Are you traveling for a convention or conference? As parents, we often know exactly what to pack for our kids but struggle with packing everything we need ourselves. It’s especially important to pack everything you need for a convention, but often those schedules are packed and it’s difficult to leave the premises to shop for essentials.
Here’s our convention packing list including items that you’ll need specifically for your next convention. We also have a printable list with general solo trip essentials below that you can download. Remember that if you are attending specialized conferences, like fan conventions and dance conventions, you may need specific things like costumes, a dance bag, and/or portable steamers for your outfits.
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Convention Packing List : Must-Have Items to Pack for a Conference or a Convention
Clothes For Your Trip
While we sometimes will re-wear clothes on vacation (especially if we can do laundry on the trip), you really won’t be able to do that at a convention. You’ll see the same people over and over again, so it’s important to have something new to wear each day.
In some cases, you may need two outfits per day. If your convention includes evening events, including dinners or parties, you’ll probably want to change into another, dressier outfit. Garment bags can be helpful for keeping your clothes unwrinkled, but I prefer to pack my suitcase by rolling my clothes in packing cubes.
Check with your conference details before packing to see what the itinerary includes. Some conferences will even have themed dinners and you’ll want to pack especially for that event.
If you have limited space in your suitcase, consider mixing and matching pieces in your wardrobe so you have enough space. A different jacket or sweater can change up the look of an outfit.
You’ll also want to see if your event includes any downtime, where you may enjoy time at the beach, pool, or spa. In that case, you’ll also want to pack a swimsuit, coverup, and anything else you may need.
I also like to pack a small spray of wrinkle releaser in case my clothes are a little wrinkled. If you roll your clothes and/or use packing cubes, you probably won’t have to iron them. But it’s still nice to give them a quick spray and refresh them.
If you are visiting in the cooler months, remember to pack a light jacket (or a heavier one) if you go outside the convention center. Comfortable shoes are also essential if you have to do a lot of walking in and around the convention hall.
I always travel with at least my tablet, even if I’m not sure I’ll need it for the actual convention. You’ll probably have some time in the evenings and/or between sessions, and may want to check in with work, answer emails, or even get some work done.
If you want to travel light, a tablet should work. However, I usually want access to all of my programs and applications, and therefore need my computer to really get anything significant done.
I also use my computer to watch TV on streaming apps at night. I always like to watch something as I’m getting ready for bed and getting ready in the morning, and the hotel televisions don’t always have the ability to stream.
While so much of what we do is online, often business cards are handed out at conventions and conferences. Make sure you have enough before you leave because it can often take a few weeks for them to come in.
I usually put my business cards in the pocket of my bag so I have easy access to them when I want to hand one to someone. If you have an open lanyard/name tag, you may also slide a few behind the name card.
Pack everything inside a large tote bag that can carry all of your belongings and important things to and from your hotel room. This may include your laptop, business cards, phone, chargers, notebook, pens, and wallet.
For most conferences, I’ll use this bag as my underseat luggage/carry-on bag so I don’t have to pack it separately. Don’t forget to also pack a small bag or purse you can use when you attend dinners or other evening events.
If you are visiting vendor booths at the event, it’s a good idea to make sure you have enough storage space in your bag for anything you may pick up at the booths.
I really like this bag from Amazon, which includes lots of space for small items and essentials. It’s also stylish and compact.
Don’t forget your chargers. It can sometimes be difficult to get replacements for them on the road, especially if you are in a remote area, or don’t have a car. For conferences where I’ll sit at a table with other attendees, I try to label my charger in some way with my name or with washi tape. That way, you’ll know which ones are yours, and it’ll be easier to identify if you leave them behind.
While many conventions will have ample outlets and hopefully even a power strip on each table, I still always travel with my portable charger for my mobile devices. You won’t want to end up with a dead phone, and batteries can run low during the day.
Consider having the convention schedule printed out for easy reference once you are there. I like to highlight sessions that I want to attend, as well as where (in which rooms) those specific events are being held.
While some conferences and conventions do hand out paper schedules, that is becoming less common in favor of apps and online schedules. You may still want to reference the online schedule to make sure nothing has changed, but it’s always nice to have a hard copy to glance at.
Notebook and Pen
I admit I’m still old-fashioned when it comes to pen and paper. When I take my conference notes, I don’t always write in a linear fashion. So it can be a little tricky to take notes on a computer.
I’ll sometimes use Procreate and my Apple pencil on my iPad, but I still do find that pen and paper are easier. If you travel with a bullet journal, you can always use that to take notes. Otherwise, a standard notebook should suffice.
Lipbalm, Hand Sanitizer, and a Nail File
After years of going to conferences, these are the three items I always include in my bag for the day. Lipbalm is important because your lips can easily dry with the forced hot air or a/c that is often in convention centers.
Hand sanitizer is also important, especially if you are shaking hands. You also may not get enough time to wash your hands before snacks or lunch, and hand sanitizer can work in a pinch.
I added a nail file to my bag after I realized that my nails always seemed to break as soon as I sat down at a conference. Rather than break the nail, you can use a file to clean it up.
I never seem to drink enough water at conventions, and I often end up with a dry throat at the end of the day. Bring your own reusable water bottle and you’ll always have something to drink. Many hotels and convention centers now have refill stations where you can always keep your water bottle topped off with filtered water.
It can be blazing hot outside, and most convention centers will still be freezing. Even if I’m visiting a warm climate, or attending a summer convention, I always make sure I have a light sweater with me. Pack a neutral-colored sweater and always keep it in your bag so you won’t be cold.
If you are going to be sitting taking notes, a nice leather portfolio can be a professional touch. I have one that includes a sleeve for my tablet, so it’s all in one place. Most of them also have a spot for business cards.
Sometimes there will be a bowl of mints on the tables, but that’s not always a guarantee. I always travel with mints and keep a tin in my bag at all times.
Of course, in addition to these specific items, you’ll also have lots of other things to pack for your trip, including toiletries and other necessities. We have a printable packing list you can use to get started with packing. Remember that these lists are a baseline, and you should go through it to make sure it includes everything you’ll need.