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On the Road Again

by Amanda Forester

The biggest romance conference of the year, the annual Romance Writers of America Annual Conference, begins in just a few days and I am already on the road on the way to New York City.  So exciting!

Some people are expert travelers. They can stuff everything they need for a month’s vacation into a carry on. I am not one of those people. I pack for an overnight looking like I’m going on an expedition to the North Pole. A trip to New York requires more luggage than I own, or certainly care to lug around.  So, I have had to get creative with my packing to make the most of the limited space I have.  Most people will tell you to take less stuff. That is excellent advice…but for those who need (or feel compelled) to bring more than they have space for, here are some tips for cramming more stuff into a small space.

1.       Roll Clothes – rolled clothes fit into the corners of small spaces better and actually don’t wrinkle as much as you think. I’ve heard if you roll them in tissue paper they get even less wrinkled, but who has time for that?

2.       Space Saver Bags – the kind you need a vacuum cleaner to suck out the air is only helpful one way, so this trip I used the kind you roll the air out manually (I sat on it for extra squish). I found it particularly helpful for bulky items.  It can also be helpful to have different clothing items in different groups (shirts, underwear, etc.) so it can be easily found and repacked as you travel.

3.       Color Coordinate – choose a color pallet and stick with it.  This saves space particularly with shoes and accessories (or you can leave all your accessories at home – which I realize I did – sigh). This can also help with mix and match so you can create different outfits with the same basic pieces.

4.       Wash and Wear - Dry clean only is not your friend while travelling; pack things that wash and dry easily in the hotel’s laundromat.  That 100% polyester dress may not be as eco-friendly as other fabrics, but it will pop out of the suitcase without need for ironing and will wash and dry well in route as needed.

5.       Use Travel Size - and replace as you need along the way. One thing I love to do is buy all those cute little travel size containers of things.  They are so adorable!  I love them until I get to the checkout counter and choke over how much I just spent on a few ounces of toothpaste and deodorant.

6.       Plan it Out – plan for what items you will need for the different events and try to keep it simple. A plan can help avoid over-packing something you may not need much of and forget an item you actually need.

7.       Pack Plastic Bags – Garbage bags are good for dirty clothes, zip lock bags of all sizes are good for shoes down to jewelry. Very handy for keeping like things together and dirty or wet things away form clean and dry.

8.       Pack Double-Duty – workout/yoga pants and soft t-shirts can work as pajamas, and won’t look quite as awkward if you lock yourself out of your hotel room and have to go down to the desk to ask for another key card. I’ve done that. More than once.

9.       Big to Little - pack big stuff first and cram the little things like socks around the sides to use up all the available space.

10.   Pack an Emergency Expandable Bag – Things expand when I travel – and not just my waistline. Inevitably I end up with more stuff and going to RWA I know I’m coming home with books so I pack an expandable bag for it.

I am excited to see New York City and enjoy the conference. I’m looking forward to signing copies of Winter Wedding and sharing excerpts of my upcoming book The Highlander’s Bride. I’m sure I have both over-packed and forgotten things, but I guess that’s just part of traveling. What great packing tips have you found that work best for you? Have fun and travel on!



  1. In May I went on a trip (my daughter got married in Disney) and I forgot my PHONE!! Love all your tips.

    1. Oh no! That is rather tragic! Can't pick that up at the drug store. Hope you still had a good time!

  2. Great tips! So wish I were going this year. Have a wonderful time!

  3. So glad you're coming! I have seen you in years!

  4. Wonderful tips. Some hotels who host conventions that feature books have the capability of letting you pack media mail boxes to ship (thereby saving your back and your suitcase, lol). Don't forget the comfy shoes and have a wonderful time!

    1. Shipping books back is a great idea! And comfy shoes is a must, followed by a sweater since sometimes those conference rooms are cold!

  5. Great suggestions! Wish I could be there with you.
    Have a great time!


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