*sings* It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
No, not Christmas.
It’s YALC season.
YALC (the UK’s Young Adult Literature Convention) is in two days, which means (if you’re anything like me) you’ll be doing some last minute packing tonight, and trying to decide which outfit will help you melt less in the heat.
So I thought, instead of doing a guide to YALC this year, I’d share a last minute packing checklist to help you ensure you’ve got everything you need for the big weekend.
This is at the top of the list because it’s going to be a warm one pals. Friday is predicted to be 27°C, Saturday 24°C, and Sunday 23°C.
This is slightly cooler than last year (thank you universe), but it’ll still be warm inside the convention centre with lots of people, so make sure to bring at least one water bottle.
Top tip: Instead of buying more bottles once you’ve run out, ask the cafe staff on the YALC floor if they can refill your bottle. They’ve been asked to do this for free by the venue organisers in previous years, so hopefully the same should hold true this year. There should also be a few water coolers around the floor again this year, so take advantage of those.
No, not the human kind. The whirring kind. It’s going to be a warm one and the air con in the convention centre isn’t always that great, so if you’re someone who gets hot easily, bring a fan or fashion one out of card/leaflets/your shoe.
There is a cafe on the YALC floor but it can be expensive, depending on what you’re after, and if you have specific dietary requirements (like me!) then you might not find what you’re after. There’s a Tesco across the road from the centre, but they sometimes sell out of on-the-go food, so bringing your own snacks is a good option unless you’re happy to wing it.
Top tip: Avoid chocolate or chocolatey snacks if possible, as there’s a good chance they’ll melt!
You’ll be walking around a lot over the weekend, especially if you’re at YALC for all three days, so go for maximum comfort when you pick your shoes. Sadly, there’s not a lot of seating in the venue, and you might be standing in signing queues for a while, so shoes that are more like slippers are your best option.
(If you can last the entire weekend in heels, I’d be incredibly impressed. You’d be the shoe deity.)
Plasters and pain killers
If your shoes do end up rubbing (noooo), you’re going to want to have plenty of plasters on hand. They’re not that easy to get hold of at the venue, so bringing them with you in advance is the best plan.
Pain killers, too, are good to have on hand in case of any aches and pains.
Whenever I go away, I always pack extra underwear and socks. (Is this just me or do other people do this too???) Keep them in your backpack too, and then if you accidentally step in a puddle on the way to the convention centre, you’re all good, you’ve got your spare socks. If you accidentally have an accident because you met your favourite author and it was everything you dreamed of, you’re good, you’ve got your spare underwear. It’s a fool-proof system.
Top tip: Taking an extra outfit or two is also a good option in case you get sweaty, or want to change before you go straight out for an evening meal.
As wild as this one sounds, since it’s been so hot this week, it’s actually meant to rain on Saturday. Make sure you pack an umbrella so you can keep yourself (and your books of course) dry en route to Olympia.
Schedules for each day and the floor plan
Having print out copies of the daily schedules and floor plan (if you can read it) is always a good way to keep track of what’s happening and when. If like me, you like to have a rough plan of your weekend, you can highlight the panels and signings you want to go to.
This is an important one: make sure to bring cash! Not every stall accepts card, and you don’t want to have to leave the convention centre to go hunting for a free ATM. If you have an allocation of cash for each day, you should be covered for all eventualities.
Top tip: Use your card on the stalls that accept it and keep your cash for those that don’t!
A hairbrush and bobbles
I always find that the walk from where I’m staying to Olympia manages to mess my hair up. Every. single. time. So I make sure to take my hairbrush in my backpack in case of emergencies. Gotta keep that fringe smooth. Bobbles are also a good idea if you like to tie your hair up when it’s hot.
Spare tote bags
Although in previous years publishers at YALC have given out free bags by the dozen, they were doing this less last year. I’m not sure what the tote bad situation will be this year, so it’s a good idea to bring extras in case you need more space for all those books you’ve picked up.
I don’t normally carry wipes round with me, but they’re a godsend for the convention. Picture this: you’ve just replenished your energy reserves with a nice wrap (falafel, chipotle, and houmous, good choice you). You’re ready to go to your next panel but your fingers are sticky. You need to go to the toilet to wash your hands, but you can’t pick up your books because YOU DON’T WANT TO GET THEM STICKY. The solution: baby wipes.
No, no, I don’t mean the books you’re going to get signed, that’s a given. Bring books that you’re looking to get rid of. There’s a book swap shop at the BKMRK chill out zone where you can drop off books you’re looking to unhaul and pick up a few new ones if there’s anything you fancy. It’s free, too.
Top tip: People sometimes leave ARCs and other gems at the swap shop, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
If you’ve got business cards definitely remember to pack them. You can share your blog/art/YouTube channel with others without having to write your details down, and it’s a great thing to be able to give to publishers to get your name out there.
If you don’t have business cards, then a notebook will definitely come in handy if you want to jot down someone’s social media or blog details. It’s also good if you want to ask authors for a signature but don’t have their book/already have all their books signed.
A portable battery power pack
I know not everyone has one of these (I actually don’t), but if you do then definitely pack it. There aren’t many plug sockets available for use in the convention centre, so if you’ve got a phone that likes to die, your portable charging pack is going to come in really handy.
Your Waterstones card
The Waterstones section of YALC is a great place to pick up new books, and as far as I remember, they accept points cards. So make sure you don’t miss out on all those extra points by leaving your card at home – put it in your purse.
I think that’s just about everything on my list of last-minute things to pack. Hopefully it’s jogged your memory if you’ve forgotten anything. For all of you that are going to YALC, I’m looking seeing you!
Are you going to YALC this year? Is there anything else that you think is a must-bring item? Let me know!