Summer is here and with it comes wave after wave of conferences. Here are a few ways to make conference season a little more pleasant and a little less stressful.
Having a master packing list that you consult each time you go away is the only way to make sure you don't forget anything important. Don't forget any medications that you take, earplugs, cables for electronics, pyjamas, and toothpaste.
I know it's old advice, but rolling your clothes is a great way of fitting them into your suitcase. It also means you can pull them out when you need them without having to extract them from layers of other clothes. People say it reduces wrinkling, but my other half summed it up rather succinctly when he said "it's not that you don't get creases - they're just different creases."
I made a great decision a couple of years ago when I bought a pack of 10 clear plastic pencil cases. I use them for everything - make-up, medication, craft supplies, snacks, cables... If you put all your small items into clear pencil cases, you can see at a glance where they are.
I put together a little first aid kit to remedy any of the small things that would be annoying - bonjela in case of a mouth ulcer, eye drops and antihistamines in case of the dreaded pollen, antacids for stomach ache, painkillers for headaches, and plasters for small wounds.
A little folding travel plug like this one can be very useful to slip into your handbag with a USB cable for charging on the go.
When it comes to dressing for travel, comfort is key. I love stretchy clothes like leggings, t-shirts and hoodies. If you've got any sports clothes made out of moisture-wicking fabric, these are great for travelling on a hot day as they stop you feeling sweaty.
Have you ever wanted to watch the scenery rush past out of a train window, but been stopped by a big greasy forehead mark from whoever was sitting there before you? Bring a little packet of wet wipes so you can give the window a wipe and have an unobstructed view.
I don't have many other travel tips apart from - bring a book and don't put your bag on the seat next to you on a busy train like a jerk.
Hotel room hacks
Most hotels that cater for UK or Irish guests will have tea, coffee and a kettle in your room (for hotels without, my mum brings a tiny travel kettle). The tea and coffee supplied might not always be your preferred type, so I like to bring a few tea options with me (chamomile and Earl Grey are my favourites). I'm not a coffee drinker, but I've seen a few people with this AeroPress, which you put on your mug to make filter coffee for one.
If you get a stain on something you'd like to wear again, this travel wash is a great, concentrated solution that you can use in your hotel sink.
When your crumpled clothes emerge from your suitcase, a sensible person might iron them. However, if you, like me, hate ironing enough to never do it unless strictly necessary, an acceptable second choice is to hang up the garment in the bathroom before you have a hot shower. The steam will help some (but definitely not all) of the creases to drop out.
If I'm feeling particularly energetic I find it helpful to do a small workout before bed. Some exercises that you can do without equipment, that don't make weird thumping noises to disturb your neighbours, are salute to the sun, lunges, squats, planks, and most types of crunches. Equally, sometimes an exercise regime has to take a backseat to relaxing.
If you can, try to find a poster printing shop near to your venue so you don't have to lug a poster tube over on the plane. I've done this at my last two conferences, and it gives you a little extra time for putting the finishing touches on your poster as well as preventing problems with posters getting lost or crumpled. In both cases, it was also cheaper than getting it printed by the university!