My husband, a firefighter, instantly awoke, “What’s wrong?”
“The alarm didn’t go off!” I had thirty minutes to catch my flight, and we lived twenty minutes from the airport! (This was in the days before security screenings).
Scheduled to fly to Rochester, New York, for a 1996 Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference and a week of research, I had stayed up late the night before packing my research files. You know, the important things.
Too tired to pack my suitcase, I figured I’d get four hours of sleep, get up early, pack, and leave. When I set the alarm, however, I mistakenly programmed it to wake me at 4:00 PM rather than AM.
Hearing my distress, my husband, the adrenaline pumping, sprang from the bed. True to his profession, he jumped into his pants and raced into fire battling mode as he chanted, “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!”
I stood by the bed dazed, “Oh no, oh no, oh no!”
Nudging me forward he volunteered, “I’ll pack for you!” He opened my suitcase, grabbed pants, dresses, and shoes, and tossed everything in the bag. I donned my down parka. After all, I was going to New York in August, and I wasn’t sure about the weather there.
We threw everything into the car, raced to the airport, arrived just as they were closing the gate, and they let me board! Un-showered and bedraggled, I looked like something the cat dragged in, BUT I made it. As the plane taxied down the runway, I took a deep breath, relaxed, thought of gratitude for my emergency trained husband, then wondered, “Did he pack any underwear?”
Moral to the story: Pack well before your trip. You never know what last minute items will derail the best plans.
Are you going to FGS 2011? Here’s some ideas to help you pack:
Assign one place in your home to place your open suitcase and carry on bag. Then as you come across items, put them in your bags.
If you are flying you may have one carry on bag plus one personal item (purse or laptop). See the TSA Guidelines if you have any questions.
Things to carry on the plane:
- Put all your travel documents in one large (8 1/2 x 11) envelope in the order you will need them. I make my envelope when I book my first item for the trip then add to it as I make more arrangements. You might have airline confirmations, then rental car, then hotel, then FGS confirmations, passport if needed, medical emergency card, an extra copy of your credit cards, passport, license, maps, etc. When it’s time to leave, you only have to make sure you have the envelope! I also put all my receipts while I travel in this envelope.
- Money belt loaded with picture ID, credit cards, some cash. You will be wearing this I hope! However, you will have to take it off and put it through the scanner to get through airport security.
- Important phone numbers if not stored in your cell phone
- Business cards
- Extra house key and or car keys
- Electronics: cell phone, camera, tape recorder if needed, laptop, netbook, tablet, or IPad. You will have to take your laptop out of its case to be scanned separately by security. Note: FGS will not allow electrical cords to outlets in the classrooms (it’s a fire hazard), so bring battery backups if you will be using your laptop to take notes. You will be able to charge up your electrical devices at the Cyber Cafe in the Exhibit Hall thanks to RootsMagic for sponsoring that.
- Chargers for electronics
- Vitamins and medications
- Sunglasses, visor, or eye mask (something to block the light when you want to sleep while in route)
- Food that travels well: If I’m taking a red-eye, I like to bring instant oatmeal and a plastic spoon. Then I ask the flight attendant for some juice, a cup of hot water, an empty cup, and when I add the water to the oatmeal, voila, instant breakfast. I also pack an assortment of trail mix, granola bars, bagels, etc. A jar of peanut butter will not make it through security. Trust me, I’ve tried it.
- A sweater or lightweight jacket: Airplanes can be cold sometimes. When I’m not using it to keep warm, it doubles as my pillow.
- Anything you can’t live without should your suitcase not arrive.
- Remember to put any liquids in 3 oz plastic containers in one clear zip-lock bag (the little ones about sandwich size). You will have to take it out of your bag to be scanned separately when you go through security.
- Remember anything sharp cannot go through security so put it in your checked luggage. This includes fingernail clippers, razor, etc.
- Genealogy research files: These are so important, I have to have them with me because I never know if I’ll see my suitcase again.
- Reading material or word puzzles or Sudoku. Something to help pass the time waiting or in transit.
- Clothes: Check the weather where you are going but plan for some extremes. Bring a light weight sweater for air conditioned rooms. I usually pack about three pairs of pants, five shirts, a skirt and nice top, underwear, pjs, earrings, necklaces, etc. This does not include the clothes I am wearing while I travel.
- Comfortable shoes plus one dressier pair
- Toiletries: Shampoo, Conditioner, Lotion, Moisturizer, Makeup, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Razor, Deodorant, Hair product, Combs, Brushes, etc. I keep a small kit all packed and ready to go. When I come home from a trip, I refill it, put it back in my suitcase, and it’s ready for the next trip.
- Extra pair of eye glasses
- Extra reading material: I like to catch up on my backlog of reading when I’m on the road.
- Extra business cards and address labels.
Finally, make copies of your travel itineraries and leave them with a friend or relative so they know how to find you.
If you forgot something, FGS will have a hospitality table to help direct you to the things you need.
What else would you include in your bags for a trip?
Do you have a favorite memory of a genealogy conference?