What Do I Pack?!

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Maybe you’re an eleventh-hour packer, praying to the taxi gods that you have time to grab that last load of laundry before the angry honking begins. Or do you have your bags out two weeks in advance, lists (only Excel files will do) perched on your desktop for easy access?

Either way, we figure you could probably use some help deciding what to bring. It’s Portland, late May, and you’re going to spend three days or so with people who photograph and write about everything they see—no pressure there!

  • Car? Don’t bother. It’s a city, which means you will pay too much for parking at your hotel or near the museum. It’s not as bad as some cities, but still. With our public transportation, unless you’re venturing out to the ocean or mountains you just won’t need it. (But if you must, we have some tips on local parking here).
  • Comfortable shoes. We’re looking at long days, and while your needs are seen to within the Art Museum buildings during the day, you will absolutely want to explore Portland in the evenings and beyond—we’ve arranged activities all over the city, and it would be a shame not to get out there and soak up all the Portland you possibly can.
  • Layers. You never really know what you’re going to get here; a zipped-up-hoodie morning could lead to a back-sweat afternoon. And sure, it could rain.
  • Maybe a little something fancy? Saturday night’s Galarama + Silent Auction is the perfect excuse to get a little glitzy, although dressing up is by no means mandatory.
  • Business cards. How many new friends will you be making? It’s a great idea to have an easy way to share your blog URL, email address, and social media handle(s). (Remember, no swag or solicitation! Let’s keep it classy and comfortable for all.)
  • Camera! As if we need to remind bloggers to bring their cameras, but still. We’re saying it out loud—and don’t forget your charger and extra SD card! (And if you’re the social media type, use #VidaVeganCon or #VVC2013 to spread the love…and make everybody jealous.)
  • Extra bag. Hey, you’re gonna be acquiring a lot of stuff—from SWAG bag goodies to cookbooks to  tourist trinkets. How many pounds of bulk Soy Curls can you stuff in those pockets?

Did we miss something? Were you at the 2011 conference? Was there anything you either were so relieved you’d brought or really wished you’d remembered?

VVC Location Scouting: Chicago

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We know January and February in Chicago can be brutal, but that’s when we had time to go and that’s when we could afford to go, so that’s when we went, and you know what, we loved it!

Michele was lucky enough to grow up there, but for Jess and Janessa, this was a first look (and feel!) of the Windy City. We packed up our boots and gloves and headed to Chi-town to see if it has what it takes to host a few hundred vegan bloggers for a weekend.

We explored…

Three days of killer public transit for $14. Nice.
Chicago: Where a surprise Native Foods just pops up on your walk downtown...

We met up with friends, old and new…

VVC Organizers Janessa, Jess & Michele, with periwinkle-capped cookbook author Kelly Peloza outside Chicago Diner: The Brunch Visit

And we ate!

Nachos at Chicago Diner
The Chicago Diner: Where friends can share a Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Milkshake!
Custom pizza at The Boiler Room: Daiya mozz, Upton's seitan bacon, fresh basil & red sauce
Whole Foods Lincon Park: Where one can shop with a glass of wine.
Intelligentsia Coffee
Hot dogs from the Whole Foods food court!
Tacos from Quesadilla La Reina del Sur

The verdict? Chicago definitely has what it takes to embrace us and keep us busy. We saw a lot of cool spaces, ate a lot of comfort food (some good, some bad, some awesome), and even found a tattoo artist who uses vegan inks.

The holdup? We’re looking to bring you an even better, more polished event for 2013 and are honestly a little nervous about holding our sophomore conference so far away. Chicago’s a little more expensive than Portland, and we have a smaller pool of friends and family to beg, borrow, and steal from. We know we can do it…but we also can’t afford to lose our day jobs. We have a bunch to talk about before making a final decision, but we’re planning for a March 15th announcement, after a couple more meetings. 

You know either way, Portland or Chicago, it’s gonna be a blast. It wouldn’t be so surprising if we went with one for 2013 and another for VVC3. So, see you somewhere May 2013!