The Top 5 Secret Tips for Basic Training

The Top 5 Secret Tips for Basic Training Success

I have spoken to thousands of recruits, countless drill sergeants, and hundreds of soldiers about basic training. Many recruits aren’t aware that they can learn secret tips before arriving at basic training to make boot camp much more enjoyable. Therefore, I bring you the top 5 secret tips you should know before you arrive at boot camp.

Top 5 Secret Tips You Should Know Before You Arrive at Boot Camp:

5) Experiment with Phone Cards

Staying in contact with friends and family is a necessity for your mental well being at basic training. However, phone cards often include advertisements and long operator recordings. After you finish dialing your long access code, an operator will give you further instructions, which for the most part you will not need to know, or already know. This process wastes valuable time when you only have a few minutes to talk to your loved ones. Experiment before you leave for boot camp and find a phone card that has no advertisements and allows you to connect with your family quickly.

4) Don’t Let Your Luggage Get You in Trouble

Your first day of basic training will undoubtedly be your most memorable. On this day, you will meet your drill sergeants. I can tell you from experience that the first thing a drill sergeant looks at is your luggage. If they see anything but plain black luggage you are asking for push ups. Do not bring luggage with flowers, bright colors, designer labels, or anything that draws attention to you.

3) Break the Habit

Tobacco products, alcoholic drinks, and even snacking are addictive and none of them are allowed at basic training. In boot camp you will have access to 3 meals a day. You will not get smoke breaks, you will not get to go out for beers with your buddies, and you will definitely not get chocolate cake for dessert. I suggest you break your habits before arriving at boot camp. In my book, I always stress it is easier to break habits under your own terms rather than your drill sergeant’s terms.

2) Bring the Ink

You will be issued many items at basic training and if you don’t keep track of everything, you will pay for it. Unfortunately, recruits tend to lose or damage some of their equipment. Instead of telling their drill sergeants, some recruits are prone to taking equipment from others. Bring a black marker to prevent your items from getting lost or stolen. With this marker you can initial and label everything you own. Having a marker with you will ensure that nothing you own accidentally turns up missing. You will also make a few friends because recruits who did not bring a marker with them will want to borrow yours; you can never have too many friends at basic training.

1) Happy Stomachs Equal Happy Recruits

Learn how to eat a MRE before you leave for basic training. MRE stands for Meal, Ready-to-Eat. I explain how to eat MREs in my book. Unfortunately, the first time you see an MRE you will be in the field and your drill sergeant will give you 10 minutes to eat one. However, it takes most recruits about 15 minutes to learn how to open and heat their meal. This will be your lunch, your dinner, and sometimes even your breakfast. You do not get many luxuries in basic training, so at least make sure you eat well.

SGT Michael Volkin is the author of The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook, available in both paperback and e-book format at