Daring Conference Packing Tips & Tricks

Sorry guys...men...dudes. Half of this post contains girlie talk. Here's a post that features Zombies. (anyone who doesn't have a Zombie Survival Plan...I just think is short sighted! Just sayin.) This post features packing tips for conferences. Travel Tech, Clothes, Makeup, Tips, & Tricks. Some might be non-girlie! But most are pretty darn girlie! For the guys let me start with the non-girlie! (Also, don't miss my blog post ISTE12: Let's Go to San Diego!)
Techie Packing Tips
I always pack a powerstrip. Actually, I bring two. One regular lightweight blue (so I can't lose it) power strip and one Belkin powerbar w/2 USB charge docks! Belkin Mini Surge Protector Dual USB Charger. Sometimes hotel rooms need more power! I'm a geek so I have a LOT of electronics. Check out my Gadget-A-Go-Go page for some of my "must have" toys.
Power strips make friends!

If you're in a session room & near a wall with only 2 outlets but you plug in your power strip now people will LOVE you for helping out & providing re-charge potential! Sharing \\FTW!//
Double Up on Your Dongles
If you're a MAC grrl (or guy!) and you're going to be presenting, don't forget your dongle! Your VGA adapter - in fact, it's best to pack two just in case! OR for a friend if they forgot theirs. I'll never forget at EduCon I was loaned a dongle when I needed it most. You know who you are!
Return Your Address
If you're an avid Vendor Viking entering every chance to win FREE cool stuff - make it easier on yourself by bringing return address stickers. I get these in the mail from companies I've donated to $ like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Public Television, etc. Save them & bring these sheets and just peel & stick! Don't have any? Pick up a box of labels at Staples & make your own! 
Pump up the Jambox
I love my new blue tooth driven Jambox wireless speakers. They really do fill a good sized room with quality sound & works with my iPad, iPhone (Droid, too!), or MacBook Air. Basically, ANYthing that has blue tooth can connect with it! It's fun to break out at the Blooggers Cafe & rock some tunes like the Beastie Boys Sabotage! (above)
Take a Card!
I don't know about you but my school district doesn't provide business cards for their teachers but that shouldn't stop us from getting our own to pass out at a conference! It's great to have for presentations, Tweetups, Birds of a Feather, & Bloggers Cafe meets! Mini Moo cards make it slick, easy, and affordable because you can get 100 mini cards for only $19.99! I've blogged before but here's an updated:
5 Easy Tips for an Out of this World Mini Moo Card  but Moo also makes it so easy with downloadable templates!

Time & Temp
I adore my Brookstone Travel alarm clock that features indoor temperature & nature sounds for sleeping! For some reason I always like to know just how hot or cold a hotel room is - so if I have to call the front desk or maintenance because I'm too hot I can say with assurance "I'm sorry to complain but, help! It's 84 degrees in here!" I'm something of a weather/temperature geek. I have indoor/ outdoor weather stations on every floor of my house. Don't judge.
Release That Wrinkle
I always bring with me a travel bottle of Downy Wrinkle Release. Works like a dream! Freshens clothes & removes the wrinkles! Lay item on bed, spray, smooth out with hands or hang in a steamy shower whilst you're taking a shower! Check out the travel size aisle in your local T'Arget or grocery store & Refill w/ Amazon Prime!
I'm Your Biggest Fan!
I like a fan, the sound, & moving air to sleep. So, I call ahead to the hotel to see if they have portable or box fans for guests to borrow (a LOT of hotels do!) If they don't and I have room in my suitcase, then I bring my battery operated camp fan! It takes 2 D batteries and they last quite a long time. This little guy is a reliable leftover from my historic re-enactment Pennsic days!
I LOVE Your Mug!
In the above picture you can see my Google swag addiction showing with my red travel mug. I always bring a travel mug. It's great - it has saved my life, and it's GREEN! I give the amazing barista my double skinny late no foam order I hand her my mug & forgo the paper cup! I also buy at the airport one sport bottle of spring water for the flight then I constantly refill it & recycle it before I fly home! I know I can bring one of those alluminium water bottles but when choosing what to pack - space wise, between my coffee mug & a bottle of water - COFFEE always wins!
Geeks Need Fuel!
I blogged after the ISTE10 conference in Denver that I about perished after running on cheese cubes & grapes. What saved me? A room service steak = protein! And though I could use to miss a meal or two -it's not smart to pass out because you don't fuel up! So, now I bring a box of Fiber One powerbars - they're delish and will tide you through to your next meal. Make time to eat but eat healthy, drink lots of water, & get to bed early - I'm notoriously in bed by 9:30 every night! I'm great from 4-7...but then I really need my down time. More on how to navigate your first conference below with the Jesse Dee slidedeck.

Clever Hotel Tips
Get the best room! When you check in - smile warmly & genuinely and greet the front desk clerk and say how happy you are to be there...look around and admire the property. I can always find something nice to say about a lobby or the property. I usually joke that though I'm there for a conference this is my vacation (and it always is!) as a teacher I'm so excited to be here! (and I am!) As they're checking you in you can confirm the kind of room you requested "I requested a high floor king room with a view please near the elevator - any chance for that today? unless of course you feel compelled to upgrade me to a club level sky suite! LOL [insert cute wry grin] " This doesn't ALWAYS work, of course...but it can't hurt and I've had some pretty AWEsome rooms just by being friendly & charming.
Don't Get Lost! Sometimes when I get off an elevator I'm lost already...two ways to go...sometimes four! Here's my SNEAKY TIP... the side of the hallway where my room can be found I take an eye or lip pencil and make a small dot or smudge pointing the way. In a hallway with acres of doors that look all alike I also put a dot or smudge by MY door. Get off the elevator, look left, right, find dot, head in that direction... Smooth! I always wipe off the dot as I roll out to leave.

I am NOT a Germaphobe!
but....it's not a bad idea to have a few wet ones antibacterial wipes with you. I saw this 20/20 or Dateline special once that said that the most germy things in your hotel room are your Remote Control & your light switches. I always clean those off, strip the bed of the comforter (unless it's a sheet covered duvet) and use the water glass for my makeup pencils. More about makeup below!
Clothing - What to Pack
Pick a Colour
Of course, let me preface that all this is just my humble opinion and your mileage may vary. That having been said, when I'm traveling I try & pick a main colour scheme. Bringing 4 pairs of shoes and more than 2 purses is a pain. Either black or brown are favourites you can't go wrong with black, doesn't show dirt, wrinkles and always looks chic. Pops of bright colours with accessories is fun. In cooler months I have a lovely lime green cashmere wrap that comes in handy & can be used as a blanket on the plane, too! (I also have 2 black & 1 grey cashmere wraps) Heck, even in the summer it's handy to have a lightweight wrap or pashmina for evening & chilly conference rooms. I'm a big fan of cashmere when traveling. So soft, so comfy, and always lovely. Even have a few 100% cashmere sweater & pants sets from the Bloomies Sutton Studio line - I found great prices & FREE Shipping on AxelUSA on eBay. I've bought many pieces from this store for myself & gifts and have never been disappointed. There's nothing as luxurious as being draped in cashmere from head to toe...like it's better than George Costanza wanting to be draped in Velvet! Just sayin. It's also important to pack comfy lounging clothes & wooly socks to wear in my hotel room.  
Tote Me!

Having a large tote is a good thing! Sometimes you just want to carry only one thing and it helps if you can pop your stuff into a tote and go! One of my fav Coach totes above an hold my laptop and my iPad! For the guys or sporty gals - a backpack works great, too!
UPDATE: I just bought a Coach Baby Bag! Yes..though I'm baby-free-by-choice, this bag is great for laptops & traveling! A gajillion pockets, easy clean interior, & patent leather tough! You can see the scale as it sits next to my baby iPads.
Silk & Chiffon
Because conference rooms are notoriously hot & stuffy (or freezing cold!) I like to dress in layers. A tank top, chiffon or silk shirt & a cardy! To save space in my suitcase I have a growing collection of chiffon & silk shirts. They can be rolled up small and wrinkles hang out fast and with a versatile black wrap cardigan layered over it you're set day to night in all kinds of climates! (Downy wrinkle release spray is the BEST! Pick it up in the samples aisle in Target!)
It's Blingtastic!

JewelryThough I am loathe to travel with some of my best pieces life is too short to be constantly fearful. So, I pick a metal (silver or platinum or yellow gold) and I always bring my 100" pearl necklace. Pearls go with everything and also take you day-night. For day I wrap the necklace 4X and at night I'll sometimes wear it doubled and long. Use your room safe! (if you have one) I believe in the innate goodness of people but why tempt fate? I have, admittedly, jewelry addictions.
Dirty Diamonds Don't Sparkle as my dear Auntie Lynn always says! She's my jewelry & diamond sensai. So, if you like your jewelry to be sparkly & that matters to you - having a travel jewelry cleaner is a good thing! I use HOT water and a few cap fulls of mouthwash to use as a cleaner. (At home I use amonia, water, and a few drops of Dawn dish washing liquid) of Just be careful it doesn't vibrate & scoot off your bathroom sink. Wrap a towel around it. Yeah...lesson learned!
Travel Comfy
It's good to have some comfy clothes to lounge around it. I always pack a few casual T-shirts (incl. my lucky soft tie-dye Google shirt from 2004!) a pair of flannel lounge pants & long sleeved soft thermal shirt and always a hoodie! LOVE ME A HOODIE! (Hey Vendors, wanna get my attention, give me a geeky hoodie!) Heh heh shameless. Some mornings I like to travel down to the hotel lobby sans makeup & in to get a Starbucks of coffee before getting all dressed up fancy. Of course I always bring my slippers & woolly comfy socks. I'm a sybaritic chick.
Let's Make Up

Traveling War Paint

I love me some makeup! Sephora & Ulta would go out of business if I went Amish. There are a few great combination kits out there that travel beautifully. My favourite you can't buy in the store anymore but you can get it on eBay! French & Fabulous from Too Faced! My other favourite is also from Too Faced called Natural Eye available for $36 on Ulta or Sephora. It has lovely neutral (& sparkly!) colours all in one handy box! It's an all-inclusive kit that includes nine essential shadows for all-over lid color, highlighting, smudging, and more. And it's gorgeous! I have two unopened on reserve - just in case!  I also, as mentioned above, use a water glass in the bathroom to store my Tarte Amazonian eye pencils... I also bring a 10X travel make up mirror. Don't judge! LOL
(Photo from AASL07 Reno)
Hydrate Your Skin!
Estee Lauder makes a great face wash called Soft Clean. It seems when one travels the planes, hotel & conference rooms are pretty drying. Even though I usually use Purity face wash by Philosophy when traveling this is much more moisturizing. I first got it in a free gift with purchase then went to eBay (again!) for a box of 12 travel size tubes. It's AWEsome! I also bring makeup remover wipes, I like Ponds - sometimes if you come home late (and I really don't! cause I try & go to bed by 9:30!) it's nice to just wipe off your makeup. But whatever kind of makeup remover you use, don't forget to bring moisturizer!
Cush Your Tush!

Finally, life is too short for cheap TP. If I have room I bring one roll of Charmin Extra Soft. Yeah, I went there. The above is my suitcase from NECC09 --I don't even know why I took that pic - I hadn't even started this blog yet! .....FATE? Also....
ZIP LOCK BAGS! Bring at least 3!

What are YOUR favourite travel tips? What did I miss? I invite you to comment & help us all get organized! Cheers!

Finally, from my social media muse the amazing Jesse Dee!
Conference Coma
View more presentations from Jesse Desjardins - @jessedee

Photo Techie Tip!

Thanks to one of my new Tweeps, afensch26 of the Girls in the Stacks blog, I learned about PicMonkey & used it for some of the pics in this post! It's a really powerful & easy to use FREE photo editing & pimpin site! And though I'm pretty scared of monkeys (and clowns & muppets!) it pretty much amazing!


  1. I'm going to my first conference in July - this is all very useful advice, and perfectly timed. Thank you! :D
    Lisa x

    1. Hi Lisa! How exciting which conference is it?! So glad I could help! Thanks so much for your comment, too!

  2. Sunblock. I know we are inside most of the time, but places like Sea World and the San Diego Zoo might force us geeks out for a while. I was there last year and I learned the hard way that is easy to burn.

    1. Oh you are SO right! Sunblock! I like the spray on non-greasy type! Good catch Tech Tiger, my fellow Maryand Sistah of Swag! :-) ~G

  3. WHAT A GREAT POST for all travelers! Thank you, M2P!!! As I was reading through I chuckled @ the TP (I didn't know YOU do that TOO! LOL!) Ditto the sunscreen, otherwise, I can't think of a THING you missed! GREAT JOB. Rick Steves would LOVE this!!! (xoxox!)

    1. And did you catch that little shout out & link back to your blog my dear adorable gorgeous Auntie!!?? DDDS!
      Love you!

  4. *waves* Add our fav eyeglass cleaner kits - those you get for free from the optician office! Clean that electronic gear with a quick swipe. BTW, do we need to co-ordinate our suitcase wardrobes? Great minds have been shopping on the same Q fashion days! (Adds silver polishing cloth for my Carolyn Pollack Sterling Jewelry)
    :)Linda D., aka Eleanor

    1. Great suggestions dear Linda aka E!!! You and I have always been on the same frequency! I also carry Wet-nap anti-bacterial type of cleaners - didn't want to maybe admit my OCD ways- great for cleaning hotel remote controls, proven to be the germiest things in a hotel room.
      Love you!

  5. Forgot this one!(distracted by clothing and pearls-LOL) Add HDMI cable to your tech bag - perfect for hooking up one's laptop to the hotel TV - just in case, you can't miss a show on HBO or Hulu. Or rescue a presenter who needs to connect to a projector!

  6. Dresses are easier to travel with than separates. You will have more room for accessories. If you are going to be there for the whole conference, take some old underwear with you. Each day you can throw out your old underwear, so you don't have to tote laundry home. This works really well on long European trips.

    1. OMGosh! I did the same thing when traveling Europe! I called them "disposable panties!" the panties I wouldn't be caught dead in - the kind my Mum wouldn't let me wear in case I got into an accident! Great suggestion Annon!

  7. Speaking of sunblock, I like the Neutrogena Dry Touch -- doesn't leave you greasy or stain clothing. And it goes all the way to 100 SPF!

  8. I totally second the sunblock comment...redheads gotta stick together! I would also add that if you wear disposable contacts bring a few extra pair just in case. I too carry a power strip especially at the airport....amazing how many new friends are going the same way you are! (mine is pink). I also always bring a highlighter and permanent black marker. I use these for marking up the program and identifying my stuff in the sea of millions of conference swag and bags. I also carry extra luggage tags and put them on my stuff with my twitter and email addy. I absolutely loved your post! Can't wait to see you my friend!

    1. Oh dear Anne! I LOVE your packing tips! Highlighter! Sharpie! Extra luggage Tag! BRILLIANT! Hope to see you dear, miss ya!

  9. Thought of one more...MUST bring item for me. EXTRA hangers!! Sharing a room there are NEVER enough hangers so I pack a handful.They aren't heavy and it cuts down on me burning things while attempting to iron them! LOL Domestic I am not..all about the Downey Wrinkle Release!

    See you soon my friend! #redheadsunite

  10. A very smart person posted your link on the DENSI list of "what to pack". Created my 'extras' list and ready to go get 'em. Have to read your "Gadget a Go-Go" page first, tho. No sense making two trips. Great post, tyvm!

  11. You are a hoot! Thanks so much for the tips! I have not thought of bringing wrinkle release spray! Smart idea!


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