By Molly Fast
As people who put on events for a living, it’s so important that we carry the right tools, equipment and supplies with us, am I right? We think about things like zip ties and toilet paper. Don’t even think about forgetting the gas for the generator or those AAA batteries you only need once a year. But before we even get on event, we need to make sure that we pack the right things so we can be functional and successful while staffing events. While I could go on and on, I’m going to leave you with a list of the 10 items you can’t forget to put in your own event luggage:
1) The right size suitcase! Over the years I’ve learned some things. Like trying to cram all of my things into a carry-on usually ensures that I’ve forgotten something pretty important. If you’re going away for a couple of days, you can probably get away with a carry-on. But if you’re going to be gone for a week or more, don’t try and be a packing warrior – just go for the larger suitcase to make sure you don’t forget important things like pajamas.
2) Proper footwear! Listen. I like my flip flops just as much as the next person but we can all agree that open-toed anything isn’t right for your on event work. My flip flops only come out when I’m not on site and usually after the end of a very long work day. For working events, I always make sure I have comfortable sneakers that I don’t mind getting dirty. And if rain is in the forecast, I bring rain boots. There’s nothing worse than having wet feet, especially when it can be avoided. (Once I had to use plastic garbage bags and zip ties for makeshift rain boots. While I was proud of my creativity, I’ve since learned that being prepared is So Much Better.)
3) Socks. Bring 1 – 2 more pairs than you were already planning on bringing. You never know when weather may dictate that you need to swap them out. And trust me, it’s a total drag if you don’t have them. As an aside, socks are a fun way to dress up any work uniform. You wouldn’t catch me wearing plain socks unless I’m working out. I always use my socks as a way to kick things up a notch! (Blue Q is a fun/sassy option and Old Navy has fun and cheap options too, which is great because you may end up having to throw some away!)
4) Gloves. These have been a game-changer for me while working on event because I don’t need to worry about breaking nails (although, of course, that still happens) or scuffing up my hands. I know it’s all in my head, but they make me feel way more prepared to be on event. I have these, but really any kind will do the trick.
5) Headlamp. We work all hours of the day and night. If I’m lucky, most of my time is in the daylight hours. But not all of it is. In fact, when I’m working on event, some of my busiest moments are when it’s still dark out – both before the sun rises and loooooooong after the sun has set. Light towers are great and all, but they don’t get full coverage and I need to see what I’m doing. I took the lead from two of my friendly co-workers, Tifani and Val, and purchased my own a couple of years ago. It’s so helpful to have the use of both of my hands and see – go figure!
6) Hand sanitizer and lotion. I’m never not surprised by how quickly I can get so dirty while working on event even with the gloves I couldn’t stop raving about above. And because I can go from working behind the scenes to interacting with participants or the client in a matter of minutes, I make sure to have a quick and easy way to wash my hands readily available. The lotion isn’t for everyone, but I do find my hands dry out really easily and I like to pretend I’m getting a little bit of pampering by smearing some of that on my hands every now and again.
7) Proper sun coverage. I’m a pale Irish lassie who can get sunburnt just thinking of being out in the sun. If out on event, you can find me with sunscreen and a visor. I often get looks from my co-workers when it’s 92° and 100% humidity and I’ve got long sleeves on. But I’d rather be hot than deal with a sunburn. And listen, even if it’s cloudy, you can still get sunburnt. Watch out for yourself and your co-workers and always make sure you have a way to cover yourself!
8) Water bottle. While you’re likely surrounded by water – hey, you are on event – it doesn’t always mean you will actually drink it. Having a water bottle increases the chances that you’ll consume the water you put in it. (I did not compile any factual data to support this statement. I truly believe it from personal experience!) I’ve seen co-workers fall to the sidelines because of dehydration and it’s just no bueno. Pack a water bottle, fill it up, drink your water and be happy!
9) Workout clothes. As event professionals, we don’t always have the time to work out. But when we do, we should try and take that moment for ourselves. Taking care of myself is something that I’ve really tried to prioritize while traveling for work and especially when staffing an event for several days at a time. Sure, we all get in plenty of steps and lift/move tons of stuff on event, but it’s different when you’re taking the time to hit the hotel gym or explore your surroundings with an intentional workout. I’m a big fan of learning new cities by finding secret stair walks (holy cow Seattle!) and using the opportunity to catch-up with my co-workers at the same time. But more than anything, I’m better equipped for work when I take better care of myself.
10) A good attitude. While this won’t take up any space in your luggage, it’s important to show up on event with a good attitude ready to work with a smile on your face. The energy and attitude you bring to the event makes a world of difference and can impact everyone around you. If you need to take a time out to get your head back in the game, do it. Working events can be hard. The hours are long, the work can be challenging (and fun!) and being constantly “on” is draining for sure. So be mindful of how you’re preparing for the work ahead and make it a point to smile and consciously bring the best of yourself to each event you’re on. I promise you, and those around you, will be better off for it!
Outlining just 10 items to bring on event was a challenge. And I have no doubt that each person’s list will vary. I’ve left out some of the more obvious things (like a staff uniform, staff badge, computer, cell phone, charging equipment, etc.), but we all have our favorites, and items we absolutely must pack in our event bag!
Molly Fast co-leads the company’s local operations for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day series and is privileged to work with Event 360’s participant-facing team. For over a decade, Molly has been fortunate enough to combine her love of people with the ability to make a difference in the work she does focusing on exceeding expectations and delighting participants along the way. When not roaming around Ireland, Molly can be found taking photos or talking to strangers in Santa Monica where she lives with her husband and their black lab, Clancy. You can find Molly on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and her favorite social media tool, Instagram.