The Ultimate #RWA12 Conference Packing List

by Jami Gold on July 17, 2012

in Over-Achieving Perfectionist

Stack of old-fashioned suitcases with text: The Ultimate Conference Packing List

I’m leaving in a week to attend the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Annual Conference, which is meeting in Anaheim, California this year. This will be my third conference and my second RWA National. So, why am I nervous?

Oh yeah… I’m giving a workshop this time around. By myself.

How did that happen?

If you remember from my post talking about what makes us feel legitimate, I was supposed to do this workshop with my friend Rachel Graves. Since that post, life exploded and Rachel not only isn’t able to join me for the workshop, but she’s also not able to come to the RWA conference at all. *sad face*

She’s the one who came up with the idea for the workshop, so this change in plans bums me out in more ways than one. But as they say, the show must go on, so I’ll be presenting the workshop by myself.

If you’re going to the RWA conference, let me know so we can meet up. And if you’re interested in my Develop a Free Author Website in 60 Minutes (or Less!) workshop, I’ll be presenting it on Friday, July 27th, at 9:45am in the Platinum 7 room at the Anaheim Marriott. Here’s the blurb:

Develop a Free Author Website in 60 Minutes (or Less!) (CAREER)
Speaker: Jami Gold
Got an hour? Get a website! In this workshop—presented by a social media ninja—learn how to create an author website using WordPress and other free Internet resources.

*blinks* Yep, that’s still my name up there, all by its lonesome. So now in addition to my usual stress over packing for a conference and prepping for a pitch appointment, I’m also getting ready for my workshop. It’s a good thing I have my handy-dandy ultimate packing list from the last time I went to RWA National.

The Ultimate RWA Conference Packing List

  • Clothes (casual business most of the time, dressier business for pitches or editor/agent meetings, dressy for Awards Ceremony)
  • Comfortable shoes & gel inserts
  • Snacks for between workshops when you can’t stop for lunch
  • Medications (no hangovers allowed) & prescriptions
  • Your schedule
  • Laptop/cellphone/camera (& chargers/power cords)
  • Paper/pen/highlighter
  • Business cards
  • Small toiletry case for purse or bag
  • Some way to ship back or carry your goodies
  • Some way to personalize your RWA tote bag to make it easier to find among the 2000 identical bags
  • Small sewing kit for wardrobe malfunctions
  • Bandaids for blisters
  • Mints/candies to suck on for energy and fresh breath
  • Swimsuit/coverup/workout clothes (for all that *ahem* unscheduled time you don’t have)
  • Cardigan for chilly conference rooms
  • Dress purse for Awards Dinner
  • Earplugs, white noise app on phone
  • Umbrella (shouldn’t need this for California this year)
  • Cash for tips, Literacy Booksigning, dining with friends, vending machines
  • Extension cord for hotel room (2-4 women, 1 sink—do the math)
  • Extra hangers for hanging all your nice clothes in the closet
  • Pins for lanyard (PRO, chapter, etc.)
  • Sharpie marker, tape
  • Hand sanitizer, wet wipes, stain stick or wipes, moisturizer

Other things to prepare and do:

  • Print out of hotel reservation, and email all important documents to yourself to ensure you have copies
  • Attach business card to phone/camera in case it gets misplaced
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water

*whew*  All right, what am I forgetting? *smile*

Do you have anything else to add to this list? Are you going to the RWA conference? How do you prepare for big trips (are you as much of a over-achieving perfectionist as I am, or do you go with the flow)? Have you given workshops or presentations before? What advice do you have for me?

P.S. If you’d like to attend my workshop but aren’t going to RWA, stay tuned, as I’ll be offering it through other venues soon.

P.P.S. If you live in the Anaheim area, the Literacy Autographing event is open to the public:

The 2012 “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center at Wednesday, July 25, 2012, from 5–8 p.m. in the Ballroom (third floor). There is no admittance fee. Please note: All books to be signed must be purchased at this event. Proceeds from book sales go to ProLiteracy Worldwide, Read Orange County, and Literacy Volunteers—Huntington Valley.

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35 Comments below - Time to Add your own.

Angela Quarles July 17, 2012 at 7:34 am

Hey roomie! Great timing on post, I had just gone to Delta to see what I can bring free, and its dimensions, and amount I have to pay for checked items. I will definitely be whipping out my latent OCD tendencies for packing this go around. Good idea on an extension cord–I have a smallish white one, want me to pack it?

What do you use the sharpie/tape for?

I have a ballgown for Sat– can I get away with just one cocktail dress for the rest of the time?


Jami Gold July 17, 2012 at 10:36 am

Hey Roomie! 🙂

LOL! Yes, latent OCD tendencies for the win. *fist bump* Sure, if you have room, pack the extension cord. I’m going to have one too, but that’s usually filled with chargers for my phone and laptop. 🙂

The sharpie/tape is for if you’re going to ship boxes of books home. We usually get freebie books in the registration bags, and then you can get more by visiting the Goody Room (free), the Literacy Autographing event (purchase), or by attending some of the publisher booksignings (free). Last time I brought home 80 free books. That was probably a bit excessive. 😉

Ooo, a ballgown–that’s awesome. Really, there’s no such thing as overdressing for the Awards Ceremony. Last time, I saw everything from dressy pantsuits to floor-length, red-carpet-worthy, beaded gowns. Generally, the Golden Heart and RITA finalists are the dressiest. I’ll probably just have a cocktail dress. As for the other nights, evening attire would depend on whether someone has plans to attend any of the parties or other get-togethers. Some chapters and publishers sponsor parties, and sometimes those will be fancy or costumed affairs. So it all depends on your schedule.

See you soon! 🙂


Angela Quarles July 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Yep, the skills are latent– reading Buffy’s comment it reminded me of what I used to do. I don’t know what happened to make me stop, but I used to make a packing list. I used to be so much more organized, lol! 🙁


Jami Gold July 17, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Hi Angela,

Oh yeah, back when I used to have just a normal office job and no family and no writing, I used to be more organized too. In other words, I used to be worse than I am now when it comes to this obsessive, detail-oriented stuff. LOL! See you soon!


Buffy Armstrong July 18, 2012 at 10:33 am

It helps that I don’t have children. Well, I have a husband so that’s a distraction…


Buffy Armstrong July 17, 2012 at 7:56 am

I am little obsessive compulsive when I pack for a trip. (I’m even more obsessive compulsive about my day job, but that’s a whole other story. I am complete control freak!) I make a list of the outfits I will need (casual/business casual/dinner dressy/formal.) A week or so before the trip, I go through my wardrobe and pick out outfits that fulfill those requirements. That gives me time to shop if I am missing something. I then make a list of those outfits for my packing list. Then I pick out shoes and accessories and add those to the list. I have a manila folder that contains all of my lists. Everything gets checked off when they are added to the suitcase.

I am looking forward to your presentation on RWA12. I’m sure you will do great. I have confidence in you!


Jami Gold July 17, 2012 at 10:42 am

Hi Buffy,

LOL! Yes, I have a checklist I use for every trip, whether for a family trip, a big vacation, or something like this, so I understand. I first met my friend Rachel (the one who can’t do the workshop with me) at RWA10 because she was admiring my color-coded spreadsheets for my workshop schedule. 🙂

I’m glad to know I’m not the only one. 🙂 Thanks for the comment and it will be great to meet you!


Kat Latham July 17, 2012 at 9:30 am

I’m so sorry you’re presenting on your own! My roommie had to back out at the last minute too, so now I’m rooming by my lonesome.

Thanks for this list. I packed about five minutes before reading this and I’ve got pretty much everything!

Would love to meet you in person!


Jami Gold July 17, 2012 at 10:46 am

Hi Kat,

Yay! I finally get to meet you. 🙂

Oh, that’s a bummer about your roommate. Luckily I was able to find a new roomie after Rachel had to back out. I’ll email you about getting together at RWA. Thanks for the comment!


angelaackerman July 17, 2012 at 9:39 am

Have a blast at the conference! RWA puts on the best events. And YOU WILL BE AWESOME PRESENTING! Wish I could attend. 🙂



Jami Gold July 17, 2012 at 10:48 am

Hi Angela,

Yes, when I went to RWA10, I was shocked at how well organized it was. It’s really a top-notch conference. I wish you were going too–I’d love to meet you. 🙁

Thanks for the vote of confidence and for the comment! 🙂


Tamara LeBlanc July 17, 2012 at 10:34 am

Jami, I’m so bummed. This is the first time in about 6 or 7 yrs that I’m missing the RWA nationals conference.
It’s funny, I came to terms about not being able to go months ago. But just now when you mentioned you’ll be there, my heart sank. I would have LOVED to take your workshop. And It would have been wonderful to meet you in person.
What a shame.
Hopefully you’ll make it to next year’s RWA conference in Atlanta. And hopefully, if you’ll be going, you’ll teach a workshop. I can’t think of a better instructor than you!!
Have a wonderful time in CA!! Teach much, learn lots and network plenty!!!
Best wishes to you,


Jami Gold July 17, 2012 at 10:54 am

Hi Tamara,

Oh no! 🙁 I’m so bummed that I won’t get to meet you too. *hugs*

If I’m not at Atlanta, I should be at RWA14 in San Antonio, as barring any publication release schedule, I’m currently on an every-other-year schedule of budgeting for this big trip. 🙂 Thanks for the good wishes and for the comment!


Amanda July 17, 2012 at 11:26 am

This sounds like so much fun!

Oh. Advice. Breathe 🙂 And even though I’ve never been to a conference or other event as jam packed as this one looks to be, I can’t travel ANYWHERE without a book. Even if I’m going through Portland and can hit up Powell’s City of Books, I HAVE to have something, just in case. My last “just in case” book was kind of a mistake, thought (well over 2000 pages long) so try a paperback 🙂


Jami Gold July 17, 2012 at 11:32 am

Hi Amanda,

LOL! Thanks for the laugh. 🙂

Well, my flight is only about an hour, as I’m just going from Phoenix to LA. It’s practically next door. 😉 But yes, I’ll have my laptop and my Kindle and there will be plenty of real books around once I sign in at registration. Seriously, RWA National is like a book slut’s heaven. LOL! Thanks for the comment!


Stina Lindenblatt July 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I bought today a dress and shoes for the award ceremony. I wasn’t going to go, but changed my mind. I’ll be the one wearing high heels for the first time, and looking like I’m wearing high heels for the first time. lol


Jami Gold July 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Hi Stina,

I’m tall, so I rarely wear heels. I’ll be wearing dress flats. LOL! See you soon!


Adriana Ryan July 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm

OMG Jami, so exciting!!!! You’re going to be great! 😀 I’m not going to RWA this year, but will be next year for sure. And you better be there! 😉 Congrats and good luck–it’s going to be a runaway success!


Jami Gold July 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Hi Adriana,

Oh, boo. 🙁 I don’t know if I’ll be going next year or not. I’m usually on a every-other-year schedule.

Thanks for the good wishes and the comment! 🙂


Caroline Godin July 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Definitely going to try and come to your workshop. Wordpress is my nemesis. Are they recording it for the CD-ROM too just in case? Look forward to meeting you in person.


Jami Gold July 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Hi Caroline,

The workshop list doesn’t indicate it isn’t being recorded, so I assume it is. I’ve been planning my workshop schedule and I want to be at 4 (sometimes even 5!) places at once. LOL! So believe me, I understand the dilemma. 🙂

Thanks for the comment!


Melinda Collins July 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Hi Jami!

Yays!!! Oh how I wish I could be there, but I look forward to attending and learning from you when you present this workshop again in the future.

Your packing list is fairly similar to the one I’ve made for my trip to CO for a class with Margie Lawson. LOL! I so love knowing I’m not the only OCD writer around here! 🙂

Now with the presentation/workshop, this is definitely something I can help you with. I’ve had to do at least 4 presentations in the last year and half at my dayjob, and just about every one was for a room packed with about 75-90 people. My best advice is to prepare by going through your entire presentation – slide by slide, word for word. Practice, practice, practice. My husband is an expert on time management, prioritization, and communication skills simply because I have made him sit through each of my presentations at least 5 times while I practiced. Also, write bullet points for each slide on an index card, but do those as your doing a practice run-through to a pretend audience. That way you already know the direction you naturally go in so the index cards flow in the same direction. My last tip is to be always be conscience of the words “uh”, “um”, and the like. I have a bad habit of saying these when I get stuck, and once you’re conscience of it, you won’t do it (or at least not as much).

And finally, BE CONFIDENT BECAUSE YOU’RE GONNA ROCK IT! You are good at what you do and how you do it, you social media ninja! So don’t be nervous – even though I know it’s easier said than done. 😉


Jami Gold July 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Hi Melinda,

Ooo, I like that index card trick. I was thinking about printing out the actual slide deck, but that would be big and bulky. Index cards could work well. Thanks for the tip and the vote of confidence! 🙂


Matthew Shields July 18, 2012 at 8:47 am

Congrats on the recognition/speaking engagement!


Jami Gold July 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Hi Matt,

Thanks! It’s kind of nerve-wracking right now, but I think it will be a good thing in the end. 🙂


Debra Kristi July 18, 2012 at 8:33 pm

You have the butterflies before the performance. You are going to be great! Deep breaths. You know your stuff. Lord knows I could use your help. I have to double check the schedule. I can’t remember if there was a conflict or not. 😐 I need to find out what’s being recorded and what’s not. But Word Press seriously hates me. I need all the help I can get.

When you are packing, bring large USPS flat rate shipping boxes if you want to get you new books home fairly quickly. Media mail can move at a snails pace.


Jami Gold July 18, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Hi Debra,

Thanks! I’ve done public speaking plenty of times before. My worries are more stupid: “What if I can’t figure out how to connect my laptop to the projector???” Um, yes, I may be a touch neurotic about the details. 🙂

I hope to see you there (if you do come, make sure to say ‘hi”), but if you can’t make it, I completely understand. I just finished building my color-coordinated spreadsheet schedule, and I need to be in 5 places at once several times. LOL! Thanks for the comment and sharing your tip!


Debra Eve July 18, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Jami, good luck and have a wonderful time. So disappointed I won’t be able to attend. I live down the freeway from Anaheim, but I’ll be in Taos next week. Can’t believe the only week I’m out of town, all this fabulous stuff is happening. Maybe next year!


Jami Gold July 18, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Hi Debra,

Oh no, what timing. 🙁 But Taos is lovely. I hope you’re going there for a fun getaway.

Thanks for the good wishes! 🙂


Cindy Dwyer July 22, 2012 at 7:38 pm

White noise App!!!! I never thought of that. Must download right now.

You’ll do great at the conference, have fun.


Jami Gold July 22, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Hi Cindy,

Yes, I haven’t warned my roomie of this yet, but I’m a very light sleeper. I’ll probably use earplugs. 🙂

Thanks for the good wishes and for the comment!


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