What's In My Conference Bag

Hi Everyone!

Happy Sunday! I am so happy to be back with part 2 of my Conference series. As I mentioned in my last post (My Top Tips for Attending a Professional Conference), I attended a conference Monday through Wednesday of this past week.

I had such a great time networking and meeting new colleagues, hearing about the latest innovations in healthcare, and I came back invigorated to continue to make a difference in my work. I think this is the whole point of a conference since it can be very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutia and having a few days to re-focus is critical.

Today, I'm spending the day unpacking and doing laundry, so I thought I would share what I packed for my trip!


For luggage, I have to make a guilty confession. I would love to pretend that I am a light and efficient packer, but I am not at all! I have this piece of Travelpro luggage in both a 21-inch carry on size and a 25-inch size.  The one challenge I find with conferences is that you often have to pack two different outfits for each day. Typically I have found that I need a business outfit for conference sessions during the day and a more casual outfit for dinner or evening networking. Therefore, I opted for the 25-inch checked bag.

I also brought this convertible messenger bag/back pack/brief case. It was the perfect carry on bag and it is surprisingly roomy. Hunter and I both have one actually!

What's In My Conference Bag

Clothing

  • For business attire, I packed one full suit for the day I was presenting, and I traveled in it, so it wouldn't get wrinkled and if my luggage was lost I would still have something to wear!
Only picture I got in my full suit on Day 1.
  • Other than my suit, I brought two different blazers, a pair of black trousers to go with both, and several blouses that I could mix and match.
This picture was taken after I got home from the airport! Excuse the messy hair :) 
  • For evening outfits, I brought these black jeans (no holes or fraying for a conference), a black blouse and a floral blazer (similar outfit featured in this post). I also brought these fun wide-leg pants for an awards reception where the attire was business casual.
    • The key is to have wardrobe pieces that can transition from daytime to evening and show your personality, while still being work-appropriate.
Award Reception Evening Attire

Shoes

  • I brought one pair of pumps and one pair of flats that could go with all of my business attire and a pair of mules and open toe sandals for evening/casual attire.

Psst...I highlighted some of these shoes here and here.

Toiletries & Makeup

  • For toiletries, I'm a big fan of saving samples throughout the year. If you subscribe to any of the monthly beauty boxes (e.g. Ipsy, Birchbox or the Sephora Play box), these are a great way to stock up on travel-size products. For this trip, I brought mini moisturizers, cleansers, serum, shampoo and conditioner and felt right at home!
  • There are several travel-friendly items I love to bring, such as dry all-in-one makeup remover wipes that lather with water. I like these Daily Facial Wipes from Olay. I also like to bring Tide To-Go Wipes, safety pins, and pretty much anything that can help prevent a wardrobe malfunction. I have made a little travel emergency kit with Bandaids and all of the above so I'm always prepared!
  • On this trip, I had a small makeup bag that I brought in my carry-on (just in case the airline lost my luggage) with my must-have products that I could survive with for the entire trip. I brought a few extra non-essential makeup and toiletries in my checked bag as well.
    • I have learned this lesson a few times, but store any toiletries you are bringing in a big Ziplock bag. It can prevent any mid-flight explosions from ruining your clothes.
  • I always bring my Wet Brush. I can't live without it. I also brought a hair straightener and just used the blow dryer in the hotel room.

Conference Extras

  • Business cards and business card holder
  • Portfolio with notepad and pens (my conference actually provided us a notebook, but they don't always)
  • Work laptop and charger
  • Portable phone battery/charger (for long days away from the hotel room)
  • Smaller purse for evening activities
  • Cash for tipping hotel staff and taxi drivers

Other than your big suitcase full of stuff (half of which will remain untouched), all you need is an open mind and a little courage. Cheesy I know, but attending a conference on your own can be super intimidating! 

Even if you are nervous, it is important to put yourself out there, strike up conversations and meet new people. You never know what conversation will make a connection and lead to future opportunities!
👠

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