CES Packing Guide

Our annual trip to CES is fast approaching, so I’m starting to think about packing. The first two years I made the mistake of bringing too much of the wrong things and not enough of the right things. I’ve created this packing guide to help augment what you already know you need to bring (e.g., you’re responsible for knowing whether you need underwear).

The goal for CES packing is to take as little as possible. You don’t want to pay for checked bags if you don’t have to, and carrying around unnecessary weight is a pain.

Things you should absolutely bring

  • Cash for tips. Relying on local ATMs can result in unwanted service fees and/or limited availability.
  • Business cards
  • Medical insurance card. There is a 99.9% chance nothing will require a doctor or hospital visit, but if it does, having your card on you prevents your claims from being immediately denied.
  • Sunglasses. It’s really bright; rely on the available options for sale at your peril.
  • Stain wipes. Don’t waste time going back to your hotel to change in case of a spill.
  • Chargers for your devices
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Comfort insoles to stuff inside your shoes after Day 1
  • Plastic vials of eye drops. Between the desert air and the air conditioning, your eyes will dry out quickly. Bottles of eye drops are unsanitary; if you do develop an eye infection you’ll just reinfect yourself. You can buy these at drugstores in Las Vegas, but they usually come in boxes of 50+, which is overkill.
  • Lip balm. Again, you’re in a desert, and your lips will get dry. This is not good for networking.
  • Over the Counter medicine (aspirin, antacids, etc.). These tend to be more expensive in Las Vegas, and you don’t want to risk that they’re out of whatever you need.
  • Pen and paper. It’s counterintuitive, but useful if your device dies or you can’t get service and need to make notes or take names.

Things you should buy

Hit the closest CVS or Walgreen’s once you get to Las Vegas, because these items are the same price as wherever it is you’re traveling from and not having to carry them will lighten your load.

Walgreen’s: 3025 South Las Vegas Boulevard

CVS: 2700 South Las Vegas Boulevard

CVS: 3758 South Las Vegas Boulevard

  • Lotion. To recap, you’re in a desert. It’s dry, you’re using gallons of hand sanitizer, and you will need some lotion badly.
  • Gum, mints, and/or breath strips
  • Bandages (e.g., Band-Aids)
  • First aid items only if you end up needing them. Hopefully you won’t, and you don’t want to be the person (as I have been) re-packing thermal patches and ice packs for the flight home.
  • Cough drops
  • Instant oatmeal or cereal. Usually can be prepared in your room by using the tea setting of your coffee maker (if you don’t have a microwave). This will save you at least $10 a day, plus waiting time in breakfast lines.
  • Power bars. Good for if you don’t have time for lunch.
  • Bottled water. Cheaper at the drugstore than at the venues. Can be refilled at drinking fountains.

Things you should use from the hotel

Depending on where you’re staying, you won’t need to bring any of the following items. I used to make sure I had my shampoo and my conditioner because I couldn’t possibly go to CES with bad hair. I didn’t account for the fact that since I don’t live in a desert year-round, my hair would act differently anyway. Bring your hair styling products only; they can hold down the fort for the week.

Generally these products will either be in your room when you check in or can be requested from the front desk:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Lotion (available at local drugstores if there isn’t any or if it’s not to your liking)
  • Comb
  • Mouthwash
  • Tissue
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste

Things you should leave at home

These are things that I or others have brought in the past that were wastes of space. The part of you that’s thorough and organized will insist that these are necessary because you might need them. Respectfully, that part of you is wrong.

  • Mirrors. Las Vegas is full of mirrors. Between your hotel and the venues, you will never be left wanting for reflective surfaces with which to check, adjust, and observe yourself.
  • Work-out clothes & gym shoes. You’re not going to have the time or desire for devoted work-out time. You’ll also be walking about 300 miles a day.
  • Umbrella. It is not going to rain while you’re there. If it does, you can wait it out inside with a coffee or a drink.
  • Hair dryer. Use the hotel’s.
  • Anything that “makes you feel at home.” You’re not at home. You’re in Las Vegas, at CES. Embrace that and leave the scented candles, ergonomic keyboard, lucky travel mug, or whatever else weighs you down at home. They’ll be there when you get back.

For additional CES tips, check out my previous posts “10 Tips for CES Attendees” and “10 Tips for CES Exhibitors.”

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