Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Packing It In...

So, it is two in the morning, and I feel as giddy as a five year old on Christmas Eve. Tomorrow—or should I say today­—I am flying to Orlando for my very first Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference. I know—you’re thrilled too, I can tell ;)

I have been planning for this trip for months, and now that it is finally here I am all kinds of excited. About what? Well, first of all, I can’t wait to meet with all of the lovely ladies of my online critique group who function more as my online support group than anything else these days. Internet interaction is great, but I am thrilled to actually talk to these ladies in person.

Secondly, so many of the wonderful authors who I have read and come to love over the years will be there, live and in person. These accomplished woman not only provide me with inspiration with their talented writing, but give me a goal to aim for in my career. Julia Quinn, here I come :)

Thirdly, I will have the opportunity to hobnob with some of the best and brightest in the industry, including all those wonderful agents and editors I have been doing my best to get noticed by.

Fourth, I am eager to learn as much as humanly possible from the oodles of workshops I plan on attending. It's possible to cram two years worth of knowledge into three days, right? RIGHT?

But, if I were honest, I am most excited about packing. Yes, I know, I have tried to ease you into my obsession, beloved reader, but the truth is, I love packing just about as much as the actual trip. For this trip, I was able to pack for a six day trip, two changes of clothes a day, swimsuits, electronics, and over FIFTY cupcakes … all in two carry–ons. I know. It’s a gift ;) Truly, though, through the years, I have honed it down to an art, and today, I will impart some of my best and brightest tips for the perfect packing experience.

You thought I was kidding about the 50 cupcakes, didn't you ;)

1.) Decide on a color palate. 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.

Yellow to blue ... makes for easy accessorizing

2) Choose outfits ahead of time. In the week (or month, depending on how OCD you may be) leading up to the trip, clear a space to hang up all the clothes you are planning on taking. 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) Roll clothes tightly. Anything that does not need to be hung up should be rolled, not folded. After they are rolled ….

4) 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.

Handy-dandy packing cube

5) 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.

6) 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.

7) 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.

Notice all my sneaky snacks (raisons, granola bars, fruit snacks)

8) 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 ;)

9) Utilize space inside shoes. Pack smaller items, like socks and underwear, into quart-sized Ziploc bags and stuff inside shoes.

10) Wear your heaviest / bulkiest items on the plane. If traveling in the winter, I always wear my boots and jeans in transit. Also, a coat/jacket is never considered carryon, so load those pockets up!

Here are some of my ‘general travel’ tips. I hope this stuff can come in handy!

11) Bring a water bottle. Drain a water bottle, then crunch it up and screw the lid on. Once you are past security, you can un-crunch it (I usually have to blow into it) and refill it at a water fountain.

12) Bring the smallest umbrella you can find - you will probably need it!

13) Bring an extra memory card for your camera, as well as the transfer cord. Download pictures every night if you have your laptop so that if something happens to your camera you still will have most of the pics.

14) Bring blindfolds, earplugs, and socks on the plane. I also sometimes bring a hoodie for added light/sound protection. I have a blow-up neck pillow that I love, but the plane will have little pillows too if you don't want to buy one.

15) Do something to your luggage to make it easily identifiable from a distance. Neon tags or brightly colored ribbon tied around the bag tightly are a good way to make a generic bag stand out.

And last but not least, some out-of-country travel tips:

16) Scan in a copy of your passport and email to yourself and your emergency contact. Also email a full itinerary to your contact. Make color copies of your passports and keep them separate from your real passport.

17) You MUST notify your credit / debit card company of your travel plans. Email yourself copies of the front and back of the cards so you can have your information should something be stolen. Keep a backup card hidden in a piece of luggage - possibly inside a maxi-pad packet or in the sole of one of your shoes.

18) You must also notify your cell phone companies if you plan on being able to use them. Do this as soon as possible to make sure they have time to make changes to your account.

Oh, and one more:

Make sure you pack your cupcakes with care!

So tell me, what are your favorite packing tips? Did you find anything useful in this list?

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope everyone has a wonderful week!


  1. You are the master, I sit at your feet in awe. Terrific tips. If only I could stick to them. Unfortunately, I am a "pantser" when it comes to getting dressed and I like many many options for whatever mood may strike me. That's why I need stout british women to help me with my luggage when I travel (do I get extra points for mentioning 2 of your other posts?:) I can't believe you made all those cupcakes! Go EK Go!! Have a terrific time:)

  2. My favorite part of packing? Figuring out how I can afford to pay YOU to do it for me next time! That was a seriously awesome presentation!

    And I don't know how I survived before the invention of Ziploc bags. If it weren't for those, I'd never be able to pack all my "essential maintenance" items -- it doesn't take a village, it takes a solar system to keep me looking decent. LOL

    Hope you have a great conference. I'm definitely going next year -- even if I have to pack all my stuff myself! :)

  3. Ha - Kara, I was indeed impressed with your blog recall :) And I can't imagine you with just one or two small bags - it just isn't you! Have a great week, and thanks for stopping by.

  4. LOL, Donna, if only I could! Yes, Ziploc bags are one of the 7 wonders of the modern world, in my opinion.
    Thanks for dropping by to say hello - I hope to see you at the next conference!

  5. I always bring my own bandaids (and other feminine products) for blisters and such. Get cheap at home as opposed to paying inflated hotel shop rates.

    I pare down my keys - car and house only. I also pair down the wallet: One mini wallet big enough to hold cash, one credit card and drivers license. That way what can be lost is at the absolute minimum.

  6. Enjoy the conference! My packing tips: 1) Always bring something warm even if you don't expect it to be cold and 2) Leave a little extra room for souvenirs, etc. on the home trip.

  7. Have fun at conference! I hope to go next year too. NYC is a quick trip up the Northeast Extension for me. We'll see how it goes.

  8. Beth and Andy, those are great suggestions! Interestingly enough, I bought blister protectors for my feet and *gasp* forgot to pack them! Shameful, I know :)
    Looking forward to seeing you here, Beth.
    Andy, I have a whole bag to bring back goodies thanks to all the give-away cupcakes ;)

  9. Thanks, Marnee! I hope it goes well here; if it does, I'll look forward seeing you in NY next year. Thanks for stopping by to say hello!

  10. great tips ek-you are definitely the packing master :) i hope you are having a fun week!

  11. Thanks, Andi! I just did some writing by the pool, so I'd say I'm off to a great start ;)

  12. WOWZER! This is probably one of the most brilliant and comprehensive treatises I've ever seen on the subject of packing...and I've been practicing at this skill (with mixed results) for a pretty long time. Man, a romance writer with a packing fetish...there ought to be a good novel in there somewhere!;-) I will say, though you left off the"underwear thing"; you know, the tip about wearing all your underwear at one time while your traveling so you can save some more of that precious room for incidentals, like, uh, er....cupcakes, I guess. And, oh, the related one about carrying half of what you need...you know, the inside out thing.;-D

    Seriously, though, EK, this is an awesome piece...and I did pick up a couple of new tricks from you. Thanks, Sweetie, and have a FABULOUS time at your conference. And if you ever decide that writing is not your cupcake, you might consider extorting luggage companies by threatening to go public with your knowledge and expertise! Just a thought....

  13. MarkMc, you are too funny :) I haven't quite graduated to the wearing of half of what I need, lol. Thanks for the well wishes for the conference, and for stopping by to say hello! I promise I will give a report when things calm down a bit!