New York, New York! What to Pack for the RWA National Conference
As a fifteen-year veteran of National Conference and a sometime visitor to NYC, here's my advice.
Pack as lightly as you can. Airlines charge for extra baggage. Consider packing a zippered duffel or a flat rate priority mail box in the bottom of your suitcase for the extra books you may bring home.
How you define "comfortable shoes" depends on your tolerance for pain and for fashion. But I suggest packing
Athletic shoes (if you plan to walk in Central Park or spend an afternoon shopping or at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or even to hit the treadmill) It's faster, cheaper and more fun to walk around NYC than to sit in traffic.
Dress shoes – These are your go-to shoes, the ones that look good and go with most of your wardrobe and won't give you blisters when your feet swell
Flats or sturdy sandals – In case you're wrong about the blisters
Killer heels – For awards night or morale
Black slacks. Come on, this is New York.
2-4 blouses with a pop of color to go with the slacks and the jeans. Not T-shirts, not sweatshirts, for God's sake nothing with a saying on it. Silk is good.
A dress. Maybe two. Black is good. Not too short, not too tight. Think comfort and cool.
Layering pieces. In case you feel too cool. A jacket/blazer to dress up the slacks (especially for those editor/agent appointments) and a lightweight cardigan.
To sleep, lounge, exercise in
T-shirts, dark jeans and/or a summer skirt are good for sightseeing.
Dress up clothes
1-2 outfits that make you feel fabulous.
One for publishers' parties and one for awards night. Even if you're skipping on the parties, we're in NYC (Okay, maybe this is only a thrill for me because I'm from North Carolina). Treat yourself to a nice dinner out and celebrate everything you've accomplished!
Costume jewelry – arty earrings, a chunky necklace, a cuff, something with personality
Scarves to change things up
Before you pack the pantyhose, check out the latest buzz in the pantyhose wars
Camera (If you don't know how to use the one on your phone, this is a great time to learn.)
Ear plugs and/or breathe right strips if your roommate snores. Or if you do.
A really small umbrella (only if you have room).
A fanny pack screams "tourist." If you want to get around with your hands free (and you don't mind digging under your clothes) consider a money belt.
If your phone doesn't map, print off your likely walking and subway routes so you feel comfortable exploring.
Ibuprofen, tummy meds, personal products. Yes, you can buy them there. Do you really want to go looking at 2:00 in the morning?
Something—bookmark, trading card, postcard, business card--with your name, email address, website and/or book cover to give to total strangers and pass around the conference lunch table.
A business card with your real name, email address, telephone number and snail mail address to give to editors, agents, and close personal friends. You can write the name of your manuscript on the back.
If you are a past or present RITA or Golden Heart finalist , don't forget to pack your award pins! This is your chance to look like the military leader of a small third world country.
Fellow veterans and native New Yorkers, what would you add to the list? What would you leave off? If this is your first conference, what do you want to know?