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what to bring to a conference

Your Printable, 18-Numbered Packing List for BWELA


You do realize you’ve got less than a week to make sure all your affairs are in place while you’re away at BWELA, pack everything you need to pack, and make sure you don’t forget anything, right? Right!?

Are you the kind of person who always seems to forget something when you pack? Tip #1, don’t wait til the last minute to get everything zipped up. That’s probably the number one reason things get left behind. Tip #2, take this list below, and print it out. Check things off as you put them in your bags, and remember that many things you may forget could be available from the hotel or a nearby convenience store, but here is a complete, comprehensive list (from a 5 time attendee) of what you absolutely must remember to pack for your trip (yes, many of these are clearly obvious, but a checklist is a checklist afterall, and wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t list “underwear”).

  1. Comfortable shoes – Daytime can be sneakers, flats, or sandals, and some people bring dressier shoes for the parties. Regardless, make sure they’re comfy.
  2. Socks, underwear (see?), t-shirts, lingerie, pajamas, etc. for as many days as you’re traveling.
  3. Casual, business casual, and dressy tops/dresses, for women / Casual tee’s and shirts, buttoned shirts, for men
  4. Slacks, jeans, skirts, and a light sweater for chilly nights or a too-cool convention center / Blazer, jeans, slacks for men
  5. Tip: Try to make the most of your wardrobe and pack things that can be layered with each other in different combinations, so you don’t have to pack so many clothes. Many people are traveling for 4-5 days, and trying to pack 5 shirts, 5 pants, 5 sweaters, 5 dresses… way too much! Bring 3-4 tops/shirts, 3 bottoms/pants, and 1-2 dresses (for ladies). See if you can cut it with only 2-3 options for shoes including those on your feet the day you depart (they’re bulky). Ladies, accessorize to make your lightweight black top look different on Saturday night than it did on Thursday afternoon. Scarves and jewelry are great for this. Guys, one blazer that goes with multiple t-shirts is better than trying to pack 4 blazers without needing a steam iron for them all. Travel-size spray bottles of Febreeze are fantastic for keeping things fresh even though you wore them already, or you can use the hotel’s laundry service.

  6. iPad or Laptop bag with laptop, power cord, peripherals (mouse, keyboard, stand)
  7. Camera and/or FlipCam, batteries, charger, extra memory cards (I put these in my laptop bag, since it’s carried on.)
  8. Cellphone and charger (I always forget my charger!) – If you’re coming in from another country, some people grab pay-as-you-go cellphones and credits right at the airport when they land or at a nearby store, so as not to spend as much on their own line with roaming charges and international fees. You can always sell it on eBay later, or keep it for the next time you come to the States.
  9. Toothbrush/paste/mouthwash, shampoo & conditioner, soap/bodywash (in approved 3.4 oz. bottle sizes unless you put them in your checked bags). You can always rely on the hotel for some of this, but many people like to have their own brands, so if that’s you, don’t forget!
  10. Cosmetics and grooming items. ‘Nuff said.
  11. Business cards (I put these EVERYWHERE – my suitcase, purse, laptop bag, and carry on.)
  12. Mini-notebook or bound index cards and pens for taking notes when you don’t have your computer open in front of you but want to take notes on who you met or remember a website or a piece of advice someone shares.
  13. Snacks, powdered drink travel packets (I love adding these to bottled water for some variety), gum and mints, etc. Bringing your own snacks and getting water (stay hydrated, especially if you’re imbibing each night!) at a conveninece store ensures you don’t overspend on them in the hotel, and gum or mints is just polite, given all those you’ll be interacting with!
  14. Medications, vitamins, OTC remedies (ibuprofen, cold/flu/icky tummy meds, etc.), energy drinks (hehe), and hand sanitizer. Traveling takes a toll on the body, and with all the people you’ll meet and shake hands with, you’re sure to pass around some germs. Make sure you have your health covered.
  15. An 8.5 x 11 envelope. Yes, an envelope. In it, you’ll put all your receipts (after you take a photo of them for backup, and for tax purposes), handouts you want to keep, business cards you receive, and so on. Trust me, there’s nothing like trying to search for this stuff when you get home, and it makes for great filing later on once you’re back in the office.
  16. A printed out schedule. Many people go to conferences and “wing it” but I like to have a loose (ie. sure-to-be-changed-later) plan. Know what sessions you want to attend, when they are, and what room they’re in. (You can get this info here.) Also make note of the parties, their times and locations, and any other meetups or networking events you want to be sure to get to.
  17. Cash, ATM/credit cards, traveler’s checks (if you’re coming in from another country), and so on. Be prepared for unexpected expenses, or to buy a drink or two for your new friends.
  18. Copies of all your travel arrangements, phone numbers for the hotel and shuttle/taxi/hired car service you’re using, and registration confirmation email (this one’s important!) so you can keep track and in case you lose them. Yes, most people can access this stuff from their laptop or phone, but who wants to waste time booting up or searching? Just have it packed in a folder (or additional large envelope) and then you’ll know right where it is on a moment’s notice.
  19. Extra bags are great for carrying home the swag you’ll get from the expo hall, plus we’ve got a bookstore on-site with loads of great stuff, and you may want to buy a few (and have them signed by the authors) and bring those home too. You might get away with just leaving extra room in your suitcase, but even a foldable, reusable grocery bag works in a pinch and stays compact on the way home in the event you don’t need it. Alternatively, you can consider donating anything you don’t really love.

So there you have it, your 18-item list of all the things you need to remember to pack for BlogWorld. Have I forgotten anything? 😉

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