Apr 3, 2013

BEA Tips & Tricks: Part 5

BEA 2013 Tips & Tricks
Part 5: Bring It On … Or Not

There is so much that goes into packing for a trip, but especially a trip like BEA. The trick is to pack smart and only bring what you need, not always what you want. Here’s a list of things to bring, leave, and consider.


1. Suitcase: Seems like a gimme, but remember you can bring a bag to BEA and check it. Please do this. Your arms, shoulders, and back will thank you. I use the one I bring, which means I unpack my clothes in the hotel room (so weird, right?) and use that suitcase daily for the expo. Even if you can fit all your clothes in a smaller suitcase, you may want to bring the bigger one, especially if you plan on carrying some or all of the things you get at the expo (and in NYC) home with you. I got a few books last year I couldn’t bear to send off with USPS in case they got lost.

Make sure this suitcase is sturdy and can withstand abuse. I saw several people who packed their suitcases full of books, totes, and other swag only to have the handle rip off, the wheels warp, or the bag itself tear apart. My aunt didn’t even attend BEA, but her suitcase broke being hauled around Penn Station.

Seriously, guys, don’t try to be a hero and carry several totes filled with books for hours on end. I’ve seen people do it and heard them complain about achy shoulders and backs for all three days. Also? It’s not good for you. Unless you’re in training for a triathalon.

2. Appropriate Clothing: BEA is a working event. I saw several people in cut off sweat pants that were made into fraying shorts showing a healthy amount of booty cleavage and spaghetti strap tanks that had more holes than a slice of swiss cheese. That’s just not appropriate for this sort of thing. Really it’s not appropriate for anywhere but your house or WalMart.

I’m not saying you need a ball gown and tux, or even a dress, but look professional. I did capris (black or khaki) and a top (not a t-shirt, but something I would wear to my own job) with a clean pair of sneakers. Some people wore a nice pair of jeans with a nice top. Please remember to wear the right shoes. Saying your four inch stilettos are comfortable while sitting down isn’t the same as tottering around all day in them on a concrete floor.

Also, keep in mind you may be sitting on a floor during down time. I got to BEA 2 hours early every day and sat on the floor while waiting to get in. I couldn’t sprawl out comfortably in a skirt or dress. When I was in line waiting for a signing for over an hour, I sat and enjoyed it. Wear clothes that look nice, but are functional, too.

3. Food: By now you’ve undoubtedly heard how expensive food is at the Javits (same price as a sporting event or concert). Save money where you can and bring snacks. I brought goldfish and pretzel fish which kept my tummy happy from breakfast until dinner, and I could munch on them while waiting in line. I also brought my own water bottle. My hotel was next to a Walgreens and I bought a few bottles there for $.50 each. They were great to keep in my room and take to BEA.

4. Locks: Make sure you have a lock for your suitcase (you can get them cheap at Target and in an array of awesome neon colors). I did hear that a few people had stuff stolen even from the suitcase corral there. Make sure you can lock your stuff up so it doesn’t get messed with. Yes, there are people “guarding” the area, but they just check your ticket to make sure you have a bag there, take you behind the curtain to where it is and leave you. These bags are packed so tightly, wandering hands may wander into unprotected bags.

5. Copies of Documents: I had copies of everything—train tickets, BEA registration confirmation, passes, hotel confirmations, schedules … I had multiple copies of everything in different locations so I was golden. But I’m extremely paranoid about things going wrong/missing.

6. Emergency Stash: I always carry an emergency stash of ibuprofen, Tylenol, pepto bismol (the tablets), and immodium when I go away. I don’t want any crazy stomach issues or a massive headache to slow me down. Keep a little pill box with some of these things in it to toss in your bag. It takes up virtually no space and you’ll be thankful you have it if you realize that Thai food you had the night before doesn’t agree with your system.


1. Purse: Leave it in your hotel during BEA if possible. Bring your essentials: Credit card, ID, money, etc. I recommend a nice wristlet that can be easily tossed into your bag. Leave the Chanel bag home this time. Or, if you do bring a purse, make it functional.

I had a messenger bag I brought to the expo that had my wallet, phone, camera, snacks, etc. It easily crossed over my chest, but I will admit my neck got a bit sore after a while because I over packed it. Amazing how much those small things can weigh when combined together for several hours. I actually got a bag for BEA this year that doubles as a large purse for when I’m not at BEA and a tote for when I am at BEA.

[Side note: I know a lot of people think it's ridiculous to bring a tote to BEA when they're handing them out by the dozen inside, but I'll devote an entire post/vlog as to why I bring a pre-packed tote to BEA and what's inside in a few weeks.]

2. Unnecessary clothes: Check the weather a day or two before you go and see what it will be like that way you don’t pack everything from a parka to flip flops. The weather in the North East can be kinda wonky this time of year. It could be 50 and windy (windy in NYC takes on a whole new meaning) or 80 and humid. Pack accordingly.
The same goes for makeup, hair products, etc. Don’t pack every bit of makeup in your drawer because you might need it. This can include jewelry, too. Think minimal. You don’t need every necklace/ring/bracelet in your jewelry box. Bring stuff you can use multiple days to save space.

But don’t under pack either—had I check the weather the day before we left I would have seen rain was predicted and not walked out of Penn Station into a downpour, soaking myself and my suitcase while wearing flip flops. I was freezing by the time we got to the hotel and I could change.

Which reminds me, I owe that street vendor a hug for the $5 umbrella he sold me.

3. Computer: I really went back and forth on this one before I left last year and ultimately decided not to bring mine. Thank God I made that call. The last thing I needed was one more thing to haul around, plus I honestly wouldn’t have had time to do anything with it. The days were spent at BEA, at night I did stuff in NYC and when I was in the hotel I either wanted to read one of my shiny books or stare at the wall while laying down until the room stopped spinning because I was so tired.

If you have your heart set on blogging daily, then go for it. But don’t be shocked if you don’t use it. Try bringing a netbook (mini computer) or tablet.

4. Books: Sounds silly, right? No need to bring books to an event giving away books.

There’s always a few people who bring a copy of their favorite book when they find out that author is going to be at BEA so they can get the book signed. If it’s an official signing line the author is in, odds are the publicist will tell you there isn’t time for you to dig out your copy to get that one personalized, too. Plus authors have a limited window during signings—don’t make someone else miss getting a book because you wanted Julie Kagawa to sign every copy of the Iron Fey series you have. Please.

If you want to bring a book you’re desperate to get signed, try hitting up an author if you see them on the floor when they aren’t signing or for coffee or cupcakes one afternoon. But please don’t bring books to BEA unless you absolutely cannot live without having it signed, and even then, don’t hold up a line to get a signature.

This includes ereaders, kids. I’ve seen a few people saying in posts this year and last how they want to bring their Nook/Kindle/iPad/Whatever to read while waiting in line. Try reading one of the dozen books already in your bag or talking to the people around you. We don’t bite … Unless you’re in the Ellora’s Cave line. Then I believe biting is cool as long as its consensual.

Ereaders are also heavy and breakable. Bring one to read in the plane/train/car, but keep it in the hotel. If you’re worried about security, most hotels have a room safe you can use.


1. Portable charger: Most of us smart phone uses know how long it takes to drain our battery. And while you can bring a wall outlet charger … Where will you plug it in? Are you seriously going to sit and wait an hour while your phone charges in the food court? Or leave it on a table when you go to a signing? Because I didn’t see any places to plug in while waiting in lines at BEA.

A portable charger gives you so much freedom. I loved tweeting, taking pics, and texting during BEA, but my battery was dying after 5 or 6 hours. Luckily I had a portable charger that fit easily in my bag. I could stand in line or walk around and charge it without missing a beat.

2. Camera: Seems like an easy one, but no, not really. Ask yourself if you’re the kind of person who uses a camera or the camera on your cell phone. No need to bring both to
BEA if you’re only going to use your phone. I found myself only using my phone frequently because I would text or tweet and then snap a pic. My phone was a heck of a lot easier to slip in and out of my pocket and this much easier to use for pics.

This year I resolve to use my camera more because I love my camera to pieces. See me not taking my own advice here?

3.  Toiletries: Talk to the people you’re rooming with and try sharing things. I’m rooming with my mom, aunt, and cousin. There’s no need for all four of us to bring our own hair dryer, curling iron, and straightener. We’ll share these things and save suitcase space.

If you can share a tube of toothpaste, bottle of shampoo… Every little bit helps. Have you seen the size of an NYC hotel room? These things are SMALL, and the bathrooms are even smaller. There is no room for multiple women to lay out their arsenal of supplies. Share what you can. Hit up a dollar store, Target and WalMart to buy samples of stuff you use and then throw them away when you leave your hotel. Remember the travel aisle in these stores are your new best friends. You don’t need to bring your 64 oz bottle of conditioner you got at the wholesale club. Grab a little bottle from Target for $0.88 and fill that up.

4. Packing supplies: While this isn’t a must, it might save you a dollar or two if you go ahead and get packing supplies in preparation for what you’ll be sending home. I brought a roll of packing tape and a sharpie (because I knew it would be easier to read on a giant box than a pen) and it worked out great. 

Previous BEA Tips & Tricks Posts:


  1. Thanks for the awesome tips! I got the BEA pass but still contemplating whether I can go or not however in the meantime it is good to be prepared for if I do end up going.

    I totally agree with you on the bag. I travel a lot so I know the feeling of a pained shoulder. Actually during my vacation last summer I ended up hurting my shoulder and it JUST recovered. Months of unbelievable pain from the carrying.

    great post,
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    1. I hope you can go! It's such an amazing experience!

  2. Ah... reading your post makes me already excited! It will be my third year and I know how much such tips are helping!! YES about the comfortable but classy clothes :))

    And. I always bring a separate bag just for the books, some dufflebag only for the books. Mainly because I'm living in Germany and cannot sned them home but need to check them in.
    Also, I totally recommend checking the bags in for 3$ a day and then just go and leave the books there. Like this you do not have to carry all books around - which is horrible! Thankfully, nobody "stole" from me last year but I might consider getting a lock!

    1. Oh, wow! I had no idea you were coming from Germany! That's quite a trek. I definitely understand why you can only bring a duffel.

  3. Hahahaha I'm so that person that's wandering around with a giant tote and dying from the weight Hannah! I've never utilized the bag check, I don't know why. I guess I just like to keep the books with me at all times, I don't like to be separated from them. Obsessive and possessive much? Usually the Moms leave around lunchtime, cab it back to the hotel with all the books, drop them off in the room, and then come back. That way we start over with fresh, empty bags about halfway through the day. I usually stay in line and I'm forever grateful to them for all their help:)

    Also, the Moms, Danny, Pushy and I found an awesome restaurant a couple blocks up from the Javits, we'll have to take you this year. It's nice to have something substantial at least one of the days:)

    1. Oh no! LOL! Don't hurt yourself!

      That's so cool that the Moms will do that. :) Very awesome. And yes! Show me this restaurant!

  4. As always, amazingly useful advise! I have a post schedule for tomorrow about my BEA mistakes :)

    1. I cannot WAIT to read it, Liza! And I totally plan on tackle-hugging you, just so you know.

  5. I'm not sure if I'll ever end up at BEA, but if I do go? I'm so checking these posts and following them religiously! So, so helpful!

  6. Do you find that the tote would be easier than the messenger bag for walking around the expo? I'd have thought they were about the same, but I'm not sure. :)

    1. Oh, God, yes! I'm actually going to do a vlog in a few weeks about the tote and bringing and the essentials I'll have in it for BEA, but the messenger/mail bag bag I had was a Vera Bradley and it has this massive flap that covers the front of the bag that I had to pull back, then unzip the bag and root around inside. Here's what that bag looked like

      The tote I'm bringing is a Cindy tote from Thirty-One (See it here!) and it's a little bit bigger, but there's only one zipper, I can use a shoulder strap to make it a cross-body bag, or just the handles to make it a large purse (great for NYC). It has pockets inside and the VB bag I used last year was all cloth, so it had no support. This tote won't mix everything inside together, if that makes sense.

  7. I'm totally loving these posts! Bookmarking all of your BEA posts for packing/getting ready week. :-) Thanks for sharing, these are AWESOME!


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