Thursday, September 13, 2012

Travel Tips

Which carryon tote is best?
By Debby Giusti

In less than a week, I’ll be flying to Dallas for the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference.  With keynote speaker Michael Hyatt and early bird presenter Nancy Kress, this year’s conference should be packed with great inspiration and information. 

Many Seekers and Seekervillagers plan to attend, and seeing everyone will be the highlight of the week.  Most evenings, we’ll gather in the hotel lobby/common area to recap the day's events. Follow the laughter and you’ll be sure to find us.  Remember we’re all family so don’t hole up in your room. Instead join in the Seekerville fun.

You’ve never flown? You’ve never been to a conference? You don’t know what to expect or what to pack or what to wear?  Today’s blog is for you.  Ask questions, voice your concerns, offer advice, and we’ll all be better prepared for this year’s conference.

Two years ago, I posted a blog on “Packing Tips—Seeker Style.”  I’ve included a few points from that article in the blog today, but refer back to that 2010 post for additional information.

Now grab a cup of coffee and let’s talk about the upcoming conference.

Here are some of my tips:

Ensure you have plenty of $1 bills so you can say thank-you to the many service workers who make your stay more pleasant.  Curbside check-in at the airport?  The going rate is $2 per checked bag.  The shuttle driver who whisks you from the airport to the hotel gets a tip as well.  The bell boy who carts your luggage to your room, the housekeeping staff who answer your requests for more coffee packets or the maid who cleans your room—all of them deserve to be thanked. 

Research how you will travel to and from the airport ahead of time.  Often shuttle services require advance reservations and cash payment.  Save some dollars to tip those who help you on your trip home and cash on hand for your shuttle or taxi ride back to the airport.

Carry Wet Wipes in your purse for quick clean ups.  I often find crumbs from the previous passenger’s meal on the fold-down airplane tray. Call me a germaphobe, but I wipe the tray as soon as I board.

Tie a bright ribbon around your luggage handle to quickly identify your bag in the crowd of suitcases that often look alike.

Prior to going through security, take off all jewelry and belts and store them in your carryon tote.  Before being scanned, you’ll need to remove your shoes. If you’re wearing sandals, take socks to slip on so your feet stay clean.  Thousands of passengers pass through security each day…athlete’s foot…you get the idea, right?

After going through security, buy a bottle of water so you’ll have something to drink in case of long delays on the tarmac.
Be sure to check your airline’s suitcase weight requirements, and weigh your luggage at home so you can shift heavy items into a second bag if you’re over the maximum weight allowance.  Hotel fitness centers often have a scale that you can use to weigh your luggage for the return flight.

I usually fly Delta, which has a 50 lb. maximum for each checked bag. To keep my larger suitcase underweight, I pack heavy items, such as promotional products and books, in my carryon.

A word of caution: A few years ago, my roommate packed powered Coffee-mate in a plastic baggie. TSA opened her suitcase and sliced through the baggie. Coffee-mate spilled all over her clothes. What a mess! To keep agents from wondering about any white powder I might be carrying, I try to keep dry products, such as sweeteners or Coffee-mate, in their original containers.

To lower the odds of having TSA rummage through my suitcase, I pack electrical cords, battery chargers, umbrellas and curling irons—items that could look suspicious when scanned--in my carryon bag. Going through security, I place those types of items in a plastic bin to be screened separately.

I use TSA approved locks to keep my suitcases from opening en route.  They can be purchased anywhere luggage is sold. The agents have a master key so they can check the luggage, but the locks keep the cases secure during the flight.

Now that airlines charge for checked luggage, most folks travel with carryon bags. The overhead bins fill quickly so board as soon as possible to ensure you can find space for your bag.

When I traveled to RWA this summer, I paid the extra $25 and checked a second bag filled with my promotional items. It would have been heavy to lift into the overhead compartment if I had taken it on board. Plus, I wanted to use my briefcase on wheels, which was my main carryon.  In spite of the extra charge, I found the trip less stressful because I didn’t have to haul the heavy bag around the airport and to and from my gate.

Some folks mail items to the hotel and have them held until their arrival. Be sure to check the fees first. The RWA hotel charged $50 a day for each box held for incoming guests. One woman, flying internationally, mailed boxes that arrived earlier than expected, and she ended up with a $1000 holding fee.

If you enjoy listening to music, take your own earphones so you can tune into the airplane’s sound system immediately upon boarding.

Grab an airline blanket when you board.  They can be used as lap blankets if the temperature drops or used as a lumbar roll to ease back strain.

Wear layers.  Some airplanes can be extremely cold; others—especially while waiting for takeoff—can be the exact opposite.  Layering is an easy way to help regulate your body temperature.

Food on board flights—even cross-country flights—is limited.  Fix a sandwich or snack at home or grab a pre-made meal at the airport before your board.  Remember liquids must be purchased after you pass through security.  Even if the airline sells sandwiches and snacks during the flight, the supply often runs low.  I’m not sure about other airlines, but Delta will not accept cash so have your credit card handy.

I pulled a muscle at a conference a number of years ago and now pack muscle relaxers, just in case. Extra reading glasses and a second pair of contacts are a must as well as a night reading light that could double as a flashlight in case of emergency.
Pam Hillman’s an organized traveler who provided the following tips.
“I have a small toiletries bag in my purse for Band-Aids, ibuprofen, peppermint, gum, lotion, clippers, etc. When I travel, I make sure the bag is stocked (esp. the ibuprofen) and transfer it to my carryon luggage. That way I have all those little essentials I need on the plane.”

She suggests minimizing the number of items you have to lug through the airport. “I have ONE bag. PERIOD,” says Pam. “I don't even carry a purse. I have a rolling backpack that I got at Walmart for about $30.00. It holds my laptop and everything else I need. I'm not concerned about an extra set of clothes. If my luggage is lost, I'll make do until I can pick up an outfit.”

Pam also suggests wearing a blouse or top with a front pocket for your ID and ticket. “Until you're safely through check-in,” she says, “keep your important documents in that pocket. When you no longer need your ID, STOP and put it BACK in your wallet/purse immediately. You will thank yourself later.”

Another great tip from Pam: “Use your smart phone to take pictures of your hotel room number, the street your hotel is on, etc. If you drive to the airport, leave your airport parking ticket on the visor of your car. Place your car keys in a safe, zippered location in your carryon bag or purse. Oh, and as you walk away from your car in the airport, snap a picture of the parking lot section you're in. Just sayin'.”
Pam plans to buy a lot of books at the conference and will pack a USPS Flat-rate box and a tape gun in her suitcase so she can mail her purchases home.
Missy recommends packing clothing in plastic compression bags. “I always pack a huge amount for each conference and will do anything to squeeze it all in! I usually use three of these bags. Plus, I like the idea that if my luggage gets checked by the TSA, all my stuff won't fall out or get wrinkled.”

She adds, “Pack a black skirt and one or two pairs of black pants. Then just switch out tops and take one black cardigan sweater.” (Missy, if that’s all you’re taking, why the need for the compression bags?  <grin>)

Janet Dean and her hubby often drive to conferences. “When we’re taking a long trip with lots of luggage and changing motels every night, we try to pack the small suitcases with the things we need for that night and the next morning,” she says. “That way we don’t have to haul all the luggage inside unless we’re staying for several days. We try to pack our clothes in order, with things we’ll wear later in the trip on the bottom. I’ve used the large zip lock plastic bags to coordinate outfits and minimize wrinkles. We put shoes, daub kit and cosmetic bag in plastic bags to protect our clothes. I keep items in my make-up bag all the time, even soap, lotion and shampoo since I’m sensitive to fragrances. Thankfully most motels/hotels use unscented detergent. We stockpile dollar bills and coins to tip maids and pay tolls. We take a small cooler for water/pop and a stash of snacks in the car. We also take a Garmin, charger cords and camera batteries, OTC and prescription meds, band aids, antibiotic ointment and doctor’s phone numbers. No matter how hard I try, I usually forget something.” 

Mary Connealy says, “I never ever check the bag with my computer in it. Instead I ALWAYS keep it with me to avoid damage and to have it close in case there's a chance to write. I stick two or three copies of my books in my computer bag, and if the opportunity arises, I give them to people I meet or seatmates on a plane. I also keep a stack of bookmarks in a pocket of my purse and some Seekerville pens to 'share.' I try not to be obnoxious about the marketing with people trapped beside me, I swear.”

She adds, “I always carry my Kindle, phone and computer charger cords in my computer bag so if I'm stuck in an airport I can keep working or phoning or reading. I usually carry a book with me that I SHOULD read but don't particularly WANT to read, because being trapped on an airplane will force you to open that book.”

Myra Johnson suggests packing an extra pair of comfortable shoes. “After a day of hiking the corridors of a huge hotel, your feet will thank you. Plan ahead what you will (most likely) wear each day and evening of the conference, along with an extra outfit or two just in case. Try everything on before you pack to double-check fit, look for missing buttons, etc., and make sure you have all the parts of the outfit you'll need, including accessories. Throw in a shawl or light sweater in case meeting rooms are chilly.”

In addition, Myra says, “Print out all important e-mail correspondence you received prior to the conference, including your registration info, hotel confirmation, prescheduled appointments, etc., and place them in a folder or notebook to take with you. Include a list of friends' cell phone numbers.”

Cara Lynn James always brings her health insurance cards just in case. A list of prescription drugs and the dosage is also a good idea as well as an emergency point of contact.

Say goodbye to ironing with Glynna Kaye’s packing tip. “I've been doing this Ziploc thing ever since I took a trip to Britain ages ago,” Glynna says. “I get varying sizes of bags--quart, gallon, 2 1/2 gallon. Then I neatly fold each item and put them in separate Ziploc. I've found it really does work.” The bags slide against each other in transit so the fabrics don’t get pulled or wadded up.

For fabrics that are easily wrinkled, Glynna folds the garment around a Ziploc bag and offers the following instructions. “I place a blouse face down on the bed and then lay an appropriately sized Ziploc bag on top of the back of the main body of the garment, below the shoulders and above the hem. I fold the sides in toward the middle of the garment first and then the sleeves. Finally, I fold the bottom up. That way the front of the garment isn't rubbing against the back.” And for quick cleans ups for her wrinkle-free clothing, Glynna packs a Tide To Go stick.

Lots of great advice from all the Seekers. Now, I’m eager to learn your travel tips.  Leave a comment to be included in a drawing for one of my books, winner’s choice.

Grab a cup of coffee and some breakfast – scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and grits—and let’s swap ideas on how to make conference travel easy peasy!

Can’t wait to see you in Dallas.  Hugs and love to those not attending this year.  We’ll bring back lots of great info to share.

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

THE COLONEL'S DAUGHTER available in print or e-book.  Click here to order your copy.

If you’re going to ACFW, check out our Seekerville Silent Auction Donation--a beautiful writing secretary handcrafted by Gary Harders.  Thank you, Gary, for providing such a wonderful gift for a lucky ACFW winner.  Proceeds from the silent auction fund scholarships for next year’s conference.


  1. Great tips, Debby. Seems like we just unpacked from RWA, lol.

  2. Y'all have a great time there. When I travel, I try to have only carry-ons. However, this means I can't bring razors. Unfortunately, disposables razors that you pick up from a hotel concierge usually cut one's face more than they cut one's beard.

  3. Thanks for all the great tips. I picked up some new ones I'll be using when I pack for the ACFW conference.

    I'm looking forward to seeing lots of Seekers and Seekervillagers. =)

  4. These tips should come in handy Monday--packing day!

    The coffee bar is ready.


  5. First - those shoes don't look comfy.

    Second - packing commences Saturday most likely.

    Third - the bookstore is offering flat rate boxes again this year :D. Pay the flat rate at the bookstore and they'll take care of shipping them! Easy peasy!

  6. Okay.

    I'll be honest.

    Packing has already started.

    Mostly, throwing stuff into my suitcase so I know where it is - stuff I don't plan to use again [cute hair stuff bought just for this, heels I wear about three time a year, etc].

    Serious packing will commence Saturday.

  7. I don't do checked luggage. I just don't take that much stuff.

    I bought a nice carry-on bag at the maximum size for all airlines, and this holds all my clothes and a spare pair of shoes.

    I also carry a backpack that contains my laptop, purse (wallet with a shoulder strap), small camera, Kindle and/or books, my "liquids" ziploc, and anything else that may need to be viewed by TSA. That way I don't have to open the carry-on going through security.

    Slip-off shoes are best for security, even though I prefer lace-ups for comfort.

    The carry-on goes in the overhead bin (yes, I try to board as soon as I can to make sure I secure that spot!) and the backpack fits under the seat.

    I'm not a super-experienced traveler. It's mostly limited to the past few conferences and one other recent trip, but this is my system and it works for me.

  8. Oh, going through security, send your least valuable stuff they want to see first, like your ziploc and jacket and shoes. Your laptop should go in the last bin, so you don't take your eyes off it for any longer than necessary.

  9. One suggestion is leave an itinerary at home with someone so they know where to reach you incase of an emergency.
    Here we don't pay for the luggage yet unless its excess. Will need to keep that in mind for next year.
    My motto is if in doubt leave it out.

  10. Walt, just tell everybody the stubble is a fashion statement!

    An all these tips make my head spin. I know some day I will emerge from this cave, but at the moment, I'm rather glad it's not now.

    So much to remember, so much to cram in.

    An loved the idea of snapping pics on the phone of streets and car parking spot. I wondered why I'd never thought of that before!

    And then remembered the last time I'd flown anywhere was back before I had a cell phone. WOW!

  11. Great tips, I'm always looking for ideas to make traveling easier. I always look for wheels on anything I carry on, sometimes you have quite a hike through the airport and a shoulder bag can really get heavy.
    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

  12. Hi Lyndee!

    I feel the same way about just unpacking from RWA.

    Like Janet, I keep my make-up bag stocked with small creams and soap and hair products so it's always ready to go. If only the rest of the packing would be that easy.

  13. Walt, so what's the answer? An electric razor perhaps?

    Will you be at M&M? No flights to take, no security to go through, and no weight restrictions...much easier! There's something to say for driving to a conference. :)

  14. Keli, so glad you'll be at ACFW!

    Any travel tips you want to share?

  15. Thanks for the coffee, Helen. I'm sipping my first cup.

    Packing on Monday? You'll be ahead of schedule. Good for you! Are you driving or flying?

  16. Carol, thanks for the info about shipping through the bookstore. Jana is wonderful and always thinks of her customers!

  17. The shuttle from the Dallas airport to the hotel is supposed to be free this year. Grapevine, TX, is close and another shuttle ride away, which should be a fun place to visit.

  18. I'm impressed, Valerie. One carryon and a backpack. Good for you. I wish I could be an organized and compact!

    Great tip about holding your valuables until last on the security conveyor belt. I try to keep my eyes on my purse and laptop at all times, but it's a worry, especially if I'm held up in the body scanner.

  19. If in doubt, leave it out! Ausjenny, I love your motto.

    Usually I'm just the opposite. If in doubt, stick it in. :)

    No wonder I take too much!!!

  20. Virginia,

    I like Pam's photo tip too. The way technology moves forward no telling what travel tips we'll be sharing in the future!

    Enjoy your week with family! We'll miss you!

  21. Wheels are wonderful, aren't they, Merry!

    I bought the newer lightweight luggage a couple years ago--with wheels, of course. My daughter bought hers at the same time. One of her wheels has already fallen off, and she travels less than I do. Not sure how long my bags will hold up, but they weigh less and that helps me stay under the weight allowance.


    I should have mentioned that I strap my carryon to my larger bag and place my computer case on top as I walk from baggage claim to the shuttle, and then into the hotel. I feel like a choo-choo train and turning around inside elevators can be tricky, but it allows me to keep one hand free to hold my purse!

  23. Chargers for electronics seem to be multiplying, don't they?

    Great tips for next year when the rest of us might get to conference, Debby!

    So TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS, EVERYONE, and don't be afraid to share!

  24. Debra,
    What great tips! I'll have to keep those in mind next time I travel.
    I hope you have a safe trip.

  25. We will share photos, Deb!

    If only someone would create a universal charger. Wouldn't that be nice!

  26. Hi Amy!

    Yes, prayers for everyone's safe travel.

  27. Thanks for all the great tips, Debby!

    It's been years since I've flown. I just ordered another pair of contacts two days ago. So there's one thing I can check off your list.

    I can't believe it, but this time next week I'll be on a plane to my first writers' conference!!!

    Valerie, I'm impressed! I spent so many years packing light traveling with our son to tennis matches, but I always wished I'd had something. Since this is my first writer trip, I don't want to be practical, I want to be prepared.

    One note to add, as a pharmacist I've discovered people often get upset stomachs traveling, so you might throw in something for that.
    AND if you're unsure about your OTCs, don't hesitate to ask me. I'll try to help!

    I can't wait to meet you all!

    Jackie L.

  28. Great Tips, Debbie! And another thing I've been doing for years and years is that I keep a standard packing checklist on my computer that I created in Word. I print it everytime I travel, whether on business or pleasure. As I pack (usually I start a few days before I leave), I CHECK OFF each item as it goes into the suitcase. THEN on the day of travel, right before I lock up the suitcase, I go over the list and LINE OUT each item to ensure it wasn't something I used that morning and forgot to put back in the suitcase!

  29. I mean DEBBY! Arrgh. It's 4:25 here in the West.

  30. Jackie,
    So excited you'll be at ACFW!!! Thanks for mentioning tummy problems.

    You wrote: I don't want to be practical, I want to be prepared.

    Love it! That's how I feel. No wonder my suitcase is always bulging.

  31. Morning, Glynna!

    Get some coffee. Four-twenty-five and you're already visiting Seekerville. That's dedication! :)

    You are so organized with your packing list, Glynna. Pam uses a spread sheet.

    Maybe I need to make a list. :)

  32. I have a bigger-than-usual spiral notebook, college ruled with three columns of stuff to pack. I should make a master list on my computer to print off.

    This includes like everything including phone/camera/mp3 chargers, bobby pins, makeup, clothes, etc.

    I did however realize that while I am taking my contacts/case/solution, I am apparently not bringing my glasses or their case. /roll eyes/

  33. Oh, WOW, Deb ... everybody needs to print this baby off for ANY trip whatsoever!! EXCELLENT advice, my friend, and gosh ... I just wish I could use it this year to go to ACFW ... :(

    Well, there's always Indy ...


  34. Oh, thanks for the great tips, Debby!

    I don't travel often, but when I do I travel light. I like Valerie's 2-bag system.

    Of course, if you think I'm wearing the same clothes three days in a row, you may be right...

    Saturday is "gather everything together to pack" day, and Monday is packing day for me. Tuesday is the day to stick in the stuff I forgot to pack, and I'm flying out Wednesday morning.

    I'm looking so forward to meeting everyone who's there! But I remember how lonely it felt last year when I had to stay home. Seekerville was the place to be that week :)

  35. Wow, great tips! I wish I had some Seeker pens to give out on my trip. I guess I can shower people with bookmarks instead.

    Dallas, here we come!


    Oh, and that tape gun? Debby, you aren't too far off the mark. A couple of years ago, I DID have to bring a tape gun home with me.

    I had a bunch of ACFW office stuff to bring home plus books I'd bought. We packed the entire office up to ship to its location, but I knew I had to be able to tape MY boxes in my room, so I had to keep a tape gun out. When I was done, the tape gun had to go in my suitcase. (I now have a tiny, little roll of packing tape and dispenser...if I can find it!)

    And, last year, Allison Wilson and I packed everything in the office down to the last box, then we were in a quandary. We had the box, its contents, and the tape gun....hmmm...

    We rolled off enough tape strips to tape up the box, then put the tape gun inside, and finished the job.

    All neat and tidy. lol

  36. Debby -- The list I created is in a Word table, 6 colomns across and about 48 rows. The first, third and fifth columns are very narrow to "check" -- two, four and six wider. Then I group everything in packing "order" -- such as all the make-up/personal care items that I plan to put in my carry-on or purse grouped together. Then everything I'll be putting in a suitcase grouped together. And within those I have smaller SUB-groups of "like items," such as one that includes credit card, ATM card, driver's license, insurance card, medical emergency info, pocket calculator, etc., or one with pens, small spiral notebook, registration/hotel documents,etc. It makes it easier to check things off and keep track of it all if they're in subgroups so you're not so likely to skip something as you would be with a willy nilly list.

  37. I'd like to get the bulk of mine done Saturday, so I don't have to do it on Sunday, but I never get it done that early, but there's always a first time...

  38. Amazing tips!!!! Will be using all of them!! The flying advice was invaluable as I’ve never flown before.

    CAN’T WAIT to see you all in Dallas and party with the Seekers!!!!!

  39. Fabulous advice, everyone! I can't make it to ACFW (sniff) but am saving this list for next year's RWA conference in Atlanta :)

  40. Glynna, we are twins separated at birth! lol My spreadsheet is almost EXACTLY like yours! lol

    Only 48 rows, though? You must be the younger, more adventurous sister.... lol

  41. Great tips Debby,

    I really like the tip to make sure of hotel addresses etc. before you hop in the taxi cab. LOL

    Debby's a great traveler. We had so much fun at RWA. I'm going to miss all of you. Sandra who is trying not to cry.

  42. Walt, I so know what you mean about those razors. And the toothbrushes they provide are rather pitiful also.

    So don't forget your own.

    And Myra has a point. Often hotel shampoos, lotions, etc are scented.

  43. Pam -- that's 48 rows TIMES THREE item-columns!

  44. These are great travel tips.

    MARY CONNEALY, I'll sit next to you, then I'd have to accept one of your books. :O)

    I'm running today, but a couple of tips I offer (that hopefully haven't already been mentioned) are 1) Take prescription meds in my purse. If my luggage is lost, I still have my meds. 2) I have a list on my computer of everything I generally take on trips. Before packing, I look at it add/subtract for this particular trip and pack. Having a list usually cuts down of forgetting things.

    Looking forward to meeting some of you next week! Off to get the kids to school and work on writing stuff for ACFW. :) Oh, yes, and get a pedicure. :)

  45. Jeanne - giving myself one on Tuesday ;). After making cookies most likely :D.

    Something Robin mentioned on the newbie loop this year - apparently, maid tipping is up to about $5/person per day. I know we didn't do anywhere near that much last year... Out of ignorance...

  46. I have a few times ended up really have a great time talking with someone I gave a book. Once the lady was on the board of a big library system, like Atlanta or Nashville, somewhere like that. She loved it and talked about seeing if my books were in her system.
    I don't push. In fact my usual mode is to not violate a seat neighbor's space in any way, physically, verbally...ahem, fragrently.

    But if we talk AND it leads to the right place, I do hand over a book or a book mark.

  47. Right now I've got a suitcase packed already full of promotional items. It's a ridiculous amount but wait'll you see the cute things Seekerville has in store for you on the Give-Away table.
    I've got a few Mary Connealy things too.

  48. love these traveling tips...wish i was going w/ all of you :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  49. AND HERE IS MY RULE!!!!! (this has really helped me let go of nervousness! Which I have an abundance of before travel)
    It is my MASTERCARD rule.
    When I review what I'm taking I ask myself, "Am I forgetting anything I can't fix with a credit card."

    This boils down to...ID, Credit Card, cell phone.
    That's about it.
    (well, this stack of promo items can't be replaced, which is why I'm packing them ahead)
    But once I sort of SETTLED on that MASTERCARD mentality, I quit worrying about forgetting things. I think I had to finally just BREAK with worry the year I had all my blouses, carefully selected to go with the different outfits, neatly waiting to be packed at the last minute so they wouldn't wrinkle THEN I FORGOT THEM AT HOME. Every single outfit was ruined. Worse yet, I'd worn a red sweater on the plane. RED?????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? It went with NOTHING. So, I wore the same pair of black slacks and that blasted red sweater then whole conference and you know what? No one seemed to notice. It helped me get over myself and calm down.

  50. Pammy you'll have pens for the trip home. I'm bringing everyone a nice supply of their very own. :)

  51. Mary, when did you realize you had forgotten your blouses? Half-way to the airport? On the plane when it was taxi-ing down the runway? When you got to the hotel and opened your bag?

    I can just imagine the disbelief, the anger, and then finally the "well, a woman's gotta wear what a woman's gotta wear".

    I wish I had been there ;D

    And I'll never look at a red sweater the same way again...

  52. If I'm to follow all those tips, I'll have to become a much more organized person.

    Perhaps I'll learn that while I'm waiting on God to get me there.

    I hope everyone has an amazing time!

  53. All these great tips and no place to go. Well...not for me anyway.

    I'm with Julie. Maybe Indy.

    Everyone have fun and take lots and lots of pictures.

  54. Debby--Hi--Great tips. I can't go to ACFW this year--you all have fun! I know you will. And I'm going to show the post to my family who think I'm crazy for carrying socks with me to the airport to put on when I have to take my sandals off. I DON'T want to walk on that floor. If you look around, there are so many barefoot people traipsing along that floor. And Missy ALWAYS wears something on her feet in the room. And she's got me doing that as well.

    Again, great tips!!

  55. Carol...
    So did you add glasses/case to your lengthy list?

    I just picked up my extra pair of contacts. Thank you, Jackie, for the reminder.

  56. Oh, Julie! Reality check for me. I keep "seeing" you with us in Dallas.

    In spirit, right?

  57. Jan, you and Valerie are amazing! Perhaps you should give me packing lessons.

    I had a friend who had worked as a flight attendant. Her one carryon bag was always so neatly packed and held more than I ever expected. It's a talent I don't have.

  58. Pam, you're always the last one at the conference. Thanks for all your hard work! We can enjoy the event because of the wonderful folks who make it happen. Hugs to you and all on the ACFW Conference Committee!

  59. Glynna,

    This could be turned into an ACFW workshop for next year. Grab Jan and Valerie for packing tips. Pam could join the group with her tape gun and shipping prowess!

    Bet the workshop would be a hit! :)

  60. Glad you can use some of the tips, Amanda!

    Looking forward to seeing you next week. Expect lots of hugs! :)

  61. Hi Mia!

    RWA will be in Atlanta next year! YES!!! I can take whatever I want since I won't have to fly! :)

  62. Pam and Glynna,

    I see a spread sheet competition brewing...

    We'll compare lists in Dallas. :)

  63. OH! MY!! This is so helpful.

    OH! MY! I am so behind.

    Leaving Wed.

    Packing ....Wed.

  64. Sandra....I'm still laughing about RWA.

    Should we let everyone in on the joke?

    Okay, I'll spill the beans.

    We told the cab driver at the airport to take us to the Marriott. Little did we know the Marriott had two hotels in the same general area.

    You guessed it! He dropped us off at the OTHER Marriott. We waited in line for check-in and chatted with a very nice gentleman who was checking out. When it was our turn, the hotel clerk told us we were at the WRONG hotel.

    The nice man had a rental car. He and his wife had time to kill before their flight took off so he drove us to the RIGHT Marriott. A very nice man who, no doubt, God put in our path. The Lord knew Sandra and I would need help! :)

    I'll miss you, Sandra, at ACFW!

    Sandra was so good...she swam each morning for exercise. I, on the other hand, stayed in bed! :)

  65. Jeanne T...

    Sounds like you're in the spread sheet packing list competition with Pan and Glynna.

    Can you beat 48 rows TIMES THREE item-columns? If so, you move ahead of Glynna.

    YES! YES! YES! Important meds packed in purse or carryon!

  66. Pedicures for Carol and Jeanne T. Be sure to check out their toes in Dallas!

  67. Eva, hold down the fort in Seekerville with Julie and Sandra.

    We'll post pics on the WE.

    At least, Tina will. I think. You will, won't you, Tina?

  68. Mary, I'm sure you never force your books on anyone! Besides, everyone loves your books. Lucky person sitting next to you.

    I always try to pull a "Connealy" and pack some of my books in my carryon. Usually the bag is so stuffed, I don't have room. Or I forget to hand them out, if I do have them with me.

    Note to self: Remember to tuck books into carryon. Remember to give away books en route.

  69. Mary mentioned the Give Away Table. Remember to check it often throughout the conference.

    I've ordered a new shipment of Writer's Prayers, which should arrive at my house tomorrow or Saturday. Pick up a copy of the prayer at the conference. Take a couple home for writer friends. :)

  70. Karen K...

    We'll miss you. Keep Julie and Sandra in line. Oh my gosh! Ruthy needs to be watched too.

    Hugs and love!

  71. Mary! Love your MasterCard strategy.

    Although sometimes hotels are not close to shopping areas.

    Grapevine, however, has lots of stores and is a quick shuttle ride from our ACFW hotel.

    It's all good.

  72. Jan, we should all wear red sweaters in Dallas in solidarity with Mary.

  73. No spread-sheet packing list, Andrea?

    Get in my line.

    Oh my gosh! Usually I'm a plotter, but with packing, I must be a pantser.

  74. Bridgett, Seekerville will continue so share the love here next week. We'll try to stop in from the conference and keep everyone up-to-date with what's happening.

  75. Lindi, we're in step when it comes to socks, especially when passing through security. :)

    We'll miss you at ACFW!!! Hope to see you at M&M just a few days later.


  76. Tina...

    You're not behind. You're organized and know what you want to pack.

    I'll pack on Tuesday. Wednesday morning, I'll probably take a number of things out of my suitcase. That seems to be my standard method. After a night's sleep, I always think of things I won't need.

  77. If I was going for a weekend I could do an overnight bag but then i need room for what I get at the other end.
    Going overseas I have learnt to pack less. I now will often take a sweatshirt or two that I am ready to part with knowing I will buy a couple or more overseas, same with tshirts. My friend landed a nice Aussie one. I left the sweatshirts with a friend to give to charity. I tend to pack for around 4 days knowing I will be able to use a washing machine somewhere that way I have room to buy things. I even had an older pair of runners last trip to Canada as I knew I was going to a farm area and bringing them back means having to have them scrubbed down etc. It was easier to leave them behind.

    I like Marys ideas you can buy at the other end.

    two tips if you are checking in luggage have a ribbon or something to help distinguish it from the other bags. (first trip to hawaii a lady I chatted to said she opened 4 bags before she found hers at the airport) and take a photo or two of your luggage so if it does happen to get lost (speaking from experience here) you have a photo to show what you it looks like. nothing worse than not being able to fully describe your bag. Also have a change of close in your carry on (even if its just underwear) Its no fun arriving at your destination in just what you are wearing and the shops are shut the next day cos of a public holiday and your luggage is at least 24 hours away. (my outfit was a dress and underwear)

  78. Tina, I feel the same way!

    Leaving Wed morning. Packing late Tues. night.

    This is the first time in awhile that I've flown to the conference, so I'm having to rethink all my packing. Driving simplifies everything. Just throw it all in the van!

  79. Debby:

    I'm doing laundry and packing Monday so I can drive to Springfield Tuesday. Will spend the night at my daughter's and meet Carol and the girls Wed. morning to drive to Dallas.

    I like not having to worry about the airline luggage limits/restrictions.


  80. Ausjenny,
    Thanks for the great international travel tips!

    Yes, taking older things that can be left and returning with newer purchases is a great idea.

    Also love the tip on taking a picture of your luggage!

    The four day rule is a keeper too.

    Your flight to the USA is so long. Any on-board-the-plane you walk the aisles, get up and stretch, try to sleep, or all of the above?

  81. Erica,
    I agree. Vans are a great way to travel, especially to conferences. When I drive, I never have to worry about what to take because I take it ALL! :)

  82. Helen,
    How many of you will be in the car? Did Carol assign seats? Are their luggage restrictions? Do you have to show your spread sheet before you can board. LOL!

    Will Carol share her cookies on the road?

    Speaking of Carol's cookies...have you baked today, Carol?

  83. Super-duper tips, Debby! I'll have to reread this post in a few days when I start packing!

    I hate packing to fly and really wanted to drive again this year, but Dallas is a wee bit too far. It would have meant two nights on the road going and coming, so would have made it a 10-day trip instead of 5.

    Which would have meant 5 extra days to pay the pet-sitter, and that's expensive enough as it is!

  84. Debby:

    There are to be six of us.

    It started out just Carol and me in her car. Then more riders were added and the decision to drive her van instead of the car.

    I told her what I would be bringing. Assume the rest did also.

    Haven't checked about the cookies. I'm sure they'll be in the van, but don't know if we'll be able to get our greedy little hands on them. :)

  85. Uh... no restrictions?! Helen you're scaring me!!!

    I do have a big back of the van [and deep too] but NO restrictions?!


    I haven't baked today. Tuesday is my baking day - maybe some on Monday - we'll see. Yes, they will be available in the car. ;)

    In order of addition to the trip it's:
    Ruth Tredway
    Tracey Bateman
    Julia Bartgis
    Cynthia Herron

    Should be a lot of fun! Just praying that, with six women... in one vehicle... we make it in a reasonable period of time ;).

  86. I haven't actually assigned seats, but one person needs to ride up front b/c of claustrophobia.

    Someone else /cough/ needs to ride up front sometimes /drive/ because of car sickness.

    Me? I'd be happy in the back with my Kindle, but I get to drive at least the first leg ;).

  87. Myra, flying will save you time and money. Is your plane stopping in Atlanta?

  88. Debby, I believe they are moving toward universal chargers -it would save a lot of plastic but surely companies will be losing income and that will never work!

    As for water bottles. It's best to buy AFTER you go through security because I've seen them confiscate water bottles, both opened and unopened.

    Who is going to do coffee while Helen is at conference?

  89. I bet the trip will be so much fun, Helen. How long will it take?

    You'll probably giggle the entire way. Make sure Carol focuses on the road, and save some cookies for Dallas. Pretty please!


  90. Prayers for safe travel, Carol!

    The trip there is never the problem. It's driving home after a conference. I'm always so tired.

  91. What a fun post! I want to be in that van with Carol and Helen! How fun would that be!

    Where are you ladies driving from? And how long of a trip is it? (Minus washroom stops!)

    Wishing everyone a fabulous time. I'll keep the staying home girls company!


  92. Deb, you had me worried about buying water after security. Yes, I had it right in the blog post. WHEW. Thought maybe I had mixed up "after" and "before." LOL

    I had a water bottle in my tote going through security on the way home from a conference and was pulled to the side for a thorough search. The TSA guy said I had contraband in my bag. I had forgotten about the water. Haven't made that mistake since.

  93. Good point about the coffee, Deb.

    Who volunteers to take over Helen's job next week?

  94. Susan, we all want to be in Carol's van! :)

    If Carol had invited us, we could have flown to her hometown and caught a ride from there. Right?

  95. Nope, no stops in Atlanta, Deb. I was able to get a direct flight both directions. Sure makes it easier!

  96. Pedicure--done. My toesies are so happy!

    Valerie and Jan, I'll warn you now, I'm a big suitcase plus rolling carry-on kind of gal. I try har to keep Bertha out of your way when we room together. I wonder how Melissa is? She's probably like you two. Sigh. :)

    DEBBY, I think Pam and Glynna have me beat. My list only goes two columns. Maybe that means I don't pack as many items? :)

  97. Oh, wow, sounds like a regular party van with Helen, Carol, and gang! Wouldn't I love to be a fly on that ceiling!

  98. According to a friend of mine who drives it regularly [Springfield, MO area - though ironically none of us are actually from Springfield...], it's about 3.5 hours to McAlester [where his parents live and our second scheduled stop]. I think he makes a quick stop. From McAlester to the Dallas airport area is 3-3.5 hours and we're planning one more stop in there.

    HOPING to be on the road no later than 9 [maybe even earlier - that would be really good] and into the airport no later than 430 or so to avoid the traffic.

    Of course, all of my roomies are flying in before noon. So they get to have fun together without me - but I get the party van ;).

    Now... if there's just enough room for the books on the way back...

    With 6 of us, can you imagine?!

  99. I'm the farthest from the group I think. I'm 3.5 hours from Springfield, which is why I'm going up a day early and staying overnight with my daughter. (Who teaches at the same school as Carol. Imagine that.)

  100. Glad you have a direct flight, Myra. So much easier and faster.

  101. Not too long of a trip. That's good, Carol.

    Lots of books on the way home, no doubt!

    Plus, you can talk about everything you learned in the workshops.

  102. Years ago, I lived in Kirksville, MO. To fly to see my parents in FL, I had to take a tiny, six-seat plane from Kirksville to Kansas City, where I boarded a plane to Dallas and then changed there for Orlando. With two little ones, the trip was always an adventure.

  103. Helen, how nice that you can see your daughter too. Small world, isn't it? Who would think she and Carol would teach at the same school!

  104. Jeanne T - Don't worry about your suitcase!

    It's the bathroom counter I worry about :)

    BTW, I'm bringing chocolate, but /shhh!/ don't tell anyone else!

    Maybe I'd better bring a couple more pounds...

  105. We don't teach at the same campus but are at the same school :).

    Her kids being here is why Helen hangs out with us :D.

    I think Tracey is about 45 minutes from our meeting spot, Ruth and Julia are 30, Cindy is a different 30 and I'm 20. But it's central, near the highway and a Panera so cinnamon crunch bagels can be consumed.

  106. So random question.

    For a friend.

    Of course.

    Space considerations aside...

    How many books are too many to bring to get authors to sign?

    A friend wants to know...

  107. Carol, did you just put the words "too many" and "books" in the same sentence?

  108. Debby, When I fly international you asked about a few things one being sleep what is that!!!!!!!!!!
    I dont sleep much on planes, trains or automobiles! Never have. I do get up and walk a little mainly to the toilet, but some walk way more, I do do they exercises you know flexing your ankles and turning them in circles etc. also I like and isle seat on the inside section on longer trips cos there are normally 3 seats and if the middle one needs to get out there are 2 options. being stuck on a window at night with a guy who fell asleep the moment the plane took of and woke up 8 hours later (on a 10 hour trip) was really annoying when I really wanted to use the rest room. Also when they offer water drink it. I got to Hawaii and that night I had really bad cramps in the calves because I hadn't had enough to drink.
    Now I have a kindle I will be better cos sometimes if you dont have your own tv set thingy to choose you get really dumb movies to watch.

    In Australia you can take your water with you on domestic flights. Small containers that is. Also we dont have to take shoes of unless they are the steel cap boots etc. sneakers are ok.

    I just saw flight to Dallas are cheaper for when i want to come next year so am going to see if I can by my ticket (one way) before the 18th. then I will have to come right! I want to fly back from Seattle as that is where I will be and spend a few nights in Hawaii.

    A tip that may be helpful if you have the magnetic keys to open doors do not put them next to your phone or a credit card etc. If you are sharing and your roomie does this and you go out you may find you cant get back in. my roomie did this up to 3 times a day and we were forever having the keys reset. If one does it all keys need to be reset and cos I was in bed early from jetlag and often up 3am for same reason I would go back and be locked out.

  109. Like I said.

    For a friend.

    To bring with you. That you already own.

    To stalk authors and get signed.

    Not ones you buy there.

    Otherwise "too many" and "books" never belong in the same sentence.

  110. I've got a suitcase full of swag...freebies...gimmees whatever you want to call them. I'll stuff some clothes around and about but that suitcase is in effect, all taken.

    Then I've got a hanging bag.
    We'll check those two things.
    Then I've got a computer case.
    And I'll take my purse, that's my two carry on items, right?

    Then Ivan takes a backpack and he said he'll take a smaller carryon sized suitcase. So I think we'll be okay.
    The purse...I've had it with me, with plans to stow it in my computer bag when it made a THIRD item, but then they never asked me too. Does the purse usually count as a third carryon?

  111. Loved reading this post and the comments of those excited about the conference. What great tips! I'm just a reader; can't wait to read about the conference...and see pictures!
    Praying safe travel for all.
    Would love to win Debby's book.
    Jackie S.

  112. Looking forward to seeing you, Debby!!! I can't think of any tips that weren't already shared. Except, here is one. Don't take sleeping pills if you have a bad reaction to antihistimines! LOL! But instead, take Magnesium. It's a natural mineral your body needs anyway, and it will help you sleep. :-) Very important if you're too excited at the conference to sleep. Like me.

  113. P.S. Mary, I don't think bringing something to hand out is obnoxious at all. Once I sat next to James Patterson on a cross country flight and he had two assistants and nothing to hand out! The guy kept getting his photo taken, the captain even came back to meet him, but nothing else. I always thought how fun it would have been if he'd had a little card or something.

    So, not obnoxious when you meet a fan!!

  114. I wish I were going, Debby! Next year. Great tips for any trip.

    All of you who are going to conference, have a fantastic trip.

  115. Jeanne T...

    Is Bertha your suitcase?

    Bet the toes look great. :)

  116. It's okay not to win the spread sheet competition, Jeanne! Really!

  117. Jan, you'll have chocolate? Good to know. :)

  118. Carol, all the authors I know would be honored to sign copies of their books. The more the better, IMHO! :)

  119. Ausjenny, thanks for a peek into air travel down under.

    Great, great, great tip about keeping your magnetic room key away from cell phones. I've had them go "bad" too! So frustrating!

    I'm an aisle seat gal. I like to be able to get up and pace, if need be. Plus, I get a little claustrophobic if I'm in the middle or in a window seat.

    Good luck getting your Dallas flights!

  120. Hi Jackie S! Readers are so special to all of us in Seekerville. Always a joy to see your comments.


  121. Melanie, I didn't know Mg helps sleep. Good info! Thanks for that tip!

    See you soon!

  122. Virginia, you sat next to James Patterson?

    Oh my gosh!!! Be still my heart!!!!

    Next time, pass your card to JP. He'll be excited sitting next to YOU!!!


  123. Cara, would you take care of Julie and Sandra and Ruthy? And find someone to turn on the coffee pot. Hard to find anyone as reliable as Helen, I know, but do your best!

    Coffee is important in Seekerville!


  124. Mary, a purse and carryon? You're good to go!

  125. I see your point Debby.

    Now, how many dozen can I fit in my suitcase...

  126. I have a question for all you expert packers. What is the best way to pack jewelry?

  127. That is the important question, Carol!!! :)

  128. Good question, Melanie.

    I pack mine in ziplock bags. I don't take many pieces, just some earrings and a few bracelets. One or two necklaces and that's it.

  129. Ziploc bags is what I was thinking too, Debby. Thanks!

  130. Candy Calvert /ahem/ [like her dinner creations don't give us enough to be jealous of] apparently packs the accessories for each outfit in a ziplock and attaches it to the hanger somehow.


    So not that organized.

    Or so not enough accessories in my house to make it worthwhile.

  131. Great tips, Debby and Seekers! I cannot wait to see many of you there next week!!! Hugs, Patti Jo
    p.s. But since I don't wear my glasses like I should, if I don't notice some of you please get about a foot from my face and wave, LOL. ~ PJ

  132. arol has the party van. You and your entourage are going to have a great time...don't eat all the cookies!!!

    Great tips, Debby. And so many things I hadn't thought of. Like the socks. Ewww, no telling where all those feet have been!

    After all this talk of packing for the trip, I hauled out the luggage when I got home from work. Ahh, just as I left it since last conference, LOL. Anyway, the first thing I packed was the secretary. It gets a huge suitcase to itself...and it fits! I think I gave Pammy a heartattack earlier today when I asked her if I should put her name on it if I sent it instead of bringing it with me.


    No,no,no, Pammy dear. The hotel, not MS!!

    Anyway, I think I'll bring it with me. Frontier has their brutes and so does USPS. I just need to buffer around it very carefully : )

  133. So what happened to the "C"?

    Carol. I meant to write, Carol.

  134. Melanie, packing jewelry and other little stuff like that always throws me for a loop.

    Last time I took a wide strip of fabric and rolled my necklaces in it (layered), then stuffed it into a ziplock bag. It seemed to work out well. We'll see how it goes this year.

  135. PattiJo! Can't wait to see you! When do you leave ATL?

  136. The secretary is a work of art. Pray over your suitcase, Audra!

  137. I carry a stainless steel water bottle, making sure it's empty (and the lid swinging by its cord) when I go through security. Then I find a water fountain or dispenser and fill it up. I'm anti-pre-bottled water, and I've never had a problem bringing my bottle through security yet. Although I lost mine in Indy last year and had to order a new one from FlyLady. That made me sad.

    And really? It's not that I'm so 'good' at packing or sacrificial to not need checked luggage. I'm a simple person. I just don't even know what I'd put in another suitcase!

  138. Oh, I hate that I missed yesterday! Deb, I'm printing this off because you have covered every mistake I've ever made!!!! And I'm always rushing, last minute, and a checklist like you've got here...

    I'm highlighting the stuff that applies to me which is ALMOST everything you advised...

    is going to be such a big help. THANK YOU!!!!

  139. Always put outfits including underwear together for the day makes it easier if you have to get dress in the dark! and always carry a nightlight/flashlight instead of leaving light on for nighttime bathroom trips to keep from waking your roommates

  140. Flying used to be such a fun adventure. I remember traveling in hose and heels. Everyone was dressed-up, and there was plenty-of room on airplanes. I was never worried about having to stow my coat. There was an actual coat closet.
    These days, I would prefer to have "Scotty, beam me up" than get on an airplane.