Friday, June 26, 2009

The Return of the Comprehensive, Must-Have, Magical, Mystical, Packing List

All righty, people. Nationals is right around the corner. Its time to start thinking about really important stuff like "What am I going to wear?" and "How many shoes can I cram into this bag without going over the weight limit?" In honor of this important event (and because I'm at a wedding in Napa) I'm bringing back the Comprehensive, Must-Have, Magical, Mystical, Packing List. Its a great place to start building your own list.

Mine 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. Plus, when they change your gate for the 10th time or your plane is late and you have 5 minutes to make your connection, sneakers are a godsend.

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. Must have stuff. You don't want it to end up in New Jersey while you're waiting at the luggage carousel in DC.

Backpack :
  • Plane Itinerary / Ticket
  • Camera & Battery Charger
  • Cell Phone & Charger
  • 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 clear, 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, good mirror, tweezers
  • 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 & Febreze (another must on the Playground!)
Luggage :
  • 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
  • 1 pair pantyhose (I hate them, but its good to carry one pair JIC. I have a pair of shoes that just rubs something fierce without them, but are super comfortable otherwise)
  • Regular bras & dress bras (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, especially as I'm wearing a pair on the plane)
  • Seasonal Jacket, etc, as needed (depends on where you're going, as SFO was cold, DC is NOT)
  • 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.
  • Swimsuit, if you think you might manage to make it to the spa at some point
  • 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. 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, pink top, black heels, pink 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 - purple formal, dress heels, purple jewelry
  • Saturday - black capris, pink satin top, pink heels, pink jewelry
  • Saturday Night - turquoise formal, gold dress heels, gold 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?



Linda Winstead Jones said...

I've started my list, but there are still holes. I also have my suitcase sitting on the bed in the spare bedroom, as I try to fit everything in that one bag. This will be fun. :-/

I'm considering getting a backpack this year, for my carry-on. Managing two pieces of rolling luggage usually turns into a comedy of errors, for me.

LJ -- Up early, preparing for an all-day visit from the plumber. :-/

Angel said...

I think you've covered about everything except a notebook. I always carry one in case I want to take notes during workshops or jot down who/when I met someone.

I've got all my outfits sorted out and am just waiting on 1 pair of shoes to arrive. All the jewelry is taken care of. Now I just have to hope that all my other stuff doesn't exceed the 50 pound limit.

I use the toiletry bag that goes with my luggage as a carry on, because it will slip over the handle of my suitcase and make for easier carrying once off the plane.


Playground Monitor said...

I'm out of town with girlfriends this weekend so I had this packing to contend with. I'll start conference packing as soon as I get back.

Backpacks rock! I always fly with one. This year I'm considering carrying my bigger one for obvious reasons.

Christine said...

I'm a little panicked about the clothes for the conference because we are driving up and I have to consider pre-conference and conference attire, two other passengers, and an additional teen coming down with us making us lose space. I narrowed down my clothing to a color scheme, but I am woefully low on "nice" business casual clothes being a non-published writer, SAHM. I am going to go over my selections this week, shop to round out with a friend and my DD and pray I look okay when I am there.

The only thing I have totally coordinated is my GH party/Gala outfit. And I am stressed about it as well.


Christine said...

Do we have to have a lot of jewelry? I don't wear much--very simple set of matching silver earrings and necklace pretty much every day.

Playground Monitor said...

Christine, you'll see a little bit of everything clothing-wise. I try to hit it in the middle with nice slacks and tops. I build my wardrobe around black slacks. Just remember a jacket, sweater or pashmina for the hotel because the meeting rooms can get quite chilly sometimes.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

OMG, I cannot think about this right now. The panic, it is wrapping around my throat.

I have revisions to do, in-laws next week, and conference to get ready for. I'm on two panels, and don't know what I'm saying yet on either one (Kim, LJ, and Linda, you did NOT see that. Lalalalala.)

I'm stressing over my HQN party invite -- it hasn't arrived. No idea what my publisher is doing in regards to lunches/events/etc. Have not talked with agent about anything.

Did I mention I have revisions my editor wants ASAP?!?!?

Problem Child said...

I have a general packing list on my computer. It's detailed and itemized. I don't need all things for all trips, but the full list is there. (It's even marked what goes in the carry-on and what gets checked.)

All I have to do is make a second list of what I'm wearing for the trip and add that to it.

A bit anal, I know. The first time DG realized that I really did have a packing list on my hard drive ready to print... hysterical.

This year, I added "extension cord/extra plug strip" to my list. Hotel rooms don't have enough easily accessible outlets when you have several women in one room...

Problem Child said...

Great Lynn, we posted at the same time -- now you have me in a panic because I'm right there with you. Substitute the fact I'm going in a few days early with DG and AC to sight-see instead of in-laws, though.

Must finish revisions so I can obsess over conference.

Angel said...

Christine, don't worry about wearing a lot of jewelry. I wear what I normally would, except with my formal dresses. And since I have no formal jewelry, I usually have to get some if I get a new outfit. Hit Claire's or Icing.

For business casual clothes cheaper, hit Ross. I found dress pants there last week for $10 each. And the malls are having some great sales. The good news is, since I don't wear my business clothes for a job every day, they last me a long time. :)


Christine said...

thanks all! I have my dress and matching jewelry for the GH Awards Night. I just need to round out my stuff for the rest of the week. I'm not under an editor's gun for revisions, but I've been swamped with getting everything together for my daughter's camp (tons of last minute stuff to do --eating up my time), a friend coming in less than a week (driving to Birmingham for that one).

I feel the most important thing I can do is get ready for the pitches so I am going to another workshop in B'ham tomorrow--great for learning, but oh, so little time to prepare!

Lynn and Problem Child--you'll get it done. I know you will!! I'm rooting for you.

Kathy said...

OMG! Now I'm all a twitter. I've got nothing planned to wear, though I did shop yesterday for a few things. My list isn't made. Heart beating rapidly... pitch isn't done.... must focus.... breathing thin.... why, oh why?