Friday, February 23, 2024

Don’t Forget These 7 Unusual Must-Pack Items for Your Next Writing Conference

by Lori Hatcher 

Conference season has begun! Ever wish you could peer over your favorite writing professional’s shoulder as he or she packs their suitcase for a conference? Wish no more. 

Since stalking is illegal, I surveyed a few conference veterans to compile a collection of “Must-Pack Items.” You won’t see these on the usual list. You may not even realize you need them, but, trust me, you’ll be glad you packed them. 

7 Unusual Must-Pack Items You Might Not Think Of

I can’t count how many times I’ve gone to charge my phone (which I uses as my clock and alarm) and my watch beside the bed in a hotel and discovered only one outlet. And one plug is always occupied by a lamp cord. To charge everything, I have to plug my devices into the next-closest outlet halfway across the room. Not helpful when I want to check the time in the middle of the night. My handy dandy power strip with extension cord provides eight outlets, four USB charging ports (think phone and watch), and a five-foot extension cord. Plenty of space and power to supply everything I need.

Conferences are notoriously cold, but who wants to lug around a coat or jacket? Years ago, I discovered pashminas—soft, cozy, elegant wraps that come in a variety of colors. They fold flat or roll up to tuck into a carryon or backpack. Choose navy or black to match every outfit, and you’ll never be cold again.

Whether you use it to make friends, sweeten up agents and editors, or thank your instructors, premium chocolate is a must-pack for every conference. And if the conference isn’t going well? Unwrap one (or more) of these golden beauties for comfort and consolation.

No matter how long the conference lasts, you’ll be bringing back dirty clothes. I prefer to keep my clean clothes separate from my dirty ones in my suitcase. A lightweight laundry bag does the trick. And when I return home? No sorting or separating. I grab the bag and drop it in the laundry room.

I love this toothbrush cover. Not only does it keep my toothbrush dry and clean, it has a suction cup that sticks to the bathroom mirror. When I dash back to the room for a quick freshen up between appointments, I don’t have to fumble through my makeup case to find my toothbrush.

I hate to say this, but even the best roommates snore sometimes. I mean, we’re tired after a long day of learning and networking. But if your roommate is snoring, you’re not sleeping, unless you tucked a super-comfortable pair of silicone ear plugs into your suitcase. I’ve only had to use mine once, but boy, was I glad I had ‘em. 

True confession time. I don’t know how many times I’ve left my backpack or rolling suitcase behind in a classroom, dining hall, or auditorium. I start talking with a new writing friend and off I go, leaving my possessions behind. One Christmas, my kids gave me an Apple AirTag to keep track of my suitcase when I travel. After I arrive at a conference, I transfer it to my backpack or rolling suitcase and never again wonder where I left my stuff. About the size of a quarter, this little lifesaver pairs with my Apple phone or watch and tells me exactly where my bag is. Best $24 you’ll ever spend. And for four dollars more, you can buy a clipcase to attach it to the inside of your bag for safekeeping.
As you prepare to gather with writing friends, meet with industry professionals, and polish your craft, be sure to pack smart. With a little thought and preparation, you’ll have everything you need to experience the best conference ever.


Lori Hatcher loves to inspire and equip others by sharing high-impact stories for spiritual transformation. A popular women’s ministry speaker and writing/speaking instructor, Lori is an Advanced Communicator Gold and Advanced Leader Bronze with Toastmasters International. She writes for Our Daily Bread, Guideposts, Revive Our Hearts, and Check out her latest devotional, A WORD FOR YOUR DAY: 66 DEVOTIONS TO REFRESH YOUR MIND, from Our Daily Bread Publishing. Connect with her at LORIHATCHER.COM or on FACEBOOK.


  1. All great ideas. Very practical and useful article, Lori. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. You’re most welcome, Jim. I pray your next conference is trouble-free!

  2. I love these ideas, Lori. Things we all need. I love the power strip!

    1. You don’t know how many times that little gem has saved me, Anne. See you at the next conference!

  3. Lori, great ideas! I’d like to add to that list portable plugin LED nightlights. They come in a pack of two. One goes in my toiletry bag for the bathroom and the other one goes in with my chargers for that extension cord you mentioned. It has a USB plug in the end of it so you can plug something right into the light!

    1. What a brilliant (and simple) idea. I hate feeling my way through a hotel room to the bathroom when a simple night light would do the trick. I’m packing it now!

  4. Replies
    1. You’re most welcome, Kay. See you at the next conference. I’ll be the one wearing the super cozy pashmina ;)

  5. These are great suggestions, Lori! I'll add one: If you're partial to a certain brand of cola and drink it regularly (especially if it's your form of morning caffeine), bring some to keep in your room. Then if you find yourself at a conference site that only has the other brand, you don't have to switch or go without. ;-)

  6. Terrific tips! I didn't even know of such a thing — suction cup toothbrush holder? Gotta get one! Not sure about the wrap. Love your new book!