Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Your heroine's baggage is nothing compared to mine...

If you visit lots of blogs in Romancelandia, you can’t help but realize that the National Conference is coming up quickly. Goodness knows I’ve been in full conference prep mode for a while now.

The baggage restrictions on most airlines really suck, you know, so I’m all about getting everything I can into the smallest, lightest suitcase. Which can be quite difficult when you’re taking nine outfits for a four-day conference. As I get my act together and start packing, I thought I’d share some packing tips.

Some hints and ideas to pass along:

Open a FedEx account. Yep, I’m serious. With all the books and such you’re going to pick up at Nationals, most folks will tell you just to ship a box of your newly acquired goodies home. It’s a great idea—at least until you see the line at the business center as everyone tries to get their boxes shipped. Did you know that if you have a FedEx account, you can just fill out the form with your account number and drop the box off at the concierge desk? Most hotels will seal the box and get it shipped off for you. No waiting in line. It only takes a few minutes to set up an account on-line—much faster than waiting in that really long line with everyone else. You know, you can ship stuff to the conference as well…

Learn the wonders of non-wrinkling fabric. I’m loving the microfiber. Most of my clothes are made of this wonder fabric—including one of my evening gowns. Not only can I fold (read “wad”) everything into a suitcase instead of using a hanging bag without dreading the time spent with an iron at the other end, the fabric is so thin that it takes up very little space. Meaning I can bring even more clothing!

Bring hangers. Especially if you have roommates. Hotels rarely have more than a few non-removable hangers in the room, and you’ll need those extra hangers for all your stuff. If you bring some metal ones from the drycleaner, you can leave them behind (opening up a little space for one last book or souvenir).

Speaking of roommates, advance communication with those roommates is critical. Consolidate and plan ahead--you don’t need four hairdryers. If one of your roommates happens to wear the same size clothes or shoes, maybe you could have an extra fabu outfit ready to wear, yet not in your suitcase!

And one last tip—this one for saving the planet. Many hotels are now trying to save water and lower the amount of detergents uses, so they give you the option of not having your towels replaced every day. It’s a nice idea, except if you have three roommates (like I do), it’s impossible to keep up with whose towel is whose. Take a couple of small pieces of colored ribbon and a few safety pins. Mark your towels with a ribbon and hang them up to dry.
I'm sure you have some of your own travel and packing tips to share. Feel free to do so in the comments tail. I'll start the goodie giveaway extravaganza that is Nationals a little early and give books to the best tipsters!


PM's Mother said...

1.Leave your hair dryer at home. Most upscale hotels provide hair dryers. Share like good little girls. Duh!

2. Be sure to coordinate ribbon colors with your roomie(s) - we all don't want to bring red ribbons, do we? Or ditch the ribbons and embroider your initial on your towel using your handy dandy little sewing kit - no pin to scratch your derier- er, fanny (where is spell check on this blog?)

3. No one will be looking at your feet - take one pair of fancy shoes to go with all outfits (or maybe 2 pairs - one gold and one silver) Mmmm - one pair of gold and silver is better. Low heels are more comfortable even if they are less sexy-looking.

4. Take your oldest panties - one pair for each day, plus a spare, and throw them away as you wear them - more room for souvenirs.
Treat yourself to new undies when you get home. (No, you won't have time nor energy to wash your undies every evening.)

5. Hang your wrinkled dress in the bathroom briefly - let the steam from your shower take care of the wrinkles. (I'd like to do this with my face.)

Remember, I've been there, done that.

Ask PM what type of books I like to read.

Maven LJ said...

I keep trying to cut down on the shoes, but it isn't easy. Why HAVE shoes if you're not going to WEAR them? At least I'm not taking a dozen pair as yes, I have in the past. I'll be there for a week, and for most days I have two outfits. Do the math. Oy.

Love the idea of hangers I can leave behind, but not sure I want to put those metal things in the same suitcase as my clothes. The airines can be pretty rough, and I don't want to get there and find that the ends of the metal hangers have ripped something to shreds. Maybe if I taped them like a hockey stick. :-)

Packing for Nationals is a challenge. I leave two weeks from yesterday, and I've already started packing. My spare bedroom looks like Belk exploded in there.


PM's Mother said...

Omigosh! I did't realize I was blogging to an English teacher. I wrote newspaper advertising copy for thirty years where punctuation was a dash and "..." (theres a name for ... but I can't recall it right now) and grammar was lax. Spelling was important, though, and we did not have spell check. Shall I brag? I was the 1940 Greenville County,SC school spelling champion. (PM, I'll bet you did not know that.)

And packing tip number 6. Don't forget to pack a small flashlight.

Anonymous said...

Have fun at the conference.

I keep everything in little plastic bags, so I can see what's in there and try to keep all the same type of stuff in each bag - like dental - makeup, pills.

Yes, kind of hard re the towels if you have roommates.

Pat L.

Problem Child said...

PM's mother--this is the RWA conference...EVERYONE is looking at your feet. Usually before they look at your nametag.

Shoes are very important!

Smarty Pants said...

I know we all have romance in common, but one of the easiest ways to start a conversation with a strange woman is to complement her shoes or her outfit. I started a conversation once with Sabrina Jeffries (whom I did not know) about her shoes. They're especially important on RITA night. I say find the dress that matches the shoes.

As for travel tips, mine is to pick a color - usually black or brown - as your base. Take a black skirt, black sweater or blazer and black pants, 2 pairs of nice black shoes, and you can rotate tops and accessories for a dozen different outfits. Doesn't help for formal nights, but it gets you through the days. Microfiber is even better.

Jolie said...

Great advice all around, ladies! I probably won't be going to conference for a couple more years--sniffle--but I'll log all this info in the back of mind for then! :P

Playground Monitor said...

I'm late to the party because I didn't sleep well last night and when I finally did get to sleep it was about 3AM. So I slept late.

I usually take my Turbie-Twist to dry my hair and it's bright purple, so unless PC's brought her purple one too, we're okay. I hang it with my bath towel and I'm set.

I know this is RWA and everyone looks at your feet, but I still limit shoes, especially after my recent foot surgery. I'm limited on what I can wear anyway. I have some comfy black flats to wear with the black slacks that will coordinate with several different tops, a pair of dressy black sandals that will serve for all the formal occasions and some awesome new flip-flops that will surely pique folks' interest and start many conversations.

I just got rid of all my old panties and I'll be damned if I'm throwing away my Victoria's Secret panties. They're the thinnest cotton ones I've ever found and I love them.

I'm with mom -- why doesn't that bathroom steam thing work on my face and neck?

I also take sample/travel sizes of as many toiletries as I can. Or if it's not available in a sample size, I buy those little empty travel bottles at Wally World and fill those to take.

I pack a lot of stuff in ziplock bags of all sizes. You can smush the air out of them and get lots more in your suitcase. I packed a formal dress in one last year and it came out virtually wrinkle free. Or you can pack your outfit and undies for each day in separate bags and you'll have each day at your fingertips (this works best with knit or microfiber items).

I'll need my tennis shoes for our sightseeing excursions, so I'll wear those on the plane since they take up so much room in a suitcase.

And my doctor told me to take a hat for the Alcatraz night tour. I'm tucking in one of those stretchy $1 one-size-fits-all toboggans.

PM -- who knew her mom was a spelling bee champ. Ha!

Sherry W. said...

I cracked up when I read the comment PM's mother posted about no one looking at your feet and only taking 1 or 2 pairs of shoes. If she only knew the level of major shoe obsession surrounding this group! You girls would more likely go commando than leave your shoes at home!

And I've seen some of the shoes. Leave the underwear and take the shoes.

Lynn Raye Harris said...


Wow, that idea of only taking one pair of shoes nearly did me in. :)

I LOVE the old undie tip and throwing them away. ROFL. But I don't have any old undies, darn it.

As for the hair dryers, unfortunately I have to bring mine. Hotel dryers don't usually have enough power for all this hair. :( I'll still be trying to dry my hair two hours after everyone's left me.

I don't have any packing tips. I'm not a road warrior, and I am also the woman who once made her hubby haul nearly every stitch of clothing she owned across half of Europe on a train. Believe me, I'm lucky we're still married after that incident.

BUT, I'm working on how to get it all into one suitcase. The shoes are a MUST. :)

Angel said...

I'm with Lynn. I have to take my hair dryer. Hate it, but its a must. I have naturally curly hair and I have to blow dry it with a difuser. I have yet to find one, universal or not, that will stay on a hotel hair dryer. Pain in the butt, let me tell you. And I'm not walking around conference looking like I stuck my finger in a light socket.

PC, you forgot the world's best travel tip! Wrinkle release spray!! This stuff is awesome. It will get the wrinkles out of just about anything, I've found. Just don't spray it on any silky fabrics. It may leave a water mark.


Rhonda Nelson said...

I haven't started thinking about conference yet, much less what I'm going to wear to the RITA's. I'm obsessing over finishing a book first. Eek! I'm running out of time!!!

Jen said...

Okay, I'm obviously way behind here. I haven't even THOUGHT about what I'm wearing/taking.

PM's Mother said...

PM, you go, girl! I knew I raised you right. Leave the extra shoes at home and those you meet will remember your face, not your feet.

Maven Linda said...

Two pairs of shoes? I can do that. But what about the other seven days I'll be there????

I'm trying to keep the number of shoes to ten pairs or fewer. At that, I may well box up half my clothes and shoes and get the hubby to ship them to me. I hate wrestling multiple suitcases, because I always get banged up and bruised, and break at least one finger-nail.

Tip: park in the remote parking lot at the airport and the bus/car/whatever will pick you up and deliver you to the curb, so you don't have to wrestle your luggage through the parking deck. All it costs is a tip for the nice person. That's if you're using airport parking, of course.

Put your vitamins and stuff in one bottle, and take just enough for the trip, then throw away the bottle when its empty.

Zip-Loc bags are a miracle of ingenuity. I pack at least half my stuff in them. I always take a hairdryer, too, because the hotel ones just don't have the power -- but I have a Featherweight dryer that weighs about 10 oz even though it's full-size and packs the power. And I always take a can of Wrinkle-Release.

Ellen said...

Most of the things I would suggest are already suggested but the question about metal hangers tearing things in your luggage there are several solutions: they make large enough ZipLock bags that you could double up on and put the hangers in them to protect other things and when you pack for home if they haven't been torn you can use them for other things. I also use the plastic bags to pack blouses in so the wrinkle less.

Jane said...

I recommend getting some bar soap and shampoo bars so you won't have to take up space in your little liquid zip-loc bag. Another tip is to turn off the tv and the lights in your hotel room when you go out. A lot of people leave the lights and tv on because they figure they won't be paying the electricity bill.

Chelle said...

I never carry soap anyway. I use what the hotel provides. I do carry shampoo because I can't be assured the hotel stuff will agree with my hair. I never heard of shampoo bars though.

Besides, the liquid ziplock bag thing is only if your carrying on your bag and it sounds like all of you have bags way too big to carry onboard.

I don't understand this shoe obsession. I mean, just how many pairs do you need for a couple days? And why two outfits a day? No wonder your worrying about getting it into one bag.

Shari C said...

Try to limiti amount of colors; stick to black, brown or navy and then use accessories like jewelry or scarves to vary and brighten outfits.
Take a light sweater for layering in case of cool evenings or a/c in various rooms.
Wrapr jewelry separately so will not tangle and wrap breakable items or bottles in socks or put in shoes
Don't forget safety pions or small sewing kit for those unplanned for emergencies.
Have a GREAT time!

PM's Mother said...

It is better to leave at least one light on and leave the TV on when you depart your hotel room. Anyone who tries to break onto your room will think someone is there.

Angel said...

We always leave the tv on, like PM's mother said, to make anyone walking by think someone is home.

Speaking of wrapping your jewelry separately, I like to use tissue paper for that.

I always forget I can stuff things in the shoes! I waste a lot of space that way.

Jane, what's a shampoo bar?


PM's Mother said...

My curiosity about the shampoo bar got the best of me. When I was young we used plain old Octagon soap bar to wash our hair because we thought it would make it turn red. All it did was make it turn dry. Now you can get a
Rosemary Mint shampoo bar from Burt's Bees ( www.burtsbees.com )
You probably don't have time to order a bar at $6.00 plus S&H, but Target sells these products. I haven't used the shampoo bar, but their lip balm and cuticle cream are the best I have ever used.

Smarty Pants said...

2 outfits a day is sometimes necessary. I'm certainly not going to wear my sparkly Rita gown to all of Saturday's workshops. Nor will I wear the capris and twin sets from the workshops to a publisher cocktail party or event. Nice dinners with your editor call for a different outfit that what you'd wear on your afternoon off for siteseeing. It also requires different shoes. Yeah, I can wear the same black sandals with a few casual outfits, but it won't go with a formal or a skirt.

Besides, conference is our time to get out of our pj's, play with grown ups and get dressed up for a change. Yeah, we go all out, but its fun.

Jane said...

They're shampoo but they look like a bar of soap. Lush sells them. This is great because you won't have to deal with the security issues with the liquid variety.

Cheri2628 said...

A lot of luggage looks the same. To avoid confusion at baggage claim, tie a ribbon around the handle of your suitcase so you can spot yours easily.