Friday, July 18, 2008

The Comprehensive Must-Have Magical Mystical Packing List

I had a panic attack earlier this week. I'd lost my packing list. This was a problem. This wasn't just some piece of scratch paper with a couple things doodled on it. This was The Comprehensive, Must-Have, Magical, Mystical, Packing List. Its a computer file I use for all my trips. It even has a special version just for Nationals. And it was gone. Poof. Not on my hard drive at work. Not on my hard drive at home. Not on my flash drive. Perhaps I'd gotten over-zealous cleaning stuff off my flash drive and dumped it on accident. What tragedy! Alas, I borrowed PC's list and used it to rebuild my own. I thought I would share it with all of you because it is so handy. Use this to develop your own Comprehensive Must-Have Magical Mystical Packing List and save it someplace special. (Personally, I know that by posting it in the blog, I will never lose it - it will always live in the archives!)

My list is broken into sections, starting with what I'm wearing on the plane. These are usually items that are too bulky to pack and comfortable for travel. Jeans, a sweater and sneakers are must haves in my book and I've racked up my share of airline miles in them. Planes get cold and I've been so happy to have my sweater instead of wearing shorts and flip flops like all the other tourists.

Wear on Plane
  • Shirt
  • Jeans
  • Sweater
  • Sneakers
  • Socks

Then I have the list of what goes in my backpack. I like backpacks because my hands are free, but this could be your carry on, your toiletry bag...whatever. Just make sure these items are in a bag you physically have custody of at all times. You'll notice mine includes several things for the workshop we're doing on Friday. Must have that stuff. You don't want it to end up in Seattle while you're waiting in California.


  • Plane Itinerary
  • Camera & Battery Charger
  • Cell Phone & Charger
  • Workshop Stuff - Laptop & Accessories, Flash Drive w/any necessary files, Handouts & Notecards
  • 1 extra pair of panties & socks (just in case)
  • Book to read on the plane
  • ID and/or Passport (I keep this and some cash in an easily accessible pocket - one that zips for security - for the 20 times I have to get it out to travel. This is mainly because of the next item.)
  • Purse (I transition to a smaller purse and stuff it inside my backpack so I have less to carry. This makes it harder to get to, so I take a few essentials out for the day. Even though you won't need your keys, be sure to carry them with you as well so you have them when you get home.)
  • Snacks (They don't feed you on planes anymore, so this is a MUST. Its also good to have once you get to Nationals so you have something to eat aside from the overpriced hotel food.)
  • Prescription Medication (Never, ever check your pills with your luggage.)
  • Travel Alarm Clock (If you can't set your cell phone, and you can, I'm pretty sure)
  • Mini flashlight
  • Business Cards

Next is what goes in my toiletry bag. Mine is actually a small bag that fits inside my luggage, which is good considering all the charges for extra pieces these days. If you're carrying this on, remember all liquids, gels and aerosols must be smaller than 3 ounces and must all fit within a one quart ziplock bag. You have to pull this out and run it through the security x-ray separately. If you do check the bag, I still recommend putting liquids inside a ziploc bag in case a bottle comes open and leaks all over your clothes.

Toiletry Bag

  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss & Mouthwash
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush
  • Clips/Bands/Barettes
  • Shampoo & Conditioner (if you can use the hotel provided ones, ok, but my hair is too picky)
  • Lotion and Soap (I will use the hotel provided stuff, but if you can't, pack your own)
  • Hair Products - Gel, Hairspray, Mousse, Detangler
  • Hair Electronics - blow dryers, curling iron, flat iron, etc.
  • Makeup, brushes, cotton applicators
  • Moisturizer w/ SPF (you might also take outright sunblock if you'll be outside a lot)
  • Razor & Shaving gel
  • Feminine Hygiene (I always take an emergency stash just in case.)
  • OTC Meds - Pain Reliever, Antacids, Stomach Pills
  • Clear and colored nail polish & file for manicure fixes and hosiery runs
  • First Aid Kit & Extra bandaids (if you have to ask, you haven't read this blog for very long)
  • Mini Sewing Kit
  • Mini bottle of Downy Wrinkle Release Spray (another must on the Playground!)


  • Another copy of your flight itinerary in case your bag loses its ID tag
  • Panties x # of days, plus one
  • Sport or Trouser Socks x # of days needed
  • 2 pair pantyhose (I hate them, but its good to carry one pair JIC and an extra if it runs)
  • 1 regular bra & 1 strapless bra (as needed for formals, etc)
  • Spanx (the ever-so important foundation garment) & slips as needed
  • Casual tops x # of siteseeing/travel days
  • 1 pair jeans (if you aren't doing a lot of tourist stuff, this might not be necessary)
  • Waterproof Windbreaker (SFO is cool, wet and windy)
  • Pull over sweater (layers are good)
  • Gloves and a hat if its really cold by the water
  • Pajamas (I don't know how many times I stress over every outfit, then forget PJs)
  • Daytime Outfit Components (see breakdown below)
  • Party Outfits as needed for Ritas, etc.
  • Badge Lanyard with conference and chapter pins (RWA did a nice one in Reno for their Anniversary that had a pocket and a pen holder that I like to bring and use instead of the normal ones they usually have.)
  • Shoes - At a minimum, 2 pairs of comfortable casual shoes or sandals, 1 or 2 dress pairs for formals, maybe some slippers or flip flops if you're inclined to swim or visit the spa. If you coordinate your outfit to a color scheme, you can cut down to less. You could wear the same shoes every day if it matches, but I find even the most comfortable pair will start to rub and make your feet sore if you wear them over and over.
  • Jewelry - Make sure you know what you're wearing with each piece and put them all together in a bag with tissue if you don't have a jewelry travel case.

Finally, to determine my outfits, I use a daily breakdown. I try to bring some neutral pieces like black capris or a skirt that I can use a couple times. As PC has mentioned, microfiber is awesome - it doesn't wrinkle and it takes up almost no space in your bag. I also advocate the inclusion of one extra outfit that lies somewhere between your workshop attire and your formal in case you get an impromptu invite to a dinner or a party someplace nice. Here's my breakdown based on my typical activities...

  • Wednesday - black microfiber skirt, red top, black heels, red jewelry
  • Thursday - black capris, blue microfiber top, black sandals, blue jewelry
  • Thursday Night - eHQN PJ party attire, flip flops/slippers
  • Friday - black microfiber skirt, purple microfiber top, black sweater, black heels, purple jewelry
  • Friday Night - formal, PM dress heels, silver/black jewelry
  • Saturday - black capris, pink satin top, pink heels, pink jewelry
  • Saturday Night - formal, SW dress heels, silver/black jewelry
  • Sunday - t-shirt, jeans, etc. for flight home
    (add days as needed if you're coming early or staying late to sitesee)
  • Pitch Outfit - if you are pitching, bring the outfit that makes you feel your best if its not already one of the ensembles you're wearing
  • Extra Outfit - a fabu just in case outfit that you can wear with the shoes and jewelry you're already planning to bring

Hope The Comprehensive, Must-Have, Magical, Mystical, Packing List helps make planning for the big trip a little easier for you. Have I missed anything? What's on your must pack list?

Oh, and don't forget the deadline for blog proposals is coming up. Email Angel with what you'd like to blog about and you could replace one of us while we're at conference!



Playground Monitor said...

A couple things I have on my list that you don't have:

Robe - I carry a lightweight cotton robe to slip on after my shower so I don't have to try and keep the towel tucked around me. With four women in a room, you're playing musical bathroom. I've put on makeup with a small mirror and the light from the window more times than not.

Tiny scissors -- just because you never know when you'll need them.

Shout wipes or Tide-to-Go pen -- for those unexpected spills and drips

Notebook of some ilk -- for taking notes in workshops and anything else that requires paper

Eye drops -- to get the red out after too many late nights networking

Gum and/or Breath mints -- I particularly like those Listerine breath strips. They take up virtually no room but will get rid of garlic breath or help with dry mouth right before you have to pitch or moderate a workshop

One thing I don't carry is shaving gel. Instead I use the hotel hair conditioner. It gives you a smooth shave and isn't as drying as soap.

I also carry those facial cleansing cloths you wet with water because soap dries my skin. They take up less room than a bottle of cleanser and when you're done, you discard them.

Great list, SP! And it's great to see another backpack flier. I love my old JanSport.


Maven Linda said...

I've never tried a backpack; don't know why. I too am a compulsive, obsessive packing-list maker, and I have it on my hard drive. The very first item on it is:
AIRLINE TICKET. That's my nightmare, to show up at the airport without my piece of paper, not know which flight I'm on, and be forced to admit my idiocy to the clerk at the ticket counter.

I don't decide ahead of time what I'm going to wear on each day, because what I wear is determined by how I feel. If I'm annoyed and feeling impatient, I go for more comfort, to keep the day somewhat balanced. If I'm in a really good mood, I'll glam up a bit more. You can always tell when I'm fed up to the gills because the jewelry will start coming off. Watch, bracelets, earrings -- I seldom wear a necklace -- become unbearable irritations, and off they come.

I have to take the board meeting agenda in my carry-on, so I want something that rolls.

Another thing: if you park at the airport, write your parking section number down on your ticket, so you won't forget. After a numbing cross-country flight, following a brain-draining week of conference, I tend to forget little details like that.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Pantyhose? I must admit those are not on my list and shall not appear in any form. Yes, I have blinding white legs (these days). Yes, I will use my tinted moisturizer for a pale glow that will hopefully prevent seared corneas. But pantyhose are on my evil list after living in Hawaii.

Tweezers. Must have.

Magnifying mirror.

(PM, really, you think you can fool us with the eyedrops for late nights networking? You party animal!)

I recently found these tiny bikini shaver razors that will actually fit in your purse (they have a guard). Imagine how handy that could be for the stray string on your clothes or that tiny patch of hair on your leg that you realized your regular razor missed. :)

I also need a hair scrunchie to wrap my hair into a bun at night. :)

I have only recently been introduced to the Playfriend club of planning which outfit for which event, but I'm tentatively liking it. Like Maven Linda, I kind of prefer to wing it. But with luggage restrictions, and a horrible propensity to overpack, a list is good for me.

Jen said...

Okay, I'm just going to have to skip coming here until AFTER conference cause htg, y'all are stressing me out with all of this uber organization.

Problem Child said...

I do plan each day's outfit--all the way down to proper undergarments and jewelry. OCD? Possibly. (OCD is probably the fact I type the outfits into my conference schedule and take it on my PDA.)

Speaking of schedules, don't forget to print out any must-be'd hate to miss your editor appt because you got distracted by hearing about a must-go workshop.

Jolie said...

OMG, this is overwhelming! I wonder if conference will ever be within driving distance of me (here in sticks of Wisconsin). Yeah, right! LOL

Maven LJ said...

I always plan an outfit for each day, but then I rarely stick to the plan -- especially if I get a chance to go shopping, which I usually do. I'll very often ditch the shoes I'd planned to wear and go for something more comfortable.

The list is a must, of course.

I prefer a small roll on to a back pack, mainly because I don't have a back pack, and if I did and it was loaded down it would probably bother my shoulders more than I'd like. I can see where it would have its advantages, though.


Instigator said...

Love this packing list! Everyone knows that I'm not much of a list girl but...for conference I make exceptions. I have a packing list, a list of my schedule...I even have a budget. These things are all subject to change once I get there but at least I know I have everything covered to survive for 9 days in the big city :-)

I have a rolling backpack. I don't think I've ever actually put it on my back though. That's why I got the wheels :-D


PM's Mother said...

You didn't think you would escape me today did you? Here is a vital piece of packing list advice: Make 2 copies of your packing list - take one with you (in your purse or carry-on) and leave the other at home - this is in case the airline should permanently misplace your checked bag.

Playground Monitor said...

Oh yeah... magnifying mirror for those of us who are blind and can't put on eye makeup without one.

And airline ticket. Of course.

I have a travel document pouch that hangs around my neck and holds my ticket, boarding pass once I get it and my passport. That way all my travel documents are in one place. It has a zipper pocket on the back where I can stash some cash. I think I got it at Target.

And if you want to lock your luggage, be sure to use a TSA-approved lock. TSA has special keys that will unlock it if your bag is chosen to be searched. Think I got that at Target too.

And because everybody and his brother has a black suitcase, tie a bright ribbon round the handle to help identify it. When I bought new luggage last year I deliberately didn't buy black. And then I order some bright yellow luggage tags on eBay. They make my bag stand out. Or you can use one of those stretchy straps to put around your suitcase and get one in a bright color.

I guess I won't tell about the last time my mother flew here and couldn't find her suitcase on the conveyor. I was beginning to get worried; this was when #1 son got married and I didn't have time to take her on a shopping trip. Then she realized she thought she'd brought a different suitcase and was looking for the wrong bag.

Anonymous said...

Wow I am impressed with your list and the addendums. I hardly ever travel but if I did I would come back at look for this listing. I would plan every day too just so I'm not taking everything and the kitchen sink.
Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend.

PM's Mother said...

PM: Tattletale. I was just having a senior moment!

Playground Monitor said...

I've had my senior moments too. Like mother, like daughter. :-)

Maven Linda said...

My luggage is pink. With hearts on it. No guy would be caught dead stealing my luggage :-). And it always stands out.

Another tip is to save empty vitamin bottles and take just enough shampoo, etc., in those bottles for the trip, then when you're packing to come home ditch the empty bottles. Gives you a little extra room in your suitcases. Vitamin bottles are always sturdy, with good caps that can be tightened.

Smarty Pants said...

Yes, if you have an average colored bag, a ribbon or a strap is always a good idea. I like the strap because it will keep your bag closed if there's some handling mishap. I won one on a princess cruise for being the Scattegories Champion (nerd alert) and it makes my stuff super easy to find.

Myself, I have a giant purple bag, so its usually not hard to pick out. When I take my small navy bag (which I thought was a good idea because it wasn't black, but come to find out, looks remarkably black) I have trouble finding it.

Kathy said...

Uber cool list, SP! Thanks!

I haven't started making my list yet. I shopped a little yesterday and found a great dress for the Rita ceremony.

What about a small lint brush?

I have to have the magnified mirror these days or else I'll look like Elvira, Mistress of the Night, or any other mistress of the night, for that matter.

Also, bring a pillow case or, if you have one, a laundry bag for dirty underthings and such. I just found these cute bags in the travel size section at WalMart. One for shoes, one for laundry and one for lingerie. They are about $2 each and oh! so cute!!

I put all my conference stuff in a large manila envelope. That way, I know where everything is and can find it in my carry on or back pack easily.

Back packs rock!! :-) If I'm sight-seeing too, I never leave without one.

Chelle said...

You only take one bra? Doesn't it get smelly?

Smarty Pants said...

Actually, that makes three since I wear one out there. Some of my tops require the strapless one, so I wear it a couple times. Since this trip is longer for me than the standard 4 days, I might bring more than usual.

Angel said...

Smelly bras, haha!!!!

I tend to take quite a few, just because I have to have certain ones to go with certain shirts. Plus my "feat of modern engineering" for any formals.


PM's Mother said...

For those of you who suffer from premature wrinkles of the face, just go will pull the wrinkles out!

Jude said...

Holy mackerel, you were not kidding about the comprehensive.

On planes I like to have a sweater/jacket/sweatshirt with a hood. The cold air falling out of the vents can be really unpleasant.