Work Conference Essentials

Dagne Dover what's in my bag

I've worked in two different trade associations in my career and I have about five years of work conferences under my belt. I've gone to conferences both as a host (as in my association is organizing the conference, not me by myself!) and as just a regular attendee and I can tell you that hosting is a LOT more exhausting than being an attendee. Hosting requires you to be on call almost 24/7.

So it's with this experience I write this post today about a couple things that you should keep on hand while either attending or hosting a conference. Let's face it - conferences can be long and arduous. My coworkers and I always say that a conference is a marathon and not a sprint. You need to take care of yourself for the entire duration of it, not just go all out one day and be tired for the next week.

Here are some of the things I recommend:

Related post: NYFW Essentials

  • Water bottle: Staying hydrated while enduring long hours of talking and shuffling around is key! I bought a Camelbak Eddy water bottle late last year and it's been a GAME CHANGER! I take it with me everywhere because it holds exactly enough water for me to get my necessary 64 ounces. 
  • Phone charger: (also acceptable: backup batteries) Is it just me or do phones nowadays just do not last long on a full charge? My association created an app specifically for our conference that included a social component and a schedule which was super handy. Unfortunately, it drained my batteries like no other. I kept my portable phone charger on hand at all times. When I was in a meeting, I made sure to plug my phone into the nearest outlet. 
  • Business cards: When I started my very first job out of college, my dad got me a gorgeous business card holder from Korea. I've been using it since to carry my business cards and I always feel a sense of pride when I pull it out of my bag and offer the cards inside while networking. Always be sure to carry your business cards with you - after all, networking is what conferences are all about!
  • Snacks: I have low blood sugar and I'm anemic. This doesn't make for the best combination when I am stuck on exhibit hall duty or in a meeting when I'm hungry. I made sure to stock my work bag with some fruit (usually a clementine or two) or some chips. Speaking of work bags...
  • A "carry-everything" bag: I LOVED having my Dagne Dover bag with me during conference! Not only does the classic size carry all my essentials, the organizational pockets make everything easy to find! 
  • Extra shoes: Hear me out - At 5'3, I like wearing heels because feeling taller helps me feel a bit more confident (which is so needed during professional events). That said, I can only walk in them for so long. I always make sure to keep a pair of flats in my bag so I can slip into them when I need a break.
  • Hand sanitizer: This is something I thought of after a bunch of my coworkers and I started to feel sick (I mentioned my cold and sore throat yesterday). Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer around to make sure you're not spreading germs around. Being sick and having to work is no fun. 
Related post: What's in my Weekender and Packing Tips

Have you guys been to work conferences before? What are some tips you recommend?


  1. couldn't agree with these more! especially the part about a carry-all bag + extra pair of shoes! those are definitely necessities <3

  2. All the best necessities here! But I almost always forget somthing haha!

  3. This is great advice - particularly the extra shoes! Whenever I wear heels for work it was always good to have a backup pair of flats, now I just wear flats all the time as a mum I just can't last as long in heels as I used to. Used to wear them every day, ha!

    A big carry all bag is always a good idea too :)

    Hope you have been having a great week :)

    Away From The Blue Blog

  4. I had a conference internship in college and carried all of these things that week!! I haven't had a chance to attend any conferences for my line of work yet in my career but I hope to in the next couple years- I'll definitely remember this packing list!

    xoxo A

  5. My essentials are for conferences Airborne, battery bank, snacks that won't mess with digestion or be filled with sugar, and if you're going to be fancy - change of clothes (because shit happens and in case I get uncomfortable).

    1. also moisturizer... never forget moisturizer.

  6. Totally agree with your list! A good bag, snacks + phone/laptop charger are always a must for me!

  7. snacks are my biggest must have!! hand sanitizer and travel tissues are also always in my bag!

  8. I'm so thankful I don't have to attend conferences with my job. They may be for some people but not this girl! Glad you found some great tips and tricks for getting through them.

  9. I love conferences and totally agree with the extra shoe tip. Honestly, if living in a walking city has taught me anything it's to NEVER go anywhere with just a pair of heels.

  10. I always carry snacks with me! I hate feeling hungry or shaky!

  11. I love your carry everything bag! I need to keep this list in mind when I go to my work conference this week.

    -xo, Azanique |

  12. I agree with everything you listed! I think business cards are the #1 essential, how else are people going to remember you!

    The Classic Brunette

  13. I LOVEEEEE that Dagne Dover bag and recognized it immediately!! Is it the Legend tote? I own that one in Bleecker Blush and it's my everyday work bag, I adore it and will never use anything else!


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