Tips for Attending Military Events

Tips for Attending Military Events

If you love pomp and circumstance, military events are among some of the best in the world. Whether celebrating a triumph or remembering the fallen, these are great opportunities.

At Eventful Globe, we’ve attended our fair share of military events around the world – everything from Pearl Harbor Day in Hawaii to Russia’s Victory Day and Ho Chi Minh Day in Vietnam. We’ve seen them all!

Along the way, we’ve picked up some helpful advice on how to make the most of these unique and special events:

Photo of President Obama and Vice President Biden at ceremony
President Obama and Vice President Biden Attend Memorial Day Commemoration (Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia)

1. Check the details. Then double check.

If there’s one thing we can all learn from the armed forces, it’s attention to detail!

Make sure to confirm the recommended arrival time and location well in advance. If it’s a ticketed event, be sure to make reservations. Also ask about recommended transportation options, as parking may be limited or require special permits, and public transportation may operate on a modified schedule.

We’ve found that there aren’t always official websites for such events and, even when they exist, the information isn’t always up to date or extensive. Check our website to see if we have the event you’re attending– if we don’t, be sure to Contact Us and we’ll get right on the case (or if you’ve already attended, Share Your Story).

Photo of Ho Chi Minh Day ceremony in front of statue with large crowd and fireworks
Ho Chi Minh Day Celebrations (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

2. Expect Security

Almost every major military event will have elevated security in some way, shape, or form. This could be any or all of the following:

  • Checkpoints (bag searches and/or metal detectors)
  • Limitations (restrictions on what you’re allowed to bring)
  • Restricted access to landmarks/memorials

Plan ahead and arrive early. Dress and pack your bags accordingly to avoid delays. A good rule of thumb is to dress and pack as if you’re going to the airport for a flight.

Photo of Pearl Harbor Day Memorial Ceremony -- military official giving a speech in front of a memorial and flag at half mast
Pearl Harbor Day Memorial Ceremony (Pearl Harbor, Hawaii)

3. Follow the rules

Speaking of security, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with any rules and to be sure to follow them.

This is particularly important if there are high-level dignitaries attending – restrictions will be particularly inflexible, we’ve heard more than one horror story of people being forced to skip a major event due to some unsuspecting contraband (such as a tripod, large cooler bag, long camera lens etc.).

4. Grab a good seat (but not too good…)

Arriving early and grabbing a great seat is a smart move, but isn’t as easily as it sounds.

Many seats at these events are reserved for VIPs (including high-ranking officers, survivors, honored families, politicians, press, etc.), and we’ve found on more than one occasion that there aren’t always clear signs marking what’s open to the general public and what isn’t.

Be sure to ask an organizer what seats are available and will provide the best view of the event.

There’s nothing worse than getting there early and saving a seat only to be asked to move because you’re in the wrong section!

Large circular monument with eternal flame burning at the edges
Victory Monument (St. Petersburg, Russia)

5. See the nearby sights!

Many of these events take place near great memorials, museums, and landmarks.

Make the most of your event by taking in the sights. Many travelers are surprised to hear that major events often coincide with free or reduced prices and/or managable crowds.

Just as an example: visiting Pearl Harbor’s USS Arizona Memorial and Ford Island on Pearl Harbor Day allowed for free storage of backpacks and large bags (these are not permitted at any time and normally require a $5/bag fee). Additionally, free tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial tour were readily available on the day of the event, and crowds were light at the nearby and popular USS Missouri museum.

If you found these tips helpful, then you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Sign-up below to receive our free e-book with even more useful tips for eventful travel!

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