Packing for Conference Survival

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Oct 04 2018

I get asked a lot what authors should bring to writers conferences, how should you prepare and what to pack which has inspired me to make a downloadable packing list for you as well as give some of my own tips for conference survival.

Let’s talk packing first…

Clothing: I like to pack one outfit for every day and one outfit for every evening event. I find that after a long day of networking, pitches and speaking, a fresh change of clothes can give me a fresh perspective. However, that doesn’t mean you need a complete set of clothes. Changing your shirt, updating your jewelry, or adding a scarf can sometimes be enough.

Shoes: Yes shoes get their own category. You’re going to be walking and standing a lot so while you’ll see a lot of agents or authors teetering around on heals (yes I’m shaming myself), I actually suggest you wear something comfortable like a basic pair of black shoes or even tennis shoes if that’s what works best for you. You’ll be a better networker if you aren’t distracted by foot pain.

Workout Gear: I like to work out, it clears my head and gets me out of the hotel. A good run or walk is also a terrific way to see a new city.

Shawls/Pashminas/Blazers: Hotels are oddly cold, whenever they aren’t oddly hot. Pack something you can easily carry around and throw over your shoulders. Trust me, you’ll thank me.

Blister Bandaids!: No matter how comfy and well-worn your shoes you NEED these in your arsenal. I actually store them in my suitcase. And let me stress the word “blister” they are special, they are for blisters and they are magic! Buy them.

Business Cards or Postcards: Something to hand to an agent or, even more importantly, authors you meet and connect with. Yes, we all use phones, but sometimes it’s nice to have a way to remember someone and remember the title of their book.

Paper & Pens: At workshops and even pitches you’re going to want to take notes. You’re a writer after all. Make sure you pack extra pens.

Laptop/Tablet: You think you’ll be too busy to write, and you might be, but you’ll also be more inspired than ever. Pack it.

Snacks/Water Bottle/Mints/Gum: You’ll need them all. You’ll miss a meal, you’ll be too nervous to eat, you’ll always be thirsty from all that talking and nerves make you want mints. I never leave home without them.

All of this being said, the most important advice I have for conferences is how to spend your time.

Schedule quiet time. And I mean, as you’re adding the conference agenda to your calendar also add breaks for yourself. Got back to your hotel room, open a book, wash your face and close your eyes. Conferences are exhausting and taking even a half hour break can make all the difference in crashing early or networking well into the night. I learned this trick by accident over 10 years ago and I live by it today.

Laurie Helgoe, the author of Introvert Power, has terrific advice on traveling secrets for introverts and I agree with everything she says. A successful conference happens when you take care of yourself. Do that first and the success will follow.

Lastly, have fun! Conferences should reignite you, even while exhausting you.


3 responses to “Packing for Conference Survival”

  1. Avatar Sam says:

    I’m used to attending comic cons as a fan. Next year I’m going to attend my first writers conference and realized: I don’t know what’s different!! This is great, thanks.

    I’ll second the snacks. At my first con I was so excited and busy I forgot to eat lunch. Then I let a zombie booth put makeup on me aaaand promptly passed out beneath the stifling body cover. My husband had to talk paramedics into letting me stay. XD Eat your snacks!!

  2. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    Definitely agree to scheduling quiet time. I learnt the hardway after attending a three day conference and not stopping. I could hardly take anything in by the end and I was exhausted.