Tuesday, August 28, 2012

packing for a/c not the forecast

Last week I had the pleasure of flying to Dallas, TX to coach 400 of the newest practitioners at my firm. Most of these Analysts are recent college grads, others have previous work experience, and a few already have Masters degrees. The diversity of backgrounds and experiences ultimately leads to a successful and engaging learning experience but it also reminded me that their exposure to office cultures was limited, at best.

As a coach at this week-long training I knew to expect cold temperatures because I had been fooled too many times. Rather than packing for the forecast outside, I planned for the blasting air-conditioning inside. This turned out to be a successful method as I usually didn't step outside until I was enjoying dinner on the patio or while en route to the bar after the sun had set. This is a common trap for women to be conscious of when traveling for business, so I've included some tips to keep in mind when packing for your next conference!

  • Mix and Match!
    • Multiple layers take up more space in your suitcase and chances are that space is precious because you have a carry on. Choose 2-3 jackets or cardigans that coordinate with multiple outfits to save space.
    • It's okay to wear the same pair of pants or the same skirt twice. Change up the top you are pairing it with and nobody will ever notice!
  • Prepare for the A/C not the Forecast
    • I suggest wearing pants! Not only is it cold in the rooms but I am usually worked to the bone and so tired that I have minimal interest and time to commit to shaving. Yes, I know that's not something y'all want to hear but it's true. If I can skip a day of shaving my legs after getting only 4 hours of sleep, I am grateful! 
    • Pack pantyhose or stockings. This can go against your mindset for summer months - but remember that you're not outside in the heat, you are inside in a cold conference room! If you don't feel comfortable in pantyhose, please refer to the bullet above :)
  • Fashion or Function?
    • Shoes take up precious space in your suitcase as well. Pack some pairs that are versatile enough to wear day and night. You'll also want to think about an overall color scheme so that you can wear your shoes with multiple work outfits throughout the week.
    • Don't forget that most conference centers are big... you'll cover a lot of distance between your room, the ballroom, the restaurant, and more! If you are wearing heels consider a thicker heel or a strap around your ankle. And don't forget those band-aids.
  • Consider your Audience
    • If you will be socializing with your colleagues, peers, and supervisors outside of the sessions, put a little thought into what is and what is not appropriate to wear. The shirt that slips off your shoulders may not be a great idea. 
Do you have any other suggestions for packing for a work trip??

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