Monday 16 October 2017

Omega Writer's Conference: Packing Tips

By Iola Goulton

Eleven sleeps until conference! (Yes, I'm counting.)

Eleven sleeps means … packing.

I've done a lot of travelling over the years, both alone (for writer's conferences or business) or with my family. Here are my top tips for packing for conference:

1. Plan Ahead

You don't want to get to the airport and discover your passport has expired (yes, I've seen that) or that you got your flight time wrong and it’s leaving as you approach the check-in desk (guilty). Planning ahead can help avoid these little "issues". I use lists.

Travel List

All travel documents and sundries, including:

  • Tickets (I always carry the paper printout even if it’s also on my phone)
  • Passport (if required)
  • Booking confirmations (e.g. transport, rental car, hotel/s, conference)
  • Travel Insurance information

Note the flight time and the check-in time, and remember to factor in travel time to the airport (plus extra time for delays and parking).

Packing List

My basic packing list includes:

  • Toilet bag
  • A basic first aid/medicine kit (I never need it unless I forget it)
  • Kindle and phone, and the respective chargers (wall and car adaptors)
  • PC and charger
  • Any non-clothing items I need to remember (like books!)

I try and focus on the things I either won't be able to buy at my destination, or things that will be overpriced. Forget shampoo? No problem. You’re going to a writer’s conference. First, no one will care if you don’t wash your hair. Second, there are dozens of other women around. Someone will be able to loan you some shampoo.

Forget your underwear? That could be a problem.

One thing to remember: Deodorant. Please.

One thing to leave at home: Perfume. The Omega Conference isn’t designated perfume-free, although many conferences are, for the benefit of people with allergies.

Travel Light

This is the advice "everyone" always gives, but they don't necessarily tell you how to achieve it (I have a couple of suggestions that work for me below). There are two reasons to pack light:

  1. It's easier to carry (or drag)
  2. It gives you room to buy books. Yes, there is a bookstall at the conference, and you will want to buy books.

A lot of travel advice says not to check luggage if you don't have to. This is an option if you can travel light, although it does depend on what the airlines will allow through security, and what had to go in checked luggage. There was a time when this seemed to change every week …

My top tips for travelling light are:

Save the sample sizes

You know how when you buy makeup or skincare there is sometimes a gift-with-purchase? I save those product samples and put them in my holiday toilet bag. Then I don't need to carry full-sized bottles. It also means my toilet bag is pretty much ready to go.

Watch the Shoes

Shoes are bulky. More to the point, they take a lot of space in your luggage. Sure, you can stuff things inside them, but it’s better to take fewer pairs. The conference is only two nights, so you probably need one or two pairs … and you’ll be wearing one of them as you travel.

When I go on holiday, I take as few pairs of shoes as possible, in the same colour, or coordinating colours.

Choose comfortable, flat shoes. There is squishy grass around, and you’ll be doing a lot of standing (and chatting), and a little walking (from the dorms to the classrooms and dining hall). You may also want a nicer pair to match your outfit if you plan to dress up for the CALEB Award dinner on Saturday night. Some do; some don’t.

If you’re flying, make sure your travel shoes are easy to slip on and off, in case security needs to put them through the scanner.

Plan Coordinating Outfits

This goes along with the shoes. I have two basic colour "themes" in my wardrobe: black and navy. When I go on holiday, I take one theme, and I make sure that I have at least two tops to go with every bottom (skirt or trousers), and at least two bottoms I can wear with every top. It adds variety, and helps me not get too bored with limited wardrobe choices on a long holiday.

But this is just a weekend, which is much easier. I’ll pack:

  • Something comfortable to travel in. That’s usually jeans, because I tend to get cold on planes. But I’ll have something lighter to change when I arrive, if the weather is warm.
  • Something smart but comfortable for Saturday (you want to make a good impression if you’re meeting with publishers or editors).
  • Something nice for Saturday night (the CALEB Award ceremony). For me, that’s usually a skirt. I’ll probably wear the same skirt on Sunday, with a different top.
  • Layers (because the weather forecast can be wrong).

I know some people who can wear the same pair of jeans all weekend. I am not that person: if I only had one pair of jeans, you can guarantee I’d spill coffee on them before I even arrived at the venue. I always take one extra top for the same reason. Otherwise, I’m doomed to spend the conference with an obvious stain in an inappropriate place (like my friend who sat on a pumpkin pie. Yes, it looked exactly like you think it looked).

What Else Do I Need?

  • Cash, as you can only pay for editor appointments in cash. And there is a bookstall.
  • Printouts of your synopsis and/or first three chapters if you’re planning to sign up for editor or publisher appointments.
  • Notebook and pen, because you’ll want to take notes. Lots of notes. Although I have it on good authority there is a pen in the goody bag (yes, there is a goody bag).
  • Highlighters (blue, yellow, green, pink, orange). Because I’m sure Margie will talk about highlighters. Also, I find it cements my learning if I review my notes on my way home and highlight the important stuff.

You can also bring business cards if you have them (don’t worry if you don’t, as most people don’t), and a laptop if you plan on doing any writing (as if you'll have time!).

Okay, those are my tips. What tips do you have to share? And do you have any exciting travel plans?

About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 

I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more at

You can also find me on:
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  1. Great article, Iola! Those packing tips are great. Looking forward to meeting you at conference!

  2. A very useful post as to what to expect. Excited!

  3. Excited to see you again, Iola ... hopefully we can sit-down and have a yarn!

  4. These tips are about the same in all my travels in Australia & S E Asia. Thanks for the reminder!!!


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