Military life isn’t exactly known for being comfortable and fun. However, you can make it a little less painful by preparing your loved ones with some of these creature comforts. These items make great gifts, whether it’s the December holidays, a birthday, or pre-deployment.
Note: As much as I love a good surprise, I strongly suggest that you talk to your service member before buying any of these items. They probably have a much better idea of what sort of items will suit their particular job, duty station, or voyage. There’s a huge difference between being on a sub vs. living in your truck vs. sharing a former shipping container with a couple of your closest friends. There are also wide varieties in what sort of items will be available at the deployment location.
Headphones and Earbuds
Noise-cancelling headphones are great for shared spaces, and wireless options are more affordable than ever. Durable earbuds even come in noise-cancelling options. Your base exchange probably has a good selection for better-than-average prices.
Tablet With Keyboard
Everyone loves a good tablet, but adding a keyboard pushes the tablet into a whole new dimension. In many cases, you can skip the laptop altogether. They are available in a variety of brands, screen sizes, and memory capacities.
I think my husband was skeptical when I bought him a keyboard for his tablet, but he has repeatedly said how much he likes it, and I see him using it all the time. Especially on deployments where space is an issue, a tablet with a keyboard is a great alternative to a laptop.
A Solid Flashlight
A reliable flashlight is a deployment necessity. Different deployments have different needs, so ask before you buy. Considerations include whether they can recharge batteries, how strong it needs to be or if it needs to have low settings, and whether there is a need for different color lens. Don’t forget that mailing batteries overseas is a problem, so send lots of spares if recharging isn’t an option.
Navy Only: Amazing Rack Curtains
Owned and operated by a Navy spouse, Navy Rack Packs offers custom rack curtains with integral storage, specially designed for nearly every berthing situation. Contact them to figure out the right curtain for your sailor, and tell them that Kate sent you!
I put off purchasing a subscription to Amazon Prime because I thought it was just free shipping. I was so wrong! In addition to free books and free music, Amazon Prime video offers thousands of free movies and television shows. If your deployed service member will have access to wifi, a subscription to Amazon Prime is a great value.
Another option is a Kindle Unlimited subscription. Start off with a 30 day free trial, then it is just $9.99 per month for unlimited reading on a large portion of the available Kindle books and audiobooks. Not every title is included, but it can still be a great value. And you don’t have to have a Kindle device to read and listen to Kindle books – it works on phones, iPods, and laptops, too.
Regardless of where you buy them, nice sheets can make deployment a lot more comfortable. A mid-color print will hide a lot of wear and tear, and tan or khaki colors won’t show fading and discoloration from washing in weird situations.
Memory Foam Mattress Topper
I’ve sent a memory foam mattress topper on every deployment. My husband cuts it down to fit his bed, and leaves it for the next person when he comes home. They come packaged tightly. Sometimes they’ll ship to an APO/FPO, sometimes they won’t. If they don’t, have it sent to your house and send it on without unpacking. Once the topper is out of the packaging, you’ll never get it that small again!
Good Shower Shoes and Toiletries
If your service member will be sharing a shower, solid shower shoes and a comfortable way to carry toiletries can make life a lot easier. I like this toiletry bag from LL Bean: it hangs well in the open position and is available in a bunch of sizes. Microfiber towels take up less room and dry super-fast, plus they make a good light blanket in a pinch.
Favorite toiletries might not be available, so stock up on essentials. Don’t forget that aerosol shaving cream can’t be mailed – lotion or solid options work well. Other popular items include baby wipes, hand sanitizer, bug repellent, and Bio-Freeze or Tiger Balm to soothe tired muscles.
Obviously, there are a million things that could make a deployment more comfortable, and I’m sure you have great ideas I’ve never even considered. Please share your thoughts in the comments so we can all learn!
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