I won’t claim to be a packing expert –– I’ve shown up in New York City in dead winter without pants before –– but after much advice and many mistakes I’m getting close to figuring out what my essentials are for attending Sundance. Here is a list of what was in my suitcase as Christopher Kahunahana and I hopped on a Delta flight to Salt Lake City, Utah:
Business Cards – I’ve spent way too much time trying to figure out something that’s memorable and, well, cool. Best advice I can give: Double-check that all of your basic information is on there like name, email address, website, and phone number. (Yes, people forget to include things like their email addresses). Do make sure your website and social media are all up to date before leaving home. People will look! Small tip: Take notes on business cards you receive to help remind yourself how to follow up, and be sure to store them somewhere safe so they don’t get lost.
Makana (Gifts) – My Hawaiian-Chinese mother has me trained never to cross the Pacific without bringing makana (gifts). If you want to bring something small to give away, I usually give out gifts that are easy for people to carry – like individually packed chocolate covered macadamia nuts. (Also, then I can snack on them like a fatty during a screening).
Winter Clothes – You don’t have to look fancy at Sundance, but you do need to stay warm. Pack a heavy winter coat, scarf, hat, and gloves. If you’re doubly worried about the weather, consider heavy boots and long underwear.
Hand Sanitizer – I’m not a germaphobe, but bring it, use it, love it. It’s the best way to not get sick, and most people do get sick.
Portable Cell Charger – Expect to be on the go morning to night. Having an easy way to keep your cell charged is important. I have a portable USB charger I take with me, but some people swear by Mophie or other cases that boost your phone.
Cash – I know, I know everything is plastic this days, but it’s helpful to have some cash on hand for emergencies or in case you want to half a taxi with a friend.
Download the App – Sundance offers a free app that includes a master schedule for the festival as well as a pretty great map of all the festival venues. It’s a lifesaver! Major tip: if you don’t have tickets to an event, you can e-waitlist using their app. You’ll still have to wait in line, but your likelihood of getting in increases drastically.
Don’t bother packing work. I threw two hard drives in my suitcase just in case I had downtime, but I knew I was fooling myself. Use your time at the festival to soak up everything it has to offer – amazing films and art, cutting edge lectures, and a host of cinephiles for you to chat with. You can always go back to real life later. Let me know if there’s anything else you think is key to bring; my suitcase will thank you!