What To Pack When You Are Going To The BEA

Y’all, I am a BEA veteran. This year will mark year three for me and so I feel fairly qualified to dole out advice to you about Book Expo America and the things you should bring with you as a blogger. Last year I brought a big-ass bag and LOL got it stuck in a subway turnstile with Jamie, who also got her big ass bag stuck in the turnstile as well which Shanyn just laughed. ALSO this isn’t like a comprehensive list of what to pack just a few tips that work for me.

Big Ass Bags

Big Ass Bags: April And Jamie style and Shanyn's little bag

NOT THIS YEAR. I am going to pack smart. And I bet you want to pack smart too!

packing for Book Expo America

Tip One: Don’t Be A Dirt Bag: but at the same time, if you don’t have room for toiletries leave them at home. I am not packing toiletries, but instead will just pick some up at Duane Read as it is easy to pick up a razor, shave cream, Dove shampoo, conditioner and soap and face wash at the store and then just throw them away at the end of the week.

Tip Two: “I’m here to help you make an impression.” You don’t need your whole wardrobe with you. Look, I get it. You want to bring dresses because you are a fucking lady. Or zombie apocalypse weapons. Or a coat. You don’t need all that. New York is hot as balls in June but at the same time, you’ll be at BEA which is a professional event with air conditioning. So what should you bring? Business casual clothing, but I’d err on the side of business. Last year my clothes were all business and professional and let me tell you, I was treated, very very well. I mean, I guess if you want to bring your jeans and go in jeans that is your prerogative, but keep in mind how you want to be seen and treated. I want to be seen as a professional when representing myself off-blog therefore I dress like it. My whole BEA wardrobe this year is going to be dresses and skirts, because I know it will get hot, plus putting on a dress takes like 3 seconds and you look so well-dressed wearing one. You’ll also want to put your best face forward and if you wear make up, don’t forget that because like me, you’ll be in a panic if you forget your foundation and cover up.

Tip Three: Comfortable shoes. Dude you have heard this tip a million times. Now, I am not suggesting pairing sneakers with a dress, because that shit looks whack, but you know, wear shoes where you won’t want to chop your feet off after standing in them all day. BEA is NOT the place to break new shoes in. What I would suggest is maybe two pairs of shoes, one pair that you are wearing, and one pair that you pack, so as to save space in your bag. I’ll be packing super cute black flats and these comfy thick soled gladiators that I just got.

Tip Four: Capture your moments! Seriously, bring a camera, you’ll be sad if you don’t get pictures with all your BFFs and pictures of authors and panels. However, on that same token, it’s also great to just live in the moment instead of out to take a picture every second.

Tip Five: Leave the books at home. Dude you are going to BEA, there’s going to be A TON OF BOOKS FOR THE TAKING AHHHHHH! That stated if you are taking transportation like a plane or a bus (HOLLA), bring an eReader, it takes less space AND you can carry it with you in line to read while you wait an hour for John Green to sign your book if you aren’t standing by your friends or by people you want to get to know. Like, personally I don’t strike up conversations with strangers in line unless it’s to complain because I am shy. I KNOW I KNOW. So last year I actually read two whole books on my kindle while waiting in lines at BEA.

Tip Six: Who the heck are you? Yo, business cards are MAD CHEAP and a wonderful investment plus you can give them to your contacts and also people who want to check your blog out. I got mine from Vistaprint and got suckered into ordering return labels and a silver engraved business card holder. That noise was less than $35 altogether. That stated, my business cards have my mailing address on them, so I can’t just give them out to every single person I meet.

Tip Seven: Hair today, gone tomorrow. For the love of god, brush your damn hair or throw it up or something. You can pack a hairbrush or buy it at the store. And if you don’t have to brush your hair, well lucky you!

Tip Eight: Backpacks aren’t just for kids and people hiking. Yo, bring a backpack on the BEA floor and your shoulders won’t get super tired.

Tip Nine: Is your phone smart and not dumb? BRING THAT. Download the BEA mobile app. Also Hop Stop. And I’d recommend that microphone recording app that already comes with it for when you sit in on panels so it makes your recap later much easier. Don’t forget to put in contact information of bloggers you want to hang out with. It’s way easier to text on the floor than call.

Tip Ten: Speaking of technology… if you have chargers and battery rechargers, don’t forget those, seriously it’s hell when your phone dies. Or your camera. You could also bring a laptop or a tablet. Personally, I am not bringing a computer at all this year because I want to unplug for my week and live my vacation to the fullest. I don’t plan on having time to write up posts or any of that.

Tip Eleven: Bring your sunglasses, cuz friends, the sun never goes down on a bad ass and you are all badass to me.

See also: How Not To Be A Douche At BEA

The following two tabs change content below.
April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I have a feeling this post is going to remain open on my laptop ALL WEEK. Thanks for breaking it down for me. I don’t know why I’m so much more nervous this year than I was last year!

  2. Oh, April, you crack me up! I think I might buy a few dresses!

  3. I am ALL OVER this post. This is going to be my first BEA ever and I am scared out of my mind. I’ve been to romance-writer book conferences for three years but BEA seems to be way bigger than that.

    I also got some lovely lovely business cards from Staples.

    I put everything in my Blackberry, am buying a roaming charges data plan and for the first time, I *am* bringing a laptop to write on during the flight (although i will be backing everything up first).

    • You’ll do fine at BEA. It’s really not that bad. 🙂

      Yay for business cards and BBs. That’s a good idea doing writing on the flight and backing your data up.

  4. This was very helpful! I’m headed to BEA for the first time and beyond excited (debut author). Stop by and see me at the Sourcebooks booth on Wednesday (10 to 11)–because I have these visions of not a soul caring that my book is there! Oh, also, there’s lots of wine drinking in my book (and, um, my life) so that might appeal. Seriously, thank you for the advice!

  5. This will be my first BEA trip so I’m pretty excited (don’t worry, I read you How Not To Be A Douche At BEA post, so I’m leaving the Massengill attitude at the door), so I’m grateful for all the advice I can wring out of BEA experts. 😉

    I have a bunch of business cards, some that I ordered off Moo without my address, but then I won a whole bunch off Uprinting that I had my address added to, so I think I’m all set. Mostly I’m worried about shoes. I think I’m going to pay the money to park my rolling suitcase and then just add books to it if my tote bag gets full. So much to work out still!

    • AHAHAHA as long as you know I’m totally being tongue in cheek.

      Business cards are the best.

      And dude, the checking for the rolling suitcase is SO cheap and worth it, like it’s $3 or $5 which is not that bad to be able to dump your things.

  6. Great post! I so cannot wait for year 2 of my BEA exposure and if I see someone reading in line next to me, I’ll start a convo!

    Good luck this year! Have an amazing BEA.

  7. I actually just got back from shopping because one day I have a breakfast, cocktail party, and then my bro (an event planner in the city) is taking me to this huge event in Central Park. I was freaking the hell out trying to figure out an outfit versatile enough for all. And I did! So pumped.

    And I bought a pair of really cute Sperry top siders about a month ago and have planned all my outfits accordingly. They all go (well enough), and then I can toss on other shoes for events. Hell to the yeah. I’m ready. 🙂

    • That’s really cool that your brother is an event planner and is taking you to a cool event. And yay versatility.

      Top siders are sooooo adorable.

      Yay for being ready!

  8. April, I am SO grateful that you made this post. I realize that I’m just commuting from home which makes my life substantially easier, but I’m still really stressed about what to wear/what to bring during the day. And I’m like you, I’m totally shy, so I like the idea of bringing the Kindle to read in line. I think it’s funny how many of us that are pretty open and friendly online are extreme introverts in real life. I don’t have business cards though. I know I should, but I’m going to this event more as a librarian than as a blogger, and I felt weird about mixing the two on a business card at a professional event. Also honestly I’m so poor atm that $35 is a lot to me. I may regret it, but whatever, there’s always next year.

    • That is nice, being able to commute. Dude I hope I see you maybe we can just wave our kindles at each other or something.

      Also? Yay for finding $4 business cards!!

  9. You crack me up. I love you for this post. I will definitely be rocking the dresses this year, they take up so much less space and I’m coming to BEA all in a carry on 🙂

  10. Great advice, April! This will be my first year going, and I’m getting nervous! I hope to see you there!!

  11. 🙂 Very good advice! before today I was not sure about what clothes to wear to BEA. So thanks! I hope you have fun at the conference!

  12. i’m a total BEA noob but i’m packing a flask, my comfy sneaks, and my cape. you’ll spot me instantly.

  13. I’m not going to BEA, but this post had be cracking up. I think my favorite was brush your hair because sometimes I think that about people when I go throughout my everyday life. LIKE HOW HARD IS GROOMING?! Okay, enough about that. Look forward to your post-BEA recap 🙂

    • Word. I don’t understand why grooming is such a challenge. I mean okay it takes me like 5 seconds to run a brush through my hair and throw it up in a sleek ponytail before leaving the house.

      I am sure my post BEA recap will be full of cocktails, books and fangirling super duper hard.

  14. I need to go shopping!!!! Great post! Can’t wait to see you!!!!

  15. This is THE BEST tips post I’ve read for BEA yet. And..I love that you say to dress somewhat business-like. That’s how I was planning on dressing, but I’ve seen a lot of bloggers saying to dress casual…

    Is the ‘brush your hair’ tip necessary?? lol

  16. Thanks for the tips April! This will be my first time at BEA and I’m super pumped, super excited, and super nervous. If I spot you reading in line I’m totally interrupting you to talk :).

    So, are you taking a small carry-on type bag then? I’m going for 7 days and I hate dresses, I just don’t see myself being able to pack in a carry on but I can try!!!

  17. I’m using some of these for when I go to ALA next month. Not the same, but still… 🙂

  18. I’d heard not to bring a backpack, but I thought that sounded like an excellent idea and was planning to do it anyway. Thank goodness I won’t be the only one. *high fives*

    Dresses ARE so easy to put on. They’re pretty much the best.

  19. NY will be MAD HOT that week. We’re already dying, and the meltiness isn’t supposed to start just yet.
    SO JEALOUS that you’re going to BEA. wantwantwant. Maybe I’ll go after hours and stand outside to stalk authors who want to just get the heck out of there and return to their hotel rooms…

  20. Did you know BEA has a service in the basement where they’ll ship your huge piles of books home for you so you don’t have to carry them around? Best service ever!

    • Yeah, this is my third year going to BEA. Personally, I’d rather just walk my books to the post office and pay 15$ to ship them as opposed to 50$ or more.

  21. Great advice! I wish I were going to BEA, maybe I can make it happen next year!

  22. All this BEA talk makes me really want to go next year! I hope you have a great time!

  23. This is so helpful! Thanks for linking it again this year. My biggest question is about getting books home. Do most people just mail them? I am taking the train in so was considering bringing an empty suitcase to lug them back, but now I’m thinking that might get extremely heavy and cumbersome.