What to pack for a weekend conference

Nikki Parkinson Fashion 28 Comments

I spent some time yesterday planning and packing for the next three days.

I’m heading down the road to the Gold Coast, picking up my partners-in-crime room mates at Brisbane Airport on the way.

Our destination is the QT Gold Coast and the fifth annual Problogger Training Event, at which I’m speaking at on both days.

Just in case you’re feeling sorry for me. Don’t.

The spa has been booked for our arrival, dinner in Bazaar is happening the first night and there will be much margarita drinking networking happening in and around the Stingray bar.

I love blogging conferences.

Yes the social factor is a very big drawcard, as is the escape from reality (blogger Tiny Savages sums this up in the most hilarious way here), but I really do find it inspirational to be around people who share this mutual love of communicating and being online.

We are all out there writing and sharing things with our online communities (I’m so grateful that you show up here as part of the SY community) in the hope that we are connecting with like-minded others and bringing this big, wide world down to a scale that feels friendly and welcoming.

The many people attending this conference are flying in from all around Australia.

Like any industry conference, the “what to pack?” question has been high on everyone’s priorities.

It’s also a question I frequently get asked about for non-blogging conferences so I thought I’d share some of the thought and planning process that goes into what to pack for a weekend conference.

7 top tips for a conference travel wardrobe

1. Consider the time of week the conference is being held. The weekend bit is important. If you were going away on a conference during the week – particularly a work conference – you might be dressing more like you do for work.

2. Consider the location of the conference. A beachside location immediately relaxes the tone of dress; an inner city location is likely to mean a more professional outfit.

3. Consider the expected temperatures at your conference destination. This only applies to a degree as you may be spending most of the conference time indoors. And as most conference-goers can attest, the air-conditioning is likely to err on the cooler side. For a spring conference in Queensland, I factor in light jackets and a lightweight scarf/wrap which I keep in my handbag and pull out if required.

What to pack for a weekend conference - day

1. Metalicus top $69.95 | 2. Seed pants $89.95 | 3. Blue Illusion ponte blazer $199.95 | 4. Louenhide bag $119.95 @ Birdsnest | 5. Django & Juliette sandals $139.95 @ Styletread | 6. Sportscraft necklace $44.96 (on sale)

4.  Work out the number of outfits required across the conference weekend. In my case this weekend, I’ve got four day outfits and three evening outfits to plan. I’m generally not known for my packing skills but the amount of travel I’ve done of late has seen me get better at creating capsule travel wardrobes. I’m factoring in wearing the same pair of jeans three times across different occasions, I’m aiming for three pairs of shoes (plus thongs!) and I’m making a few key accessories work across all the outfits. Yes, I don’t know who I am either.

5.  Are there any themed evening events? If you’re a regular around here you know my thoughts on themed events. I’m not a fan. Unless the theme involves sequins. At this conference there is an “AHOY” themed networking event. I’m ok with that too … 3/4 of my wardrobe is striped.

6.  Dress for comfort. This is a biggie. You are sitting around a lot, walking between rooms and venues, standing around a lot talking to people … you don’t want to feel like you can’t breathe or move in your clothes. Comfort dressing is simple. Pack clothes that fit. There is a lot to be said for a fancy soft pant or high levels of stretch, I say. Unless you’re a pro at wearing heels, opt for lower during the day and bring your heels out at night if you’re up for it.

7.  Show your personality. A conference is something you attend to learn from keynote speakers and expert panels but it’s also something you attend to learn from other conference-goers. It’s about making connections, new friendships and cementing old friendships. You want people to see who you are – because you’re pretty damn special. The easiest way to do this is to dress to show your personality through the clothes and accessories you choose to wear. If colour and patterns are your thing, go for it. If you can’t go out without sequins, don’t leave them at home. If you like minimalist designs in a neutral palette, stun with your cool-edged simplicity. You get the idea. Dress for you … and you’ll feel more confident to hang out with others.

What to pack for a conference - evening networking

1. French Connection blazer $149.95 | 2. Witchery top $99.95 | 3. Bird Keepers pant $89.95 @ Birdsnest | 4. Sussan bag $59.95 | 5. Ko Fashion heels $59.95 @ Styletread | 6. Samantha Wills ring $120

Have you been to a conference lately? Heading to PBEVENT? Got any tips for the SY community?

Comments 28

  1. Love that evening look. I’m always a bit stuck when it comes to evening clothes, have so much daytime casual but not enough sparkly “let’s have some fun” clothes.

  2. Ooo have fun! I was at the same hotel for a work conference in March. Funky decor and great location. I recommend the giant polka dot cookies at afternoon tea!

  3. I’ve been waiting for a post like this! I’m off on a three day conference on a cruise ship end of October…there is a black tie awards dinner and a fancy dress (not theme, just straight up fancy dress lol)…my aim is to cut down the maybe’s and just-in-case-I-need-it stuff that I usually lug around to this yearly event! My record was eleven (!!!) pairs of shoes…we needed a small suitcase just for my shoes, bags and accessories LOL…I’ve got the black tie and fancy dress sorted, so your advice here is priceless for the rest of the event. Question : how casual can you go on a cruise? (Sydney to NZ) xx

    1. I think casual but on the smart side is the way to go Sandra. It will be warm-ish but not height of summer, so some layers. And I did actually do this conference with just three pairs of shoes – that’s some kind of record for me!!

  4. Great post, Nikki, it’s got me thinking about a literature course I go on every year in the Blue Mountains. Every year I think I really need to plan this better. 🙂 I’ll be using these tips. Themed dinner also gets me stuck as I don’t plan ahead enough. I also think I need to buy a witty/related t-shirt for one day as a giggle but leave it to… the day before! I’m also a little worn out by the evenings as high maintenance outfits get ditched.
    Hope you enjoy Problogger. Seems lots of my fave bloggers are there!

  5. Love all these ideas and suggestions. I have a question, Do you write down all
    your outfits to work out the combinations or do you lay it all out on the bed and then mix and match?

  6. Go you with the light packing! It is like everything the more you do it, the easier it gets. I love those outfit selections. With my work – we don’t have conferences we have “retreats” (hmmm, I know!) where the dress code is smart casual. That and casual Friday (gee I miss those) used to send me into a spin but now I think I have got it sorted!

  7. You’ve certainly been out and about lately Nikki! I bet you’ve got the whole packing and what-to-wear thing down pat and could do it with your eyes closed! I’ve never been to any conferences but it sounds fun!

  8. I agree about themed parties or occasions I absolutely detest them.I love everything you have chosen for a conference or a weekend away ,there is some gorgeous outfits there Nikki ,I think I could easily buy them all!I do hope the weather is kind to you all ,lucky it is not in Sydney as it is horrible weather here,have fun and post lots of IG outfit pics Xx
    Ps I just thought of an idea i keep travel sized products separately and take them with me when I go away.

  9. This post is perfectly timed for me. I’ve recently started a new job where the dress code is a little more casual than my previous job. Not a lot, but a bit. I don’t feel too overdressed, but when I head out and about out to early childhood services I definitely need some more practical options! I’m also going to a conference from next Thursday to Tuesday (the Early Childhood Australia conf) in Melbourne. So I’m hitting the shops this weekend. I should spend some time planning…thanks for the tips 🙂

  10. I’ve got an industry conference coming up in November in Adelaide, so great timing (as usual) to start thinking weather/themes/functions etc and what to pack. Thanks to SY and a conference last year, I’ve got a great selection of pieces ready to go, just need to get everything out and add in a couple of new pieces for this season and perhaps some new jewellery. I plan on packing some exercise gear to get out and about walking around Adelaide too (I grew up there and haven’t been back in many years). I also plan my make up for the trip, perhaps a new neutral lipstick for day and new eyeshadow for evenings. Thanks Nikki, and enjoy your conference!

  11. Loving both styles Nikki. I am sharing a few Louis Vuitton tips on how to pack on the blog today for those interested Have a fabulous time. I so wish I was able to make this weekend to meet you V x

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