IDEXX @ VMX 2019

Traveling for veterinary conferences: How to pack like a pro for VMX

By Sarah Rumple

There are two types of people in this world: those who check a bag and those who carry on. Of course, there are exceptions, but the checkers almost never exclusively carry on, and the carriers almost never check a bag.

Whether you’re a checker or a carrier, packing for a veterinary conference can be challenging. What should you bring to wear? You’ll be attending sessions during the day. Maybe you’ll get up early to hit the gym. You’ll probably check out some of the special events and networking receptions. You may hit the town with friends and colleagues after the sponsored events end. Just a couple of conference days, and you could be looking at up to eight outfits, and that’s not even considering back-up outfits in case of inclement weather, mood changes, wardrobe malfunctions.

Not to worry. Just in time for VMX, here’s a list of packing tips to help take your work-travel skills from rookie to pro:

  • Bring items that can be layered and repurposed. January is typically Orlando’s coolest month, with average daily highs around 70°F and lows approaching 50°F. Yes, 70°F in January may sound balmy if you live in Green Bay, but consider how chilly those convention center rooms can be. So, bring items that layer well and can be repurposed inconspicuously for multiple days (provided you don’t spill on them or sweat in them or trip into a mud puddle while wearing them). 

Imagine this:

  • Day 1: A buttoned-up blazer over a little black dress 
  • Day 2: Same little black dress sans blazer, add belt, carry cardigan for session rooms
  • Day 3: Blazer from day 1 with jeans and a blouse
  • Day 4: Jeans from day 3 with different blouse and cardigan from day 2

Bring a different dress and blouse to wear with your jeans from days 3 and 4 (it’s OK!) for a couple nights out, a neutral purse or clutch, a day’s worth of workout clothes, a couple pairs of comfortable (and stylish) shoes, and you’re good to go.

  • Do laundry. If you happen to spill, sweat, or trip into a mud puddle, ask your hotel about laundry services, or check out some local laundry services. She Loves to Do Laundry will pick up from and deliver to your hotel within 24 hours and gets five stars from 50 reviewers on Yelp. 
  • Roll. Don’t fold. Rolled clothing takes up less space in your suitcase and is less likely to get the deep wrinkles from fold creases. 
  • Bring travel-size everything. If you’re already a carrier, you know this. All of your toiletries should be travel-size, and leave the hair dryer at home. 
  • Bring business cards. VMX offers plenty of great education, but as one of the largest conferences in the industry, the networking opportunities are numerous. Don’t be caught without a business card when someone asks for it.
  • Consider shipping any conference materials home. We’re all too familiar with those giant conference bags stuffed with goodies that consume our once perfectly packed suitcases and either push us over the weight limit (checkers) or over the size limit (carriers). Instead, stop by the FedEx Office Print and Ship Center—it’s located right inside the Orange County Convention Center and could be less expensive than those extra airline fees.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a checker or a carrier—you can go from home to Orlando and back again confidently knowing you’ve got everything you need in your perfectly packed suitcase. Happy travels!