July 5, 2016

The Ultimate #RWA16 Conference Packing List

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

Those of you who follow my blog know that I’ve struggled with various health issues this year. Despite that, I’m leaving next week to attend the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Annual Conference, which is meeting in San Diego, California, this year.

(Blame my stubborn determination to stick to my every-other-year attendance schedule and the fact that I had to register months ago—when I was more optimistic for quick medical solutions. *shrug*)

Yep, I’ll be there in foot/ankle braces (for nerve and tendon issues) and recovering from my recent jaw surgery (which makes eating a trick), complete with a case of hives, as I discovered yet another allergic reaction to the medication from my surgery two weeks ago. *sigh* Fun, fun.

Actually, I hope the conference experience will be fun, as this time (my fourth RWA National) will also be my first book signing as a published author. Woo hoo!

In addition, I’ve been invited to three awards ceremonies, for the various contests that Treasured Claim and Ironclad Devotion were named as finalists (Booksellers’ Best, National Reader’s Choice, and the PRISM awards). *fingers crossed* Plus, I get to tag along to the VIP table with Angela Quarles (my roomie and writing bestie) for her RITA Award finalist experience. Squee!

Now I just have to get through my usual I’m-an-introvert, pre-conference freak-out panic attack. Wish me luck. *grin*

Going to RWA16? Let Me Know!

If you’re going to the RWA conference, let me know so we can meet up. Putting faces to names is one of the best things about in-person conferences.

And if you’re registered for the conference and interested in coming to my book signing, I’ll be at the Indie Book Signing from 3:00-4:30 pm on Thursday, July 14 in the Marriott Grand Ballroom 1-2. I’ll be signing copies of Treasured Claim and giving away goodies.

(Due to my health, I’ve been forced to cut back on commitments during the conference, so unfortunately, I had to drop out of the Readers for Life Literacy Autographing event. However, if you’re in the San Diego area, that literacy fundraising book signing (with hundreds of authors) is open to the public and free of charge:

Wednesday, July 13
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Pacific Ballroom
San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina)

I am looking forward to the fun aspects of the conference, but the peel-off-my-introvert-shell stress? Ugh. It’s a good thing I have my handy-dandy ultimate packing list from the last time I went to RWA National. *smile*

The Ultimate RWA Conference Packing List

  • Conference outfits (clothes and jewelrycasual 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/RWA2016 app
  • Laptop/cellphone/camera (& chargers/power cords/portable chargers/extra batteries)
  • Paper/pen/highlighter
  • Business cards (and a place to hold others’ 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/safety pins for wardrobe malfunctions
  • Bandaids for blisters
  • Mints/candies to suck on for energy and fresh breath
  • Swimsuit/coverup/workout clothes (for all of that *ahem* unscheduled time you don’t have)
  • Cardigan for chilly conference rooms
  • Dress purse for Awards Ceremony
  • Earplugs, white noise app on phone
  • Umbrella
  • 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 and tape for labeling shipping boxes
  • Hand sanitizer, wet wipes, stain stick or wipes, moisturizer
  • A mini-wheeled cart/dolly (if you need to transport promo or books around)

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? (Let me know if you want to meet up!) 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)? Are you an introvert who struggles with in-person events? How do you handle those situations?

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my Blogiversary Contest.

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Comments — What do you think?

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Sherry Rentschler

Don’t forget those fold-up comfy shoes to use while you are at the signing table. Give those tootsies a break during those hours with a pair of travel slip ons (like they recommend you buy for airline travel). I think they are great for helping your feet catch a rest (even from sneakers and flip flops are just tacky). And this is especially important if you have those foot braces.

The rest of your list is awesome! Thanks!

Diana Beebe

Hi, Jami,
Thanks for the list! I’m halfway through packing and realized I’ve forgotten several things on this list. 🙂

See you there!!

Tracey Alvarez

Hi Jami,
I’m flying to the US from New Zealand tomorrow (OMG! Packing panic!) for my first RWA conference and as another strong introvert, I’m Freaking. Out. I had dreams of it last night, nobody talking to me, wanting to slink away and hide behind a pot plant… *deep breaths* but I’d love to say Hi if I see you there. While I’m not a huge commenter on your blog, I do read every post and have learned so much! Best of luck with the book signing too. 🙂
Tracey A.


Unfortunately I won’t be there….

But, I will be thinking about YOU – hobbling, scratching and eating pureed cauliflower through a straw!

You’re such a trooper.


Hey Jami, I’m going look me up
Wine-Cheese and Chocolate party.

Becca Barray

Hey Jami!
What a fantastic list! I’ll be using it as I pre-pack (?Lol) later today. I’m getting super excited…and super nervous. I’m totally an introvert, too. But at least I know I’ll see your friendly face at some point. ? Last year was my first RWA and everyone was so welcoming and helpful, so my freaking out is slightly less this year. ?
We should try to meet for lunch one day, but if it doesn’t work out, I’ll definitely see you at your book signing. ✍?
Hope you feel better!! (Take lots of drugs!?)
Becca ?

Donovan Quesenberry

Firstly, I love this blog, primarily because I enjoy learning about writing. With that said, OMG, please tell me chicks to not carry all that c&#* around … like, anywhere. Jeeeeesus.
If for no other reason, I will never do a Bruce Jenner.
Dude List For Going Anywhere
backpack with laptop, chargers, and all essential dude stuff, toothbrush, and paste, binoculars, book to read, laser range finder up to 1000 yards, and THE essential list (all the local gun stores … this is because one does not know when the coming Zombie Apocalypse will initiate)
clothes on my back with two pair of socks worn (cause real men wear two pair of socks)
extra clothes? No … cause dudes can buy a 5-pack at WalMart for $10
AND can always turn the undies inside out.
phone, sunglasses
one pair of shoes (worn) and flip-flops.
Springfield XDM 9mm … ‘cause ammo on a plane is by weight, and one can carry more 9mm rounds than .45. (CCL so don’t freak)
DONE. All in one backpack. Life is just … easier … as a dude.
Stay Well,
PS: praying for your return to perfect health 🙂

Christina Hawthorne

Have an enjoyable trip and take care of yourself!

Serena Yung
Serena Yung

Hey Jami, aw, hope you get well soon!

Well, on trips, I’m a pretty spontaneous person; but if I’m travelling with a companion, my companion is free to do as much planning for us as they like, haha. Yeah I don’t really enjoy planning whether in my real life or my writing life…

If I have to do some public speaking or oral presentation, I get very nervous before getting on stage, but sometime after I get on stage, I relax and everything flows.

Clare O'Beara

Kindle while travelling and flying.

Annie Adams

This is such a great list! I almost forgot my lanyard pins. Thank you!

Stacy Jerger

Hi Jami!

I’ll definitely stop by and give you a hug at the signing (from one introvert to another). It’s my first time going to the conference and I’m only SLIGHTLY overwhelmed. 😉


Brooklyn Ann

I’m going! It’ll be my first national and first big signing. I pack ALL the clothes too, but I buy things that don’t need ironed because I just throw everything haphazardly in my suitcase. I did bring nice shoes, but if they bug me too much I’m chucking them in my purse and putting on sandals that conveniently match all my dresses.

And yes, I am extremely introverted and due to being bullied as a child I have major social anxiety, which I will treat with Xanax by day and hard cider by night. I’ll also be wearing my top hat.

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