Packing for the RWA conference in Dallas is going to be a fairly involved process for me this year because in addition to needing four days' worth of "business casual" and two fancy evening outfits, I'll need more than a week's worth of vacation clothes. (My hunk o' burnin' love is planning to meet me in Dallas at the end of the conference; we'll spend that next week in Texas visiting relatives and doing book research.) So I'll be dragging two suitcases this year.
Good thing I have a foolproof method for packing without overpacking and without forgetting a single thing. Here it is:
1. Pack the night before your trip. I'll explain in a minute why that's such a good idea.
2. Think about what you'll need that first night at the hotel. Put your jammies and other stuff in a pile on your bed. Now go over your nighttime rituals and add whatever toiletries and other things you'll use.
3. Think about the morning of your first day. Put the toiletries and makeup you'll need in a pile on your bed. Now consider your schedule and choose an outfit for that day. Put it on the bed along with the shoes, unmentionables, and jewelry you'll wear with it. If there's a party that night, the next pile on your bed will be party clothes (including shoes, jewelry, and evening bag).
4. Mentally walk through the rest of your week and make piles for each day and evening. Next, make a pile of emergency clothes: a light sweater, a go-with-everything shirt in case you spill coffee on one of the others, a pair of comfy jeans, etc.
5. Now make a pile Other Stuff: business cards and promotional items, a charger for your cell phone, a plastic trash bag for soiled clothes, a box of granola bars for midnight snacking in your hotel room, etc. Again, try to think through one day, one event, at a time. Will you want a camera for Wednesday's book-signing? A notebook to take to the workshops? A swimsuit or workout clothes? Put all of those things on your bed.
6. Time to drag out your suitcase. Put your shoes aside for a moment and pack all of your outfits in the order you'll wear them. Next, put all of your toiletries and makeup into one small bag. Put your jewelry into another small bag. (I have cute little bags for just those purposes, but Ziploc Freezer Bags are lighter and less bulky and you can see at a glance what's in 'em, so you might want to use those.) Now tuck in your shoes and everything else and close the suitcase. You're packed!
7. On the morning of your travel day, you should find that everything you need for showering, doing your hair, and applying makeup is in your travel bag. That's good. Just as though you were in the hotel, use things right out of your bag and then put them back.
Congratulations. You have just done a run-through of tomorrow morning's get-up-and-get-dressed routine and you haven't forgotten to pack a single thing!