Fresh from another Romantic Novelists’ Association conference, I’m not sure I remember every single thing I gleaned from three hugely busy days. However, I’m perfectly placed for sharing my definitive list of all the things no conference-goer should be without. It goes without saying you’ll need phone-charging equipment, and something to take photos. Here are a few items that you may have overlooked.
Many conferences are in colleges and universities. Nowadays student accommodation often has en suite facilities (what a pampered lot today’s student body is) but hairdryers are rarely part of the deal, so bring your own if you want freshly coiffed hair day after day.
By all means dress up to the nines with eight-inch heels for the gala dinner, but by day your toes may appreciate some wiggle-room. You may even want to venture out of the conference building for occasional fresh air.
Yes, I’ve mentioned ‘fresh’ three times. Last weekend’s RNA conference was at Harper Adams University. There’s something very special about rural Shropshire, especially when they’re spreading pig manure. For those of you that think this smells like horse or cow manure, let me assure you it doesn’t. It’s roughly the difference between the nappy contents of a milk-fed baby and those of a baby who’s weaned onto solid foods.
Shorthand pad and pencils
Make sure you can jot down the pearls of wisdom gleaned from speakers, from colleagues, or just from propping up the bar. There may be a notebook in your conference pack. On the other hand, it may only contain books and chocolate hearts.
A must for everyone who’s got them, whether you’re a speaker or just attending the conference.
Cushioning for the bed
The condition of the mattress may leave something to be desired. Like sleep. I never regret bringing along an old duvet to use as a mattress pad.
Essential kit for the nightly kitchen parties, unless you stick to Prosecco. Consider supplies of tea and coffee too. Then again, I suppose there’s always Prosecco.
All veteran attendees bring these – see above. Why is it ‘attendee’, anyway? Logic suggests it should be ‘attender’.
For when you’re a party-pooper and absolutely have to get in some zeds before dawn.
A great conference always sends attendees home with a smile, but why not bring one on arrival? It makes all the difference when meeting people.
Over to you. What’s on your conference list? I’d love to hear.