The FFA jacket is arguably the most iconic piece of the National FFA Organization. However, it’s not just a too-hot in the summer, too-cold in the winter staple of official dress. It is also a master of storage. Everything you need for a trip to the National FFA Convention and Expo can fit into those three sturdy pockets.
If you are one of the lucky FFA members, advisers, student teachers, or exhibitors headed to the 91st National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, buckle up, because you probably have some traveling to do. Check out the top 10 hacks you needs to know when you’re taking that rusty, old school bus several hundred miles.
1. Clear nail polish should be in your jacket
At all times, you should have a bottle of clear nail polish in that blue corduroy pocket. Nothing ruins official dress more than a run in your pantyhose. Once you see a hole forming, stop it in its tracks with a quick swipe of clear polish.
2. Stash little beauty supplies
Squirrel away hair pins, hair ties, Chapstick, maybe a concealer (if you’re so inclined). Keep them in your jacket. Do not remove them unless you need them. You probably don’t need a small can of hairspray or a comb, but a pack of oil-absorbing wipes couldn’t hurt.
3. Safety pins are a lifesaver
The amount of skirts, shirts, pants, and jackets that get roughed up on this trip every year is astounding. While there are no hard statistics to cite, ask anyone who has trekked the miles to the convention center or rode the bus overnight, and they will almost certainly know someone who has had a major wardrobe malfunction. Keep a couple of safety pins of various sizes in your inner jacket pocket. If you are extra handy, maybe keep a needle and some thread in there too.
4. Invest in arch support
It’s not a fun topic, but at the end of a long day spent hiking through the expo and lugging all of your recent purchases, those adorable flats will be revealed for what they really are: garbage. Get the inserts and be comfortable. That way, you can do it all again tomorrow without bleeding from the blisters in your shoes..
5. Learn how to change *without* taking off all of your clothes
It’s no secret that official dress is uncomfortable, but stripping down in the back of the bus or a gas station bathroom isn’t the solution either. Fortunately, wearing a skirt doesn’t have to last all day. The basics take prep work: wear a comfortable, white tank top under your white button up. That way you can fold your dress shirt nicely and not worry about being seen. The pantyhose are difficult, but you can wiggle out of them while keeping your skirt at a decent length. Then, put your jeans on while wearing the skirt. It’s tricky, but a well-timed tug of the belt loops will keep everything covered. Then slip your skirt down, fold it up, and use it as a pillow to take a nap.
6. Harness the power with a portable charger
Batteries are not infinite, but especially not in an area with poor WiFi and cement walls blocking signal. Every night, while charging your phone, also plug in a portable charger. Then, keep the portable power pack and a short cable in your pocket. Don’t use it until you need it, and only let select people know that you have it. Or, use it as a bargaining tool with other members to get a bite of their ice cream.
7. A collapsible, reusable water bottle
Hydrate or die-drate is the truest statement when you’re walking around Indianapolis (or anywhere, really). Bottles of water are expensive and unnecessary, especially when the storage ability of your official dress allows for something much easier. Save your money, and the environment, by getting a water bottle that can collapse down. Have some water when you need it, then fold the bottle and put it in your pocket. This one from Walmart is only $5.
8. Superglue to save the shoe
Imagine walking miles’ worth of convention floor. Now imagine doing it with a shoe sole that is coming apart. To avoid this, have a little tube of super glue handy for emergency situations. It can also be used as a quick fix for a pin or ripped belt loop. The possibilities are endless.
9. Hide money in your secret pocket
Seriously, put $20 in your inner pocket and forget about it. It will be a lifesaver when the bus stops at Wendy’s and you forgot your wallet in the hotel. It also makes for a fun surprise when you go to your next CDE and find $5 that you actually did forget about.
10. Snacks, snacks, snacks galore
Food can get pricey, and you want to have as much money as possible to spend on a memorabilia sweatshirt, right? Snagging the free candy from booths can only sustain you for so long, so stock up on protein-packed snacks to keep you going all day. Things like nuts, cheese, jerky, and granola are all great places to start.
That’s 10 travel tips for National FFA Convention. Coming from a seasoned veteran of the FFA and its various paths, these tips may save your life one day. If not your life, then at least your jacket.
Jessy Woodworth is a senior at The Ohio State University studying agricultural communication and animal sciences.