Warning: This message is being brought to you by the mother in me.
Sadly, like Michaeline, I will not be with the other Ladies at RWA Nationals in San Antonio next week. But I have attended Nationals (and other conferences, both writing- and non-writing related) in the past. I have learned the hard way that, unless you are a veteran business traveler, there are some ‘essentials’ that are easy to overlook when you are trying to maximize space in your suitcase.
So, as part of my ongoing quest to be a cautionary tale (because I am so rarely a good example), I bring you a list of conference packing recommendations.
*Two extra outfits. Yes, I know most airlines charge for checked bags, and I know you don’t want to wrangle multiple suitcases off the luggage conveyor belt. But there might very well come a conference day (let’s say Friday), when you get up, peer into the hotel closet, and realize you hate every damn thing you packed. Having a few alternatives on hand might save your sanity. (Note: This could also come in handy if you were to break a pen and have it leak black ink all over your favorite white blouse, forcing an unplanned wardrobe change. Not that this has *ahem” happened to anyone I know.
*Two extra pairs of shoes. Okay, yes, checked bags, yada yada. But at least consider one pair of shoes over and above the ones you are currently planning to pack. Even comfortable shoes (and no, that does not include sneakers!) can become much less friendly after you’ve walked back and forth across a conference hotel in them for eight hours. By the end of a second or third day of that, you could be desperately seeking a Payless Shoe Store or contemplating wearing your sneakers outside of the hotel gym (don’t do it!).
*Bandaids (or non-brand name plastic bandages). I recommend a variety of these. First and foremost, get the newfangled ones made for blisters. These are akin to manna from heaven when those ‘comfortable shoes’ turn on you. But don’t forget other types and sizes for the various minor injuries that could be sustained during the conference (for instance, cutting one’s finger on a stiletto heel while using it to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew).
*A corkscrew. Do not assume all conference hotel gift shops sell these. A surprising number of them do not. If you are traveling by plane, obviously this will have to go in your checked luggage (you are going to check luggage – remember your extra outfits and shoes? – make peace with this fact!).
*Over the counter meds. We typically remember to pack our prescriptions, but might assume that a) we will not need other meds, b) the hotel will have any over-the-counter things we might need, or c) there will be a drug store within reasonable distance from the hotel. These assumptions could prove to be ill-advised. Examples of the types of meds you might want to toss into your toiletry bag include stomach aids (conference food), allergy pills (if you suffer from any type of allergy, assume you will be highly allergic to something in the hotel or some local flora and fauna), and your choice of headache/muscle ache relief tablets (think about all the walking and the stress of pitching!).
For those of you fortunate enough to be traveling to Nationals next week, I wish you safe travels and a wonderful conference experience. For those not making the trip, be sure to drop by the blog. We will be going strong all week, and I am pretty sure our conference attendees will have exciting tidbits (and hopefully pictures!) to share here.
What items are on your ‘must-pack’ list for conferences or business trips?