Monday, April 13, 2009

Science of Wardrobe Management II: Excel's Real Use

So you've decided to leave the belly shirts and bustiers at home during EB or other scientific endeavors. Is there a way to get 5 days of clothing in a carry-on bag?

If I said "No," this would be a really short blog, so there must be! The secret is Excel. Yup, packing is the ultimate spread-sheet chore.

First, create something like this for your meeting or event:

There is a column for each day you will travel, a field for notable events on that day, and areas for the outfit, including shoes. The most important way to conserve space is to pack items that work on multiple days. This statement is especially true for shoes which take up a lot of suitcase landscape! In general, a pair that you can sprint through airports in (on your feet) and one other (in the case) can be done in an overhead bin bag. If you need more than those two pair you will likely end up checking a bigger bag. Speaking of airport shoes, be sure you can get them on and off easily! While comfort and movement are important, elaborate shoes that stall the security line may earn you more enemies than a crying baby. Just imagine being behind someone who has to remove mid-thigh lace-up boots. You get the idea now, huh?

Clothing can also multitask. Unless you are a nobel laureate in neurosciences at a really casual meeting (see prior post, Basics), you probably need a suit or some similar wardrobe item. Pair the jacket with coordinating pants or skirt one day and wear the full suit another. It's like 2 different outfits, but only 1 jacket! Be sure all your outfits have a jacket or cardigan planned - no matter what the weather is like outside, the convention center rooms are usually freezing. If not, you can always remove it.

There are a number of strategies for getting stuff in the suitcase. I like to take longer items like trousers and dresses and lay them lengthwise in the case first. Other stuff then gets packed, and the longer items wrap around the other stuff. This prevents creases in things that are longer than the suitcase.

Don't forget to throw in an extra shirt and a pair of jeans. Even if disaster happens in the way of a bloody mary down the suit jacket on it's first wear, at least you will have something to schlep about in while the hotel cleaning service gets your suit done up. It's also our job to stimulate the local economy while we are at a meeting (that's why cities build convention centers). As long as I get there with my presentation and a credit card, I know I can survive!

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