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Be sure to check out my other great posts about planning your trip to the Tucson Gem Show here!
There are a few items that I have found it helpful to pack when coming to Tucson for the Tucson Gem Show that one might not think of in the normal list of things that one brings on a trip, and I thought that it would be helpful if I made a list of my need to have items when attending the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show:
Hand Held Luggage Scale: Oversized bag fees are a real bummer when you aren’t expecting them, and stones get heavy very quickly. Bring a luggage scale with so that you can check the weight of your bags BEFORE you get to the airport. This way, if you are just a few pounds over, extra items can go in your carry on or be shipped.
Calculator: Helpful to calculate the price per item of wholesale orders bought in bulk or to do a quick check of a dealers math if something seems off.
USPS Flat Rate Boxes: There are shipping stations at many of the larger shows that can help you ship your items (they usually take a cut themselves). If you just a have a few extra items and are looking for a more economical way to get them home, consider bringing a few extra USPS flat rate boxes with you.
They are free at any post office and they cost the same to ship regardless of the weight. If you can’t get to a post office to ship them, you can print labels online at your hotel and put them in the mail there.
Cheap, thrift store blankets: Pack some cheap, thrift store blankets over in your suitcases. Stones are heavy, and you will reach the airline weight limit well before the suitcase is full. The blankets help to fill up the extra space and pad things so HOPEFULLY nothing breaks (I carried the most breakable items with me in my carry on.) You clothing can be used in a similar manner, but having a few cheap blankets with you can be immensely helpful in case more padding is needed (and you didn’t pay very much for them, so you can leave them if they are not needed.)
Duct Tape: A roll of duct tape can be very useful for strapping around you heavy, over stuffed suitcases to make sure that they don’t break open. Also, breakable stones can be wrapped with a few layers of paper towel and the bundle can be wrapped in duct tape to keep them secure (it can also be used to reinforce any boxes that you are shipping back.)
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Rolling Bag or folding luggage cart: Stones get heavy awfully quickly. Even if you are just buying a few items and you think they feel ok in your backpack at the beginning of the day, by the end of the day those few stones will be taking a toll on your shoulders (and I can almost GUARANTEE that you will have more than just a few stones!)
Bring a rolling suitcase that you don’t mind getting beat up a little bit-between the weight of the stones and going up and down curbs and over gravel all day, your rolling bag will take a beating. Your local thrift store can be a great place to find cheap luggage!
Bottled Water or a Water Bottle: Tuscon is a dry desert climate and you will need water soon after arriving. Make sure you bring a water bottle with. If you prefer bottled water, check a flat of bottled water over in your carry on luggage (1-2 bottles per person/day). You will consume it while you are at the gem show and having the extra space will ensure that you have the maximum amount of space available for all of those great finds you are going to bring back.
While you are at it, pack a bottle or two of wine in your suitcase and some chocolate (wine double wrapped in plastic bags, of course) and a corkscrew. You will need it after a long day of walking around at the gem show!
Notebook and Pen: You probably already figured this one out…make sure t bring a notebook and pen to make notes about the location of interesting items and their prices for comparison later. If you read my previous article, I recommend that first timers not purchase anything on the first day until you have been around a little bit to compare prices…this will help you keep track of what you saw so you can go back to it later.
Zip Lock Baggies and a Sharpie Marker: Extremely helpful for keeping your stones separated and secure (and for labeling them so that you can remember what you bought later!) Some vendors might not have bags, or you might be given one bag and want to separate different kinds of stones.
As a bonus, you can also use the extra baggies to scavenge some fruit or bread for sandwiches from your hotels continental breakfast and take them with you!
Hand Sanitizer: Two reasons-digging through boxes of stones can get dusty and this is a quick way to make your hands feel fresh again. Also, there is a distinct possibility that you might be using bathrooms and porta potties during gem show that are less then clean…enough said.
Toilet Paper: Toilet can be a hard commodity to come by in the over worked and under cared for bathrooms and porta potties at gem show, so it is handy to carry some of your own.
Business Cards: Gem show is a great networking opportunity and you should bring some business cards with to share your contact info with the new friends that you will meet. Also, make sure to collect business cards from any vendors that you want to connect with after the show.
Business Licence or Tax ID Number: Different shows have different requirements for documentation to give you your badge for wholesale pricing. In most cases, if you have a copy of your business licence and/or tax ID certificate and a business card, this is enough to get you a wholesale buyers badge. AND if one person in your group has documentation, they can often register multiple people under their business.
For more ideas about packing for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, check out these other blogs:
Do you have any recommendations for things that have come in handy at the gem show?