NROTC Life: How to plan family travel

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Mcchen

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Hi- my son got a NROTC scholarship and is assigned to NSI Iteration 2. He was assigned based on the information he provided in the NSI questionnaire. I waited for his assignment to finalize travel arrangements for our family vacation this summer. I have read about "hurry up and wait" and "needs of the Navy" and last minute changes to assignments etc. I understand that. I saw someone on the NROTC Parent FB page today post about being assigned to NSI 1 but now learning they are being switched to NSI 2 or 3.

I wanted to ask those of you with more experience for practical advice on how you plan family vacations or any travel around NROTC assignments (NSI and other). For example, do you always pay extra to buy refundable airline tickets/hotels/etc? Do you just have to go on the trip without your kid and be ok with that?

How frequently do these changes happen-- a ball park probability would help me think about this. Like 10% or 90%? I booked tickets for our family vacation, and I'm about to book travel arrangements for NSI graduation. (e.g., Should I book NSI graduation travel after he actually leaves for NSI because that's the only way to know for sure which NSI graduation he will be at?). This is new to us-- I would appreciate any wisdom and practical tips :). Thank you!
 
Your son is just about launched from the nest, and once he embarks on the military path, “Semper Gumby” (always flexible, a play on the Gumby cartoon character) becomes the norm.

Plan as best you can, but prepare for change and late notice. Much depends on your risk management tolerances.

Your son will miss many family events and occasions in the coming years of training and then active duty. The bonus will be going to visit him at some wonderful duty station.

I realize I am not giving you specific guidance or percentages. There is no way of predicting whether or not his NSI date can change, just the awareness that it can.

Make the best plans you can, build in as much flexibility as you can afford, and learn to smile through it all. He has won a great scholarship that will set him upon a path of growth and adventure for the next several years. Rejoice in that, figure out the rest as you go.

And, once he gets through this first year, coach and teach him on planning his own travel. That is a life skill military members become adept at, and he might as well start doing it for himself.
 
Semper Gumby....Always Flexible. That will be a motto you will say many times from now on. There will be less available dates that you can confidently schedule a vacation that you know your DS will be included in. I recommend refundable tickets for your DS for any summer vacation in the near future. Winter break, Spring break, Fall break will be more sold as for as dates of availability as they are usually dates that the units don't have something big. Though then your DS might want to go with friends instead of with family.

The summers in NROTC are always in flux. It is a good chance he will still be at NSI 2 this summer, but it could change. It would likely go to NSI 3 versus 1, but no guarantee.

As far as NSI graduation, I would buy refundable tickets also. Lots of things could come up that might mean no need for you to go to graduation. Another reason I would wait to get tickets is I would wait until you see what flight your DS has coming back home so you can get the same flight. You might not be able to sit together, but being at the airport waiting for the flight is great because you get to speak to your new MIDN alot more than at the base. My wife and I did that with our DS and it was great.

Look at flights after noon on the day of graduation going from Chicago to where he will fly back too...You will get a idea of which flight he will likely be on.
 
A NROTC Mom, a year in, and a planner by trade - and yes - Southwest is our preferred airline - it takes a bit of looking at all options and targeting the part in the middle. Cortramid West and East don't overlap - so we picked the part of the summer where neither are occurring and are hoping to pull off a family trip in that timeframe! So far, so good. Hang in there - it is a GREAT program if that is what your DS/DD wants. Ours is thrilled!
 
A NROTC Mom, a year in, and a planner by trade - and yes - Southwest is our preferred airline - it takes a bit of looking at all options and targeting the part in the middle. Cortramid West and East don't overlap - so we picked the part of the summer where neither are occurring and are hoping to pull off a family trip in that timeframe! So far, so good. Hang in there - it is a GREAT program if that is what your DS/DD wants. Ours is thrilled!
This is the new normal for NROTC parents. If anyone is like my family. We have champagne dreams on a beer budget when it comes to vacations. We use to be able to plan ahead of time and search out deals and off season bargains. When the kids hit high school, that became harder since missing school was more costly, so that left summer. Now with NROTC, summer vacation opportunties have limited options even more.......aka new normal. We will have to adjust and find vacations that maybe are closer or easier to plan on short notice.

I also see it as getting use to the future as in a few years DS will likely not be apart of any family vacations because of deployments.....Not fun to think about
 
This is the new normal for NROTC parents. If anyone is like my family. We have champagne dreams on a beer budget when it comes to vacations. We use to be able to plan ahead of time and search out deals and off season bargains. When the kids hit high school, that became harder since missing school was more costly, so that left summer. Now with NROTC, summer vacation opportunties have limited options even more.......aka new normal. We will have to adjust and find vacations that maybe are closer or easier to plan on short notice.

I also see it as getting use to the future as in a few years DS will likely not be apart of any family vacations because of deployments.....Not fun to think about
During shore duty, your DS can be the key to great vacations under his sponsorship at military resorts, beach cabins, etc., around the world. Here’s a glimpse:

 
If you are planning a significant vacation that requires lots of planning and expense, talk to the chain of command way in advance. They will make no promises but in most cases will try to accommodate and protect your plans. The vacation plans must reach a certain criteria for how hard they will fight for you. For example, asking special consideration to go to COMICON won't motivate your leaders to fall on their swords for you.

None of this is a guarantee, of course.
 
Thank you @Capt MJ, @Ihavenoidea, @Chip07, @Zaphod Beeblebrox . So much helpful information here. This new way of life is just hitting us and and it came quickly (I'm such a planner too!) . It's much easier to accept/embrace the new mindset hearing from those who have gone before us, knowing that this is the new normal. I can do Semper Gumby :). Thank you for the wisdom, practical tips and encouragement. There will be ways to connect as a family but these times will just be different. I am SO proud that DS has made the choice to go down this path, and excited to be on it with him. All advice welcome!
 
Also be aware:
These kids are so fired up they will throw their family, their troops, and themselves under the bus rather than raise their hand to request assistance.

To wit:
DS just did a weekend field exercise. Mom's 50th birthday was the Sunday they returned and we had a huuuuuge surprise party planned with many important people to us coming in from out of state. DS's bus was coming within 10 miles of us so I told him to have his bus drop him at that exit's gas station and we'd get him. He freaked out and refused. He was afraid of being weak, didnt want or have the courage to ask. So he missed a huge family event for no reason other than being afraid to ask. One of the few times I've been ashamed of him. I had to crush him so he would never inflict unnecessary family pain on his Marines.
When his mother is dead he will not be proud of his cowardice and inability to listen to those who know.

This sounds harsher than what I actually mentored DS on but my point is valid.
 
During shore duty, your DS can be the key to great vacations under his sponsorship at military resorts, beach cabins, etc., around the world. Here’s a glimpse:

File this under VERY useful information....Thank you!
 
File this under VERY useful information....Thank you!
There was another thread on this recently - detailed websites. I’d have to go look for my post on that. One of the cool things is often the room rate is pegged to the rank. O-1 pays far less than this retired O-6!
 
Also be aware:
These kids are so fired up they will throw their family, their troops, and themselves under the bus rather than raise their hand to request assistance.

To wit:
DS just did a weekend field exercise. Mom's 50th birthday was the Sunday they returned and we had a huuuuuge surprise party planned with many important people to us coming in from out of state. DS's bus was coming within 10 miles of us so I told him to have his bus drop him at that exit's gas station and we'd get him. He freaked out and refused. He was afraid of being weak, didnt want or have the courage to ask. So he missed a huge family event for no reason other than being afraid to ask. One of the few times I've been ashamed of him. I had to crush him so he would never inflict unnecessary family pain on his Marines.
When his mother is dead he will not be proud of his cowardice and inability to listen to those who know.

This sounds harsher than what I actually mentored DS on but my point is valid.
Agree this does sound harsh and your point presents as disproportional. One option would be to have his back instead of eviscerating your adult son/ calling him a coward, calling his courage into question. He's living in that unit, knows their culture and perhaps he made the correct decision for his career to not even ask, even if that disappointed his parents to not recommend they re-route the bus so one individual can get off before returning from a F.E. Maybe he's watched the last 5 deviation from plan requests get swiftly denied so he knew not to bother? COC may not, for insurance/ liability or protocol reasons, be willing or able to do that. I know for many travels in ROTC and active duty, my DS did not have the option to change what was planned.

Consider supporting your children, even when they disappoint you and try to keep proportionality /measure your responses, and avoid histrionics - this was an adult birthday party, right, not the queen's jubilee or a sibling wedding. Pro tip - next time, facetime with him when he's available, and walk "him" around the party so he can participate and socialize with your wife and attendees, sing along, even if he's on a bus, or in Bahrain, Baghdad, or on a carrier.
 
You are so completely 100% wrong.
First this was on the way back from from the exercise and the 3 minutes to drop someone by the side of the road is inconsequential.
Second, if the unit "culture" is such that this tiny request would be looked on unfavorably or would negatively impact my DS, it would have to be about the worst unit ever with the worst leadership ever.
I don't know how on earth you can endorse leadership crapping on families for no good reason and that you'd tell aspiring officers to crap on their families. You call that taking care of your people? Because of how I handled this teaching moment, my DS will be a leader that will now be more aware and mindful of how to take care of his Marines and their families.
This will make an impact down stream for many people for years. And your idea of leadership is "suck it up, buttercup"?
Our service personnel and their families deserve better than what you are offering.
There will be innumerable times when real operational requirements will keep our service members from being there for their families. I deployed twice within 5 days of the birth of both of our two kids. So many others weren't so fortunate to even be there. So when the mission allows any chance of taking care of people and family then do it. Full Stop. No excuses. No caveats. Does not matter how big or how small the event.
 
COC may not, for insurance/ liability or protocol reasons, be willing or able to do that. I know for many travels in ROTC and active duty, my DS did not have the option to change what was planned.
This 💯…. I can’t imagine any organization that would drop off someone they are responsible for at an exit & hope for the best. Maybe there was an option to go pick him up from the ROTC event?

For some reason we were assigned to the HS furtherest away from our house (kids have done very well there so we don’t complain… anymore 😂). So.many.times in almost a decade of sporting events they have driven past our house on the way home. Like dozens. We joke - “hey, have the bus driver drop you off at ______” - I would never ask that for real. Is there an option for us to sign some forms so we can drive them home from the event & save us a 1/2 hr round trip ride to pick them up? Absolutely. Will our kids do it? Absolutely not. Why? Because they are part of the team.

Our awesome kids chosen this route. We need to support them. Don’t think DS #2 will make his youngest brother’s HS graduation or his oldest brother’s commissioning ceremony. If he gets anymore scholarships, he’ll miss the award ceremonies. It sucks. But I’m so proud of them & support them no matter what. We’ll probably get a “big head” of him so he can be in some pictures 😜 & hopefully he can FaceTime when everyone’s around & he can at least say “hi”.
 
This 💯…. I can’t imagine any organization that would drop off someone they are responsible for at an exit & hope for the best. Maybe there was an option to go pick him up from the ROTC event?

For some reason we were assigned to the HS furtherest away from our house (kids have done very well there so we don’t complain… anymore 😂). So.many.times in almost a decade of sporting events they have driven past our house on the way home. Like dozens. We joke - “hey, have the bus driver drop you off at ______” - I would never ask that for real. Is there an option for us to sign some forms so we can drive them home from the event & save us a 1/2 hr round trip ride to pick them up? Absolutely. Will our kids do it? Absolutely not. Why? Because they are part of the team.

Our awesome kids chosen this route. We need to support them. Don’t think DS #2 will make his youngest brother’s HS graduation or his oldest brother’s commissioning ceremony. If he gets anymore scholarships, he’ll miss the award ceremonies. It sucks. But I’m so proud of them & support them no matter what. We’ll probably get a “big head” of him so he can be in some pictures 😜 & hopefully he can FaceTime when everyone’s around & he can at least say “hi”.
They are adults, not children so within a normal risk assessment, accountability, and recovery activities, dropping them off would be just fine. This is no longer kiddie sports.
We attend our kids sporting events, too. Sometimes an hour away. Normally the kids drive on the bus home when we could take them because they are part of the team but there are exceptions to that. And I don't hesitate or even think twice about executing those exceptions because life is too short and family too important to miss opportunities unnecessarily.
 
You are so completely 100% wrong.
First this was on the way back from from the exercise and the 3 minutes to drop someone by the side of the road is inconsequential.
Second, if the unit "culture" is such that this tiny request would be looked on unfavorably or would negatively impact my DS, it would have to be about the worst unit ever with the worst leadership ever.
I don't know how on earth you can endorse leadership crapping on families for no good reason and that you'd tell aspiring officers to crap on their families. You call that taking care of your people? Because of how I handled this teaching moment, my DS will be a leader that will now be more aware and mindful of how to take care of his Marines and their families.
This will make an impact down stream for many people for years. And your idea of leadership is "suck it up, buttercup"?
Our service personnel and their families deserve better than what you are offering.
There will be innumerable times when real operational requirements will keep our service members from being there for their families. I deployed twice within 5 days of the birth of both of our two kids. So many others weren't so fortunate to even be there. So when the mission allows any chance of taking care of people and family then do it. Full Stop. No excuses. No caveats. Does not matter how big or how small the event.
Thank you for sharing your response/ perspective with me and the community. Wow, adult birthday parties are very important to you, eh? Here's the scoop - try to not put down your own children to others - it's just not a good look. Try to avoid histrionics and drama - instead try proportionality - look I know many adults who see their adult children once a year for a holiday and are otherwise estranged, in some cases directly because they didn't believe in or support their children. We have great relationships with all of our children and I never once have put them down to others (well, I did on this board acknowledge that years prior, my DS's haircut made him look like a punk when he was like 8, but otherwise - yep, nope, never-ever) - because only a certain type of parent would actually put down their own kid to others, or call them a coward for making a business decision - it takes incredible lack of awareness to not realize you're being hysterical about a silly bday party - using your analogy - in 50 years, who will care whether he attended a party - other than you, who will have this moment on his tombstone. Currahee! Birthday Party! Geronimo! Good luck to you.
 
He was afraid of being weak, didnt want or have the courage to ask. So he missed a huge family event for no reason other than being afraid to ask. One of the few times I've been ashamed of him. I had to crush him so he would never inflict unnecessary family pain on his Marines.
When his mother is dead he will not be proud of his cowardice and inability to listen to those who know.
This is a way over the top reaction to missing a birthday party.
They are adults, not children so within a normal risk assessment, accountability, and recovery activities, dropping them off would be just fine.

I agree that these MIDNs are adults; therefore, they can make there own decisions about where they want to go and how they get there. They can also deal with the pros and cons of that decision. Wither we like that decision or not. These statements seem to be from a parent still angry about their son not doing what they are told rather than the decision the son made. I understand being disappointed about your DS not being there, but making a statement about how guilty he will feel when his mother is dead is pretty over the top, but it is your son and you decide how you want to handle your relationship with him. Your a adult too. I just wouldn't have bad mouthed my son to the world on a internet forum even if it is anonymous.
 
Thank you for sharing your response/ perspective with me and the community. Wow, adult birthday parties are very important to you, eh? Here's the scoop - try to not put down your own children to others - it's just not a good look. Try to avoid histrionics and drama - instead try proportionality - look I know many adults who see their adult children once a year for a holiday and are otherwise estranged, in some cases directly because they didn't believe in or support their children. We have great relationships with all of our children and I never once have put them down to others (well, I did on this board acknowledge that years prior, my DS's haircut made him look like a punk when he was like 8, but otherwise - yep, nope, never-ever) - because only a certain type of parent would actually put down their own kid to others, or call them a coward for making a business decision - it takes incredible lack of awareness to not realize you're being hysterical about a silly bday party - using your analogy - in 50 years, who will care whether he attended a party - other than you, who will have this moment on his tombstone. Currahee! Birthday Party! Geronimo! Good luck to you.
I'm not "hysterical" about a birthday party. I recognized that DS lacked the moral courage to ask about it. It is actually quite normal to be reluctant to request things from your chain of command because you don't want to be thought of as a sniveler or high mantainance. It has to be de-stigmatized like seeking counseling for PTSD. I mentored DS appropriately.

I believe in taking care of my people as much as possible. No event too big or too small. You disagree and belittle this idea.

As far as my verbiage, this is a message board where I am trying to make a point / break a mold and encourage people to engage their chain of command appropriately to improve the quality of their and their families lives.

Do you have any idea of how many times I found out about a subordinate who suffered silently when it was entirely preventable if they had spoken up? I use strong language and an exageration of my displeasure with my son's hesitancy as a parable. My son is fantastic and i couldnt be prouder. That doesn't mean he doesn't need development or is flawless.

And to your idea of "50 years from now who will care if he missed a birthday party?" DS will.
 
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