What should I put on my conference packing list?

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Answered by: Christine, An Expert in the What to Pack Category
It's your first business conference. You've got your plane tickets and hotel reservations, and you're ready to save all your receipts as you make your way through the show floor and receptions. But you're wondering what to pack, and for that, you'll need a conference packing list. Here are a few key items to tuck in your carry-on, besides the obvious.

Business cards. Business cards go without saying; you'll want to fill up your business card holder and stick a big handful in a Ziplock bag. Tuck the bag into your suitcase so that you can refill your business card holder as you hand them out.

Pen and notebook. Most likely, you're bringing a laptop or tablet to check email and take notes. However, if your laptop or tablet dies, you'll want to have a more old-school way of keeping track of the people you meet. If you throw in a glue stick, you can glue in business cards as you meet people and write notes next to the cards.

Comfortable shoes. Men are lucky in this regard; a lot of men's business and business casual shoes (like Skechers) are comfortable enough to roam even the largest trade show floors and stand for hours. For women, flats are probably the best bet. Look for flats with some support and cushioning. Otherwise, choose a pump with a heel no higher than two inches - and a sturdy, thick heel at that.

Breath mints. Coffee abounds at conferences, and you'll be drinking a lot just because it's there. Unfortunately, coffee means coffee breath. Chew on a good, strong mint, like an Altoid, after each cup.

A refillable water bottle. Not only can you use a refillable water bottle at the airport to save on overpriced bottled water, you can also fill up your water bottle at the bubblers in the conference center.

Hand sanitizer or wipes. Shaking hands, using the restroom, touching the remote in your hotel room - all of these are great ways to pick up a variety of germs. Stay healthy by using hand sanitizer or wipes to clean off surfaces in your room and keep your hands germ-free.

Your phone charger. You will be using your smartphone a great deal: to take pictures of people's badges when they don't have business cards, to snap photos of presentation slides, and to text your colleagues to set meet-up times. Charging stations are never a given, so bring along a spare phone charger that you can plug into a wall outlet during breakout sessions.

A good book. No conference packing list is complete without a good book. Whether you download it to an e-reader or carry an old-fashioned paper book, you'll be happy you have it when your flight is inevitably delayed or when you can't sleep from all the excitement of the conference.

Of course, when you're packing for your conference, make sure you check the weather for your destination, as well as the dress code. Some conferences will be business casual, while others call for business professional dress. Remember that this is a great opportunity to learn and network, so relax, keep an open mind, and enjoy yourself a little, too.

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