On my previous blog, The Writing Playground, I posted my annual “Comprehensive, Must-Have, Magical, Mystical, Packing List” for RWA. This year, I thought I would share it here in the hopes that maybe I picked up a comment from someone other than a spammer! I use this every year and revise as needed. A great starting off point for someone who has never been to Nationals before or someone who always waits to the last minute to pack and forgets something critical.
My list is broken into sections, starting with what I’m wearing on the plane/car drive over. 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
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 game we’re doing at the Literacy Signing, although some years it includes workshop materials, etc. Must have that stuff. You don’t want it to end up in Seattle while you’re waiting in Atlanta.
• Plane Itinerary
• Camera & Battery Charger
• Cell Phone & Charger
• Lit Signing Stuff – Kindle, Game Cards, Stamps, Basket to Collect Entries
• 1 extra pair of panties & socks (just in case I lose my luggage)
• Book/Nook/Kindle 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
• Goody Room promo
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.
• Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss & Mouthwash
• 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 don’t know me very well)
• Mini Sewing Kit
• Mini bottle of Downy Wrinkle Release Spray (another must on the Playground!)
• Mini bottle of Febreeze
• Turbie Twist (I’m adding this new this year. I got one for Christmas and its very handy when you’re in a hotel room with multiple people and towels are at a premium.)
• 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)
• Neutral colored cardigan for cold meeting rooms (layers are good)
• Pajamas (I don’t know how many times I stress over every outfit, then forget PJs)
• Robe (For wearing while getting ready)
• 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. 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 a sample breakdown based on my typical activities…
• Wednesday – lavender dress, black jacket, lavender shoes, lavender jewelry, black fascinator
• Thursday – black and white dress, black sweater, red heels, red belt, b&w jewelry
• Thursday Night – eHQN PJ party attire, flip flops/slippers
• Friday – paisley dress, turquoise sweater, lavender shoes, lavender jewelry
• Friday Night – silver cocktail dress, sale shoes, silver jewelry
• Saturday – black and peach dress, black jacket, black heels, peach jewelry
• Saturday Night – black formal, black dress flats, 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?