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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to Pack For Nationals

Do you hear that hum? That buzz of excitement that has been building for weeks, and is now coming to a head? That, my friends, is the sound of over 2,500 romance writers and industry professionals entering their final week before departing for Nationals.

This year, I, along with several of the LadyScribes, will be among those making the trek to NYC next week, ready to soak in all the event has to offer. But, before we can attend those workshops, rub those elbows, and partake in that sketchy conference food, we first must prepare for the journey.

Of all the things to think about, what—and how—to pack seems to be a recurring theme on the various loops and feeds I participate in. As the daughter of a former flight attendant and current pilot (and yes, there is a romance novel in there somewhere!), as well as someone who used to travel frequently with work, I humbly consider myself to be . . . The Queen of Packing. (you're feeling that humbleness, aren't you?)
In a LadyScribes first, I decided to make a video tutorial on how to pack in the most efficient manner possible. If you've ever been subject to the price-gouging of airline bag fees, you might be interested in how to pack for an entire week-long conference (plus four bonus days visiting family) in only one carry-on bag.

In this particular example, that includes over a dozen tops, eight dresses, three pairs of shoes, two pairs of pants, a pair of shorts, a skirt, three belts, a coverup and bathing suit, curlers, makeup, an evening bag, and, last but not least, an awards ceremony ballgown.

[Cracking knuckles] Okay, let's get started. Let's begin with how to whittle down the volume of clothes to pack. The following tips will help you get the most bang for your, er, bag:

1.) Decide on a color palate. For the most part, bottoms should be neutral. Every item that gets packed should be able to be worn with at least 2 other pieces (i.e. shirt that goes with shorts and skirt). By having a common color scheme, it cuts down on how many pairs of shoes, accessories, etc. that you need to worry about.
2) Choose outfits ahead of time. Since conference is only a week away, this means now! Know what you are going to wear each day, and hang that outfit up, including accessories and shoes. If an item gets used multiple times, stick a Post-It note on the hanger in lieu of the item. Then, try everything on as a completed outfit. You want to make sure everything still fits, it is clean, and you like the way everything ‘goes.’
3) Include clothes for a variety of situations. You will need several business appropriate outfits (nice slacks and a blouse, a suit, a sharp dress), at least one or two outfits that can be worn to a nice restaurant, a few casual ensembles, and whatever you do, don't forget a cardigan! I have shivered my way through more than one workshop in the past.
4) The little things. If you don't bring them, I can practically guarantee you will need: Advil/Motrin, blister covers/Band-Aids, travel sewing kit, safety pins, Shout wipes or Tide stick, and eyedrops. So, save yourself the 500% hotel markup and pack them now!

Now that you know what to pack, here is my tips on how to pack:


(This is my updated video, but you can watch the followup of the old video here, which shows all the outfits I can make with the contents of this suitcase:  Here!)

To summarize the tips from the video:
1) Roll clothes tightly. Anything that does not need to be hung up should be rolled, not folded. After they are rolled ….
2) Pack clothes into packing cubes or gallon Ziploc baggies. Not only will it protect your clothes, but you can squeeze out all the air for packing efficiency, and when you repack you can separate the clean from dirty clothes.

3) Hang up dress clothes on 1 hanger. Starting smallest and working towards the bulkier clothes, hang all items on one hanger. You will be amazed how much space you will save without the extra hangers, and it helps to keep items neatly together.
4) Buy a travel-sized Downy Wrinkle Releaser. It comes in handy for fabrics that don't quite need an iron, but could use some freshening up. Also, if you are allergic to perfume like me, it serves to freshen you up as well ;)

1) Pack essentials in your carry-ons. If you can’t fit all items into your carry-ons (and you should, but I am being generous and understanding here), Make sure that at least 2 changes of clothes gets packed in your carry on - as well as pills, jewelry, and electronics.
2) Pack snacks. Bring a bag with breakfast bars and other small snacks for not only the plane but for the entire trip. They usually fit into nooks and crannies and can save you time and money by having on hand.
3) Utilize space inside shoes. Pack smaller items, like socks and underwear, into quart-sized Ziploc bags and stuff inside shoes.

Okay, so that's all I got :) What are some of your tips for packing for Nationals? Are you planning on attending this year?



*UPDATE* - Curious to see all the outfits I could make with the items I packed? Check out the follow up post here!

47 comments:

  1. Erin ~ You're a packing genius! I've actually seen this live and in person. (Though I still don't think I could ever fit as much in a suitcase as you do.) Hope you're leaving a little extra space for a certain award. ;)

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  2. Um, your coming over to pack me up, right? :) I'm with Ava; we'll be cheering you on as you accept. Don't forget us little people when you do. :)

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  3. Ava I have every faith that you can pack just as well as me ;) As for that award . . . {fingers, toes, and eyes crossed!}


    Marquita, you are hilarious :) And no one, my dear, could ever forget you! Oh, and I say we have a Packing party!!

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  4. Erin,
    Great tips! I am in awe of your packing genius!

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  5. Thanks, Julie! I *love* a good packing challenge. You should see me when I pack the car for a long trip - it's like Tetrus in there!

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  6. Okay, I'm on my way to buy those two smaller zip-bags. Those are brilliant! I've traveled extensively and eventually learned most of your tricks. One I didn't see you do was to leave your belts unrolled if you've already used the odd little spaces in your heels, etc. Just wrap them around the outer rim (inside the case) and they take virtually zero space. Good luck for the GH!

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  7. Fabulous tip, Jaye! And yes, those packing cubes ROCK! I have several more in different sizes, all Eagle Creek brand. I have abused the heck out of them for years and they have held up beautifully :)

    Thanks for the GH well-wishes, as well as for stopping by!

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  8. *bows to the packing goddess* We're not worthy!!

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  9. Awesome. So when my bag explodes on the train, it will only be my defective packing. LOL!

    Sharon

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  10. LOL, Ricki - you are too funny! Repeat after me: You ARE worthy and you WILL pack like a goddess! :)


    Sharon, I can remember one time in particular that I was SURE my bag would explode (headed to Italy at the time). When the TSA agent stopped me and rummaged through my bag, he said (and I quote) "Is this Mary Poppins bag?!" Ha! So, lol, have faith in the Samsonite and pack that sucker full!

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  11. I won't be packing for RWA, but I'll be sure to remember these tips when I get ready for my next trip. Wow. I've never seen anyone get so much in a carry-on before! Can't wait to hear about your GH win!

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  12. Catherine, I hope they come in handy for your next trip - RT perhaps? :). Thanks for the good GH juju - I'm more nervous than I would have imagined!

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  13. Wow, excellent tips, Erin! I'm not going to nationals but I'll definitely use these in the future. Good luck on the GH!

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  14. Thank you, Suzie! I SO wish that I could meet you this weekend at the B&N signing, but it's not possible so close to leaving for Nationals :( We must get together SOON!

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  15. You're freakin' amazing, Erin! Thankfully, no packing necessary for Nationals this year, but I'm saving this for when I do have to travel. I'm responsible to pack, not just for me, but for the hubby and baby as well - it's the biggest pain in the butt, especially for someone as disorganized as I am. LOL! Thanks for sharing these phenomenal tips! (P.S. Your house is beautiful!!)

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  16. Aw, thanks Jerrica! Especially for the house comment - you know how many months of torture that reno was!

    You know, in every other aspect I am the most disorganized person. I don't know how I got this one thing down to such a science! I do hope that it helps you in the future, though :)

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  17. Terrific tips, Erin!More room for books on the return trip ;-)

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  18. Exactly, Jennifer! Did I mention that that suitcase is expandable, lol? Although, this year I may actually mail a box of books home to myself - those suckers are heavy!

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  19. You're brilliant, Erin. How would you feel about flying to Idaho and packing mine for me? No? Okay, maybe just tell me where you got that wonderful suitcase?

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  20. Great tips!

    As a former operations supervisor, I never check my bag. I know what goes on down on the ramp. ;)

    Don't forget you can have a carry on and a personal item. Like a laptop bag, purse, etc. And make sure to read the TSA allowables for your makeup and hair products.

    I hadn't learned the Ziploc trick before, but that makes so much sense. I'm going to try it. ;)

    Best of luck with the GH.

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  21. Thanks Clarissa! I may not be willing to fly to Idaho, but I can tell you that my fantastic suitcase is Swiss Army Victorinox Werks Traveler. I have the whole set and I LOVE it :) Of course, I love luggage like most women love shoes, so take it with a grain of salt, lol.

    The website is here, though I did NOT pay anywhere near that much. I got some pieces at TJMAxx, and others at various clearance sales over the years.
    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  22. Oh, Lord, Saranna - I bet you could tell some stories! You are absolutely right about the small personal item - I'll take my computer bag with all my chargers, electronics, and wallet in it.
    Great tip on checking what the TSA allows - I've been frisked before and REALLY don't want to repeat that, lol.
    Good luck with the ziplock technique, and thanks for the good wishes!

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  23. Since I was forewarned of today's topic, and I'm on the far side of the world, I thought it best to read this blog later in my day and get some work done first. Am now going upstairs to repack my suitcase. Erin you have an amazing amount packed into that bag. Thank you so much for sharing your tricks. I am so disorganized by comparison. LOL.

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  24. I hope the tips will help make your cross-world journey a little less cumbersome, Heather! And believe me, packing is the only thing I'm organized about! :)

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  25. Erin,

    You are amazing. Tomorrow I start packing and these tips are great. Can't wait to see everyone in NYC.

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  26. Wow! Thanks. I just traveled and called it a dry run for National. But what is the name of that suitcase? It has a LOT more space in depth than mine.
    I still have to take two cases, though. I carry all the Daphne awards and place them in my carryon then coming home I have extra space for books.

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  27. Samantha, I can hardly wait to see you all again! Happy packing, my dear :)


    Jean, it sounds like you have the perfect system for making room for books, lol! The suitcase is a Swiss Army Victorinox (Werks Traveler series). As I said before - I found all my pieces on great clearance, some at TJMaxx, and some at Sharon Luggage. Thanks so much for stopping by, and good luck transporting your precious cargo!

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  28. Great post. Someone told me about rolling your clothes & I tried it a couple years ago. Amazing how much more you can fit that way & things don't seem to get as wrinkled.

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  29. Thanks, Kristin! And the rolling thing is my favorite of the tips. It's a fabulous technique that I am VERY glad my mother taught me. :) I'm so glad you dropped by to say hello!

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  30. You should have your own show! What a natural you are in front of the camera:) Too too adorable. And that was like watching a magic show -- truly spectacular! As the poster child for how NOT to pack, I am in awe of your packing prowess. Thanks for the helpful tips!!

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  31. Hahaha, Kara! I was wondering when you'd stop by and see that picture of yourself at the beginning of the video :) All in good fun, my dear.

    Thanks for the compliment - the video turned out way better than I had expected it to. I do, however, think I'll stick with the written word ;)
    Thanks for stopping by!

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  32. This is amazing! I am in awe... and I may even try this. You make it seem actually very doable!

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  33. You can do it, Jenn, I know you can! :)

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  34. Okay, that was just cool!!! I'm totally impressed. And I thought I was an efficient packer. You have shown me the error of my ways. LOL.
    ~D~

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  35. First of all, I want your suitcase. Where did you get the dress/fold hanger thing? That's so awesome. Although it won't help for RWA, please do tell the name of the suitcase brand.

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  36. *G* Thanks, Darynda! I have every faith you can do just as well, if not better!


    Sheryl, the dress folder came with the suitcase. I LOVE my luggage - besides the delightful snazzy color, it is a veritable Swiss Army knife of luggage. Literally, lol! The brand is Swiss Army Victorinox (that one is one of the Werks Traveler line).

    You can find it online by doing a google search and following the 'shopping' link. The MSRP is like $500 (gasp!), but you should be able to get it for around $175. I know, still expensive, but when you travel like I do, it is SOO worth it!

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  37. Holy crap! This was incredible. I do wonder how you handle the 'limited' toiletries situation. I bet you have a great solution.
    Sadly, I am not going to Nationals this year. :( But I will bookmark this link - cause I will definitely revisit it for next year. Thanks for sharing.

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  38. OK, I have traveled all over the world, sometimes with just a backpack, but you put me to shame Erin! This was awesome. We are in the presence of packing royalty.

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  39. LOL - Thanks Annie :) I absolutely *adore* travel sized toiletries - they are so cute! Hm, maybe I shouldn't admit that . . . ;)


    Why thank you, Jen - though anyone who can backpack across the world has me beat! Thanks so much for stopping by to say hello!

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  40. Well packed. I'm shocked that you got so much to fit in.

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  41. Amazing, Erin. That's the most ingenious packing I've ever seen. Where did you get your suitcase and the cube-things you have?

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    1. Thanks! The suitcase is Victorinox by Swiss Army (Travel Werks line), and the packing cubes are by Eagle Creek. I have tons of those things - they are brilliant!

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  42. I came over here from Tameri Etherton's place, and I must bow to you. There were at least 4 tips in here that I'd never thought of before. Go, Erin!!

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    1. Glad to be of service! Thanks for stopping by!

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  43. I'm the president of CTRWA and I wanted to let you know that my entire chapter that's going to Nationals has watched this video several times. :D If I can fit my laptop in my purse, I'm going to try and do the carryon thing! :D Thanks so much for the videos!

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  44. Hi Lissa! Thanks so much for dropping by to let me know. I'm tickled that your chapter has found it so useful :-)) I hope to see you there - you can let me know if you were successful or not!

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