NESCBWI Conference Packing

Posted by on Apr 19, 2018 in Travel

You can tell the NESCBWI Conference starts tomorrow. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are humming with #NESCBWI tags. My office looks like a natural disaster blew through. And, small piles of “to-pack” items are scattered around the house.

Here are two of those piles…

The Paperwork Pile

Conference paperwork packing. © 2018 Jesswick Creative Studio, LLC.

Conference paperwork packing

Here’s what’s in it:

– Notebook. Given that you’re often balancing your notebook on a knee during conference sessions, I like my conference notebooks with the ring binding on top. (This notebook has perforated pages, too, which makes for neater post-conference tear-out and organization.)

– Writing Implements. Do not forget the ballpoints! Gel and flare pens are fine and dandy, but they are a smearing nightmare when jotting on coated business cards. In addition to standard ballpoints, I like to bring highlighters in two different shades, for categorizing major points during keynotes and class sessions. A pencil and a ballpoint in a distinctive shade also come in handy, along with white-out tape and a small ruler.

– Sticky Notes & Tabs. Want to remember to come back to something in your notes, later? Need to jot a quick note and keep it with a book or other item you don’t want to muck up directly? Sticky notes and tabs, my friends. Sticky notes and tabs.

– Conference Paperwork. This includes everything from directions to the conference, to hotel reservation info, to the conference schedule, faculty and speaker profiles, copies of your manuscripts, and everything in between.

– Conference Binder/Organizer. Everything I’ve listed above fits into the zippered organizer on the top left of my photo. (I stuff some business cards in here, too, for quick access.)

– Reading Material. I know there won’t be time to read. I know I’ll probably never open it. But, it makes no difference; I always carry a book along.

– Business Cards. Bunches and bunches of business cards. Bring at least 100. (Two hundred is even better.)

– Calendar/Bullet Journal/Etc. A lot of folks do all their scheduling on their phones, which works fine, too, of course. Any which way you track your days, be sure to have that info with you, so you can plan post-conference meetings, calls, and correspondence.

But, conference essentials aren’t all about the nitty-gritty necessities. Conferences are exciting, fun, and chock-full of networking and learning opportunities. For those of us who spend a lot of time alone, creating, this can be a bit of a shock to the system, so it’s important to bring along the items you’ll need to enjoy the entirety of the conference, without losing steam.

The Self-Care Pile

Conference self-care packing. © 2018 Jesswick Creative Studio, LLC.

Conference self-care packing

– Comfortable Shoes. This is the drum everyone at every conference beats on and on and on. And, for good reason. You will be on your feet a LOT. This is not the time to break in funky new heels. Choose shoes you know you can stand in (and stand, period), for 14 hours at a time.

– Layering Options. Yeah, so those conference rooms—sometimes, boiler-room hot, and other times, Siberia-in-January cold. So, how do you minimize the effects of temperature fluctuations, so you can focus on absorbing information? In a word: layering. And, layering can extend beyond the jacket/cardigan/blazer approach (though those are are all highly recommended, too). A light scarf can keep the breeze from a vent off the back of your neck. A heavier, larger scarf can serve as a makeshift wrap when you’re shivering. And, in the coldest of cold environments, pop on a pair of fingerless gloves while you’re jotting notes. (Just be sure to take them off at the end of each session; you don’t want to shake hands with fluffy palms.)

– Sustenance. Conferences are a lot like a wedding—nonstop action that leaves you reeling, with a vague feeling of “What just happened?” when they’re over. This can throw off your meal schedule. And, the often dry conference room environment can leave you dehydrated. So, be sure always to have a bottle of water with you, along with a couple of simple snacks (preferably ones that don’t leave seeds between your teeth).

– Hygiene Helpers. Speaking of seeds, it’s good to have some floss on hand, so should you get a tooth invader, you can run to a restroom and resolve it quickly and easily. A pack of tissues, some wet wipes, and a packet of stain remover, can also be lifesavers. A small roll-on perfume or cologne, along with an eyeglass cleaning cloth can also keep things fresh during a looooong day of keynotes, classes, and colleagues.

– Lip balm. Did I mention it gets dry in those conference rooms?

– Mints. Okay, so Altoid Minis are one of those things I have with me pretty much everywhere I go. Not only do they freshen the breath, but when you’re really flagging during those afternoon sessions on the third day, if you pop an Altoid Mini, let it dissolve a bit, then breathe in and out through your mouth (quietly!—you don’t want to hyperventilate down the neck of the person sitting in front of you), the cool freshness is as good a wake-up as a cup of strong coffee.

– Earplugs. If you’re staying overnight, you’re going to be in a strange place with strange (often loud) noises. Don’t toss and turn all night; grab some earplugs, and snooze happily through your few precious sleeping hours.

– Pain Relief. No matter how careful you are, chances are that eventually feet are gonna hurt, food is gonna upset tummies, and throats are gonna get sore. (After all, you’re going to do a month’s worth of talking in just a few days.) So, it’s a good idea to have some OTC meds and lozenges on hand for pain, heartburn, and sore throat.

– Something funky. One of the pieces of advice I read last year was to wear something cool and unusual, that says something about your personality. A nifty pin, tie, scarf, etc. can be a great conversation opener.

Lastly, you’ll need a good bag or case to haul all your stuff around. (The more easy-access pockets, the better.)

Happy packing, all!