You’ve signed up for your company’s conference! This is a very exciting time. There’s lots of anticipation about new products launching and meeting up with old friends & team mates scattered across the globe. Maybe you’re just excited to have four days outside of your house! But there can also be a lot of stress and anxiety about packing for conference. Here is a list of items that I have curated across the years of packing for conference with Pampered Chef, but is applicable to any company conference!
The first thing to do when packing for conference (or travel in general) is to know the weather. Is it generally hot? Cold? Cold then hot? This year’s conference is happening outside of Chicago in August. That means that 80 degree days are not out of the question. And the humidity. Oh, the humidity. But, the conference rooms are often chilly. Who really wants them warm with a bunch of bodies in there, anyway? My biggest suggestion is to consider layering pieces when packing for conference. This will allow you to mix and match your wardrobe for the cold inside, but also the stifling heat and humidity that lurks just outside the convention center doors. A capsule wardrobe will keep you from over packing, also. Consider outfits where all tops go with all bottoms. This way you can change your mind a hundred times each morning without having to pack your entire closet. Humidity can also lead to a random sun shower, so don’t forget an umbrella!
Dress is typically business casual.
You want to rep your company in a positive light, but also be comfortable. A nice pair of colored jeggings would be preferred over jeans. There’s a slightly more elegant feel to jeggings. Pair them with a nice top instead of a T-shirt, and sandals instead of tennis shoes and you’ve accomplished business casual! If stilettos are “comfy” to you, girl, go for it. But remember, conferences are often 3-4 days, and many miles of walking from meeting room to meeting room. All this while lugging paperwork, laptops/tablets, etc. Do you really want to do that perched on heels that are 2 cm wide?
Check out the printable image below for some bonus “why didn’t I think of that?!” items for your wardrobe.
If you have a roommate:
It’s a good idea to pack a few things that will make your stay with other people easier. For instance plastic throwaway hangers if you’re planning on hanging up some clothes. Hotel rooms usually only offer a few.
Portable chargers and extension cords. Hotels have done a much better job lately at making their outlets more accessible. However, with multiple people sharing a room, there’s still never enough. Everyone bring their tablets, their phones and maybe their cameras. That means outlet space is at a premium. So when you’re packing for conference, try to throw in an extra surge protector or extension cord.
Folding make up mirror. Direct Sales Conferences are most often attended by women. Women who need to do their hair, put on their make up, brush their teeth, etc. This means there can be a backup in the bathroom! There is often a mirror in the main room, but the lighting usually sucks. A folding make up mirror allows you to go to the light- often a desk with a table lap or even the nightstand. Pro tip: if everyone is getting ready at the same time and there just isn’t enough room, head to the hotel’s public restrooms! Lots of mirror space, a sink and decent lighting for putting on your face or doing your hair. Plus, you’ll usually have the place to yourself that early in the morning!
Another roommate must- earplugs and an eye mask. I don’t know about you, but I get super cranky if I don’t get any sleep. Sleeping with 3 other people who aren’t your spouse, is bound to keep you up. Earplugs are great to keep out noise from early risers getting ready in the dark, as well as excited chattering from night owls. Be sure to put these in your bag when packing for conference!
I also like to take a small first aid type kit. I put a tiny pair of scissors in there (check with TSA if you’re flying!), needle and thread for any last minute repairs, and bandaids for blistered heels (or slips with that needle). Also, Sudafed if you are bothered by air conditioning, Advil because the Mexican restaurant has the BEST margaritas and they are biiiiiiig, Rolaids because we are eating out every meal for 3 days and cough drops to help quell any noisy coughing in the back of the meeting room. *ahem* Hard candies will do the trick, too.
What should you bring with you everyday?
Obviously, you’ll have some sort of bag to carry your note taking accoutrements in. Often times, Pampered Chef and other conventions will give you a tote bag upon registering. But now your bag looks just like everyone else’s. Pack yourself a pretty ribbon or tie to attach to your bag and distinguish it from other’s.
Your phone or tablet will be an amazing device for you in a rapid note taking situation. I really prefer taking my iPad and pencil as opposed to a notebook and pen. With my iPad, I can be writing away, snap a picture of a wordy slide, then add it right to the document where it belongs. Easy peasy. If you’re still a paper person and need to take a pic of a slide, I suggest writing the title of the slide in caps, then using a highlighter to indicate it’s a slide and giving yourself some clue as to which one.
Speaking of pictures, make sure you have enough storage on your chosen device by deleting non-essential pictures or just getting a new storage card! Also, research the Cornell note taking system before you go. It may be a good way for you to capture massive amounts of info without having to type/write everything verbatim.
If we’re using tech, we need juice. Bring a portable charger or power bank to recharge your mobile devices on the go. Pro tip: wanna meet a new friend? Pack an extra charger in your bag. Someone is bound to be out of juice and you are now able to help. Maybe they’ll repay you with a good business tip!
Lastly, a few other odds and ends like business cards to exchange information when you meet someone new. Keep a few in your lanyard behind your name tag so they’re ready for you to grab. And write a quick note on the back of their card so you can remember who they are later. Most conferences will have water jugs around, so bring your refillable water bottle to stay hydrated. It’s easy to forget this basic human need when everything else is screaming for our attention. And don’t forget your protein bars and quiet snacks. There’s 2 things that are always super loud in a meeting room during a presentation: crinkling wrappers and growling bellies. Don’t be that girl.
Don’t weigh yourself down by bringing a ton of stuff with you to the workshops. What seems manageable at 8am is hardly so at 8pm!
Before Packing for Conference:
Listen, I know it’s exciting! We get ourselves all wound up about going and question our clothing choices relentlessly until the last minute. But I feel it’s really important to take time to relax before we even leave. Packing for conference can wait an hour. Breathe and center yourself before you even start your travel. It’s going to be a very busy, mentally and physically exhausting few days. Take time before leaving to prepare yourself to be a sponge. If you’re exhausted when you leave, your brain is going to take the first few hours of conference to unwind and detangle all the packing frenzy we just had! Easier to say than to do. But if you can manage it, you’ll leave Conference with a bit more “get shit done” energy and it will take you less time to recooperate once you get home.
AND ONE MORE THING…
This is probably the most important of all. Yet, so many people leave them at home! Don’t leave your Brave Pants behind! You are spending money to attend your conference. Sometimes a lot of money. Don’t leave the most valuable resource there untapped- the other Consultants. There are people who have been in business longer than you, some who have been in business less than you, but everyone has their personal strengths. Talk to everyone! Ask them questions. Offer to swap successful business tips or show ideas. Check out their name badge ribbons and use those as conversation starters! Are they a Director? Ask how they got there. Are they an Elite Seller? Ask their biggest tip for achieving that. Million dollar seller? Ask how long it took them to hit that milestone. You’ll find a wealth of information roaming the halls at conference, not just in the meeting rooms. Put those brave pants on every day and see what can happen.
Don’t forget to grab your printable list so you don’t leave anything important behind while packing for conference!
And HAVE FUN!!
I'd love to hang with you over at my free Facebook group.
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