting Cruises Architectural Tour of Chicago. Cool boat tour

Also go to Millennium Park in Chicago. Unreal architecture and sights

Go to the Gurnee Mall. Lots of outlet stores

Sorry...did not eat out so cannot help you thert although the Residence Inn has a massive list of nearby places to eat in the PIR handout.

Just one persons experience but I hope it helps.

Views: 20646

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

This was a huge help as my son graduates Feb. 18th. It's nice to know what to expect.Thank you for sharing this valuable information. Navy Mom, Julie


This is helpful!  Thank you!  I'm from CA and am also staying at the Residence Inn~
How far of a walk is it from the base gate to the PIR site?  We think we would like to shuttle, but I don't want to walk a mile.  Also, is there a NEX outside the base that is large?  Thanks for your help...we leave Thursday, March 10 for Great Lakes,,,graduation Friday the 11th...

I know this is too late for this person, but for others, it is about 100 yards to the Visitors Center from the gate and then about the same to the Drill Hall.

The gate is right by the drill hall's west entrance. If a shuttle drops you off at the gate or you park at the Metra station, it is a 30 second walk and much easier than parking by the church on the base.

There is a parking garage adjacent to the Visitors Center, so you don't park by the church any more.

Very good information....thank you so much



Anyone stay at the Red Carpet Inn on Buckley Road?  After reading some of the replies I am really getting nervous.  I am coming from Eastern PA and will be driving!!  My son's PIR is June 10th.



I haven't read anything good about it. My feeling is that it is a dive.

Very helpful thanks ..


This is helpful.  Is it possible to go to PIR early and save a seat. My husband would prefer to go later.

We are planning on driving from Missouri there.  When our son sent us the Information, there was a brochure included of places to stay and the Navy Lodge is no where on that advertisement.  Instead we've booked a room at Red Roof Inn, it seemed to have the lowest rates and was the closest in distance to the PIR place. 

How soon will we know whether or not our Son is a Grad and Go or NOT? 


© 2016   Created by Navy for Moms Admin.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service