Your Conference Survival Kit

With the beginning of writing conference season just around the corner (RT anyone?), and packing for trips on my brain, (I leave tomorrow for 4 full days of chaperoning nine, count them, nine, eighth grade boys for a school band trip to Universal Studios Orlando), I thought it’d be fun to share my must-haves for surviving the artic-blasted conference rooms and crowded hotel elevators of your next writing conference.

Clorox Wipes


I’m not a serious germaphobe but I’ve read enough articles spouting the grotesque reality of what is and what is not typically cleaned in your average hotel room. Door handles, light switches, phones, and the lovely TV remote are often overlooked by the cleaning staff. Do you and your family a favor (who wants to bring home an unwanted and potential illness?) by swiping them down with a Clorox wipe. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.

Hand Antiseptic


Conferences are usually packed with people, and often people you want to get to know. Shaking hands is encouraged, so too, is the touching of elevator buttons and door handles to enter rooms to meet these people. That’s a whole lot of hands, buttons, and handles. Multiply that by the number of people in attendance, and you have yourself a smorgasbord of bacteria waiting to make you ill. This is easily remedied with a quick dollop of hand antiseptic. The tiny potent bottles from Bath and Body Works are my favorite.

LUNA/Nutrition/Energy Bars


Running down halls, slipping into events, and staying up past bedtime to chat with a new friend/editor can wear on a girl. Especially one who is used to a quiet house and hitting the sheets by ten. To keep energy and sugar levels up, I stick a LUNA bar ( in chocolate cupcake, need I say more?) into my purse before heading out in the morning. Gluten-free and good for me, I could do so much worse.

Band-Aid Blister Pads


If I were allowed only one item on this list, the blister pads would be it. I’ve resolved to only bring ‘comfy-cute’ shoes to conferences, but I inevitably slip in a pair of heels that have my tootsies screaming in pain by night’s end. The blister pads are life-savers. I slap one (sometimes two or three) onto my feet and elicit sighs of pleasure. They are also great for Disney/Universal trips. (Can you guess what I’m shoving into my luggage right now?)

Chapstick/Lip Balm


A healing, moisturizing lip treatment is a must in the dry frigid air belching from the hotel vents. Having bits of skin flaking from my lips isn’t something I want to sport while talking with a potential agent. In order to keep my mouth happy AND looking pretty, I use a tinted lip balm free of petroleum (which happens to make my lips burn) from Burt’s Bees. The Red Dahlia shade adds just enough pop to make my pout stand out.

Feminine Hygiene Products


It never fails. I’m a week out from my special date with mother nature when Murphy’s Law kicks in and I’m scrambling in the ladies room, trying to be ‘creative’. Avoid the embarrassment and come prepared. Pack a tampon or two. Or three. They’re small and don’t take up a lot of room in your purse. You’ll thank yourself later. Promise.

Breath Mints/Chewing Gum



There is just something about hotel food that hangs around hours after you’ve eaten. It doesn’t matter that I consume copious amounts of water, my breath still suffers. In order not to scare away an acquiring editor or a soon-to-be friend, I pop a mint into my mouth. Mints are a tish more professional than gum, but whatever your pleasure, please remember to share. That lady next to you needs a mint too. Trust me.

This list could go on and on , but these items, outside of the typical clothing, shoes, and regular hygiene essentials necessary for a business trip, are enough to ensure good times are had at your next conference.

Happy Packing!


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