Monday, July 09, 2012

The Comprehensive, Must-Have, Magical, Mystical Packing List Rises

I just looked at my calendar and realized I'm leaving for the RWA conference in Anaheim in less than two weeks. Not ready? Neither am I. I have been crazy busy. But not too busy to revive this list from the dead. I depend on it, every year, so I thought I'd bring it back to life to help others.  It's tradition and a great place to start building your own list if you don't have one already.

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 (or slip-ons for walking to make getting them on and off in security easier)
- 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 small roller bag, laptop, 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 DC while you're waiting at the luggage carousel in Orange County

Backpack :
- Plane Itinerary / Ticket
- Camera & Battery Charger
- Cell Phone & Charger
- 1 extra pair of panties & socks (just in case)
- Book or e-Reader of choice (& charger) 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 & An Empty Water Bottle (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. As for the water bottle, you can refill it as you travel, but it must be empty to get through airport security.)
- 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
- Presentation Materials and/or laptop (I'm doing a workshop this year, so anything I need is staying on my person.)

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
- 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. (coordinate w/ roommates to cut down on unnecessary appliances)
- 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
- Bandaid Friction Block

Luggage :
- Another copy of your flight itinerary in case your bag loses its ID tag
- Panties x # of days, plus one or two if you're going siteseeing and might get sweaty
- 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, NYC 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
- 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. I do not recommend wearing the same shoes every day, even if it matches. I find even the most comfortable pair will start to rub and make your feet sore if you wear them over and over. You will do a lot of walking.
- 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 sandals, 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 - black formal, sale shoes, black/silver jewelry
Saturday - black capris, pink satin top, black sandals, pink jewelry
Saturday Night - black and pink formal, pink heels, pink jewelry
Sunday - t-shirt, jeans, etc. for flight home (add days as needed if you're siteseeing)
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?

Andrea AKA SP


Playground Monitor said...

I LOVE your packing list. I'd started mine and had forgotten the Bandaid Friction Block.

Also, if you are a coffee/tea drinker, the conference hotel has a Starbucks in it. I plan to load my Starbucks card ahead of time so I can just carry it and pop in for my afternoon cup of tea and not have to worry about carrying so much cash.

Most big hotels have hair dryers too, so unless you have some special hair requirement, you can skip packing that item too.

I love those space saver bags. You put stuff in them, roll or vacuum out the air, and voila! More space in the suitcase.

And remember to make plans for all the books and goodies you'll get at the conference. You can ship them home from the hotel's business center (set yourself up a FedEx account beforehand to make it easier) or pack a duffel bag flat in the bottom of your suitcase and check it as a second bag coming back. Pricewise, it's about the same as sending a big box from California via FedEx. I' flying American and they charge $35 for the second checked bag. Last time I shipped a box home from conference, it was between $35-40. It just depends on whether you want to drag bag #2 to the airport. If not, remember to bring some packing tape and a sharpie marker so you can pack up your stuff. Boxes are usually readily available at the hotel after book signings, in the goodie room, etc. Some airlines (Southwest for one) still doesn't charge at all for luggage, so the second bag option definitely makes sense there.

Kim in Hawaii said...

Aloha! I offer an alternate list for me as a blogger coming from Hawaii:

- Aloha shirts (to stand out)
- Pre printed mailing address to send books home via post office (UPS too expensive)
- Two children (hubby is moving to Korea that week).

Everything else, I am throwing caution to the wind and celebrating the opportunity to hobnob with Romance's finest!

Andrea Laurence AKA Smarty Pants said...

I'll have to keep an eye out for you, then. Should be easy to spot a woman in a hawaiian shirt!