{BEA 2016} Tips & Tricks: What To Bring, What To Put In Your Backpack, and More

We Can't Wait for BEA

This is our fifth trip to BEA, and our first one in Chicago! Even though we’ve been several times now, we learn something new each year and figure out ways to make the next trip an even bigger success. Because we love you, we are going to use the next few weeks leading up to our BEA departure to share some of our favorite tips, tricks, planning ideas, and more.

Today is all about our tips and tricks! Hopefully it will help all of you who are going for the first time, or maybe even those who just want to see how someone else preps for their trip. Today we’re talking about what to bring, what pack in your backpack for the expo, and what to do before you head to Chicago.

Ready to get started? Here we go…


What To Bring

  • POWER STRIP – There are four of us that stay together in one room. We’re all bloggers. That means we need lots of things that plug in. Hotels aren’t ready for our amount of electronics, so we bring power strips with us. This lets us plug in phones, portable charges, laptops, hairdryers, cameras, hair straighteners, etc. It also prevents us from shoving each other out of the way to get the “good plug”… you wouldn’t want us fighting over plugs would you?
  • SPECIAL BOOKS – Every year we look through the list of authors attending events we will be at and those that will be at BEA and come up with a list of books we want to bring from home. Sometimes it’s for an author we’ve been dying to meet and we want ALL THE THINGS signed. Sometimes we just have that one edition that hasn’t been signed yet and so we bring that with us. We try to limit these to only the essentials, but sometimes that’s hard to do.
  • A ROLLING SUITCASE – This is the best thing ever. You are allowed to check a bag at the front of the convention center for $3/day. Which means that between signings and book drops, etc. you can run out to your bag and drop things off so you’re not stuck lugging 100 lbs of books around the entire day. If you take no other tip from our list, take this one.
  • NICE CLOTHES & COMFY SHOES– You want to be comfortable, but you also want to look professional. Layers are always a good idea. Sometimes you will need an outfit that can be worn during the day and then to a cocktail party at night. Or you can do what we do and pack a change of clothes in your rolling suitcase. We are nothing if not practical. Now, about those shoes. You are standing practically ALL day and walking around and you seriously don’t want to be stuck in a pair of uncomfortable shoes or you’ll pay the price at the end of the day. Everyone says this, no really EVERYONE, but we can’t stress enough how important it is. We are in awe of the women in heels every single year.
  • BUSINESS CARDS – We can’t stress how much you will use these. It’s the easiest way to get publishers your information BUT it’s also an amazing way to connect with other bloggers! You’re going to have so much going on that it’s easy to forget who you talked to or what their info is. By providing a business card you can reconnect once you get home. You can order them through places like MOO, but Vistaprint also has a much less pricey version if you don’t want to spend a bunch of money!

What To Pack In Your Backpack

Each day we carry a backpack with us to the convention center. It has all the essentials in it for the day. Want to know what’s inside? Here’s a quick rundown:

  • SNACKS/WATER BOTTLE (food is pricey inside the convention center!)
  • A BOOKISH TOTE (you’re going to have A LOT of books and you won’t want to carry them!)
  • BAND-AIDS/BLISTER-PADS (even the comfy shoes don’t prevent the use of these!)
  • PORTABLE PHONE CHARGER (conventions are bad for your battery!)

You’re There. Now What?

  • MAKE A PLAN – This is one of the most important things you can do for yourself to make sure that your trip is less stressful. There is so much going on during BEA. Signings at the autograph tables, signings in the booths, galley drops, meetings, panels, and parties. You need to be organized so that you don’t miss anything that is important to you. It’s also important to remember to be flexible. There are times when we plan something and then find out it’s canceled. As long as you back-up your back-up plan you will be good to go.
  • GET EVERYWHERE EARLY – The thing that you will do the most at BEA is wait. Lines, lines, lines. They are everywhere. Be prepared to get in lines early, especially for authors that everyone is dying to see. We have lined up hours before certain events to make sure we are toward the front of the line.
  • BE SELECTIVE – There are books everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you have to pick them all up. Don’t be afraid to say no or to walk away without taking a copy of every galley or finished copy you see. We learned this lesson the hard way. The first year we went we were a little overwhelmed and majorly book crazy. We grabbed everything we could get our hands on. The problem is that most of the things we took we didn’t read so then we had to figure out a plan for them. The last couple of years we have been much more selective which makes it easier to get everything home and carry around NYC.
  • MAKE FRIENDS – We obviously love it when we get to stand in lines together, but it doesn’t happen as often as you would think. Even with four of us. One of the great parts about being in lines is that you are surrounded by fellow books lovers. Take the time to say hello to your neighbors, let them know if you are saving a spot from a friend and offer to hold their spot if they need a potty break. It’s not only the right thing to do, but sometimes it can result in meeting someone awesome that you will see year after year.
  • EXPLORE CHICAGO – We love everything BEA related, but we also love being tourists. The first couple of years that we went we did not make time to do anything that wasn’t for BEA, last year we changed that and it was amazing. We stayed a couple of extra days and did boat tours, ate delicious local food, and even visited a few bookstore we’d been dying to see. (Because we hadn’t had enough books yet!) We’ll be giving more tips on this next week!
  • USE UBER – The first couple of years we went we had the hardest time getting a cab. We just weren’t good at it. We literally stood around for 45 minutes one time trying to figure out how the hell to get one to stop. We’ve gotten better, but we also discovered UBER. If you don’t want to bother catching a cab, you can download the UBER app and plug in where you are and where you want to go. It is easy to use and a lifesaver for us.

Have you been to BEA before? Is this your first year? Let us know what tips you would add to our list or if there is something that we didn’t answer that you want to know about before you go! Stay tuned next week when we talk all about Chicago and things to eat, see, and do at BEA 2016.

OMG Let's Totally Talk About It...


Want to include a link to one of your blog posts below your comment? Enter your URL in the website field, then click the button below to get started.