6 Tips for Conference Travel

6 Tips for Conference Travel

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A conferencing we will go! Traveling to conferences is a different animal from vacations, and a few little tricks up your sleeve can make all the difference!

It’s been a little crazy these past couple weeks! I hit two conferences in just over a week (one of which was local, fortunatley). It was a whirlwind of learning and networking. Fun? Oh, yeah. Exhausting? Oh, yeah.

Throughout my conferencing years, there are a few little random things I learned (or reinforced) along the way, that I thought I would share to help you with your conferencing as well.

1. Bring Power and a Backup

Conferencing is a drain on your electronics. It’s constantly checking times of events, sharing information with one another, looking up that really cool person you just met, etc.

I was also live blogging and video casting from these two conferences. Which means that ensuring all my devices had power was crucial and that power is at a premium. You can’t always count on there being a plug or power-source nearby, so you need to make sure you have a source of power when you need it.

I have a short extension cord that lives in my laptop bag and power cords for all my portable devices. I make sure to charge everything at night and bring the cables with me just in case.

I also have a powerful portable charger with me. It’s able to charge multiple devices fully and has saved me a number of times.

2. A Rolling Laptop Bag (or Suitcase) Will Save Your Back

I have a rolling laptop bag with a telescoping handle. I have to admit, it was a little cumbersome to cart around everywhere, but it was better than a migraine and a backache. (Definitely a buzz killers for socializing and working.)

If you don’t have a ton of stuff to carry around, then maybe this is excessive for you, but when you have to keep a bunch of stuff on your for presenting, it’s a life saver.

Even if you don’t need a full on rolling laptop bag, still ensure that you are carrying something with you that’s large enough to keep papers nicely in. Many boots and presenters will have paper packets and handouts for you. To keep track of the ones you’re interested, you’ll want to make sure you have some place to put them.

3. Comfortable Earphones Ease the Pain

For some reason, I have some smallish ears, so regular earphones just plain hurt after about 30 minutes. Lucky for me someone recommended the JVC Marshmallow headphones.  They are way cool, as the earpiece is made of memory foam. They also block a fair amount of airplane and hallway noise. They are absolutely crucial for not only entertainment when traveling, but helping you take calls in noisy areas.

4. A “Capture Tool” Handy at all Times

You never know when inspiration will strike, and conferences seem like especially inspirational times. So make sure you have an easy way to capture these ideas no matter when they strike.

For me, I’m still a fan of traditionally writing things down. I have a notebook in my bag at all times. The plane trip home was a great opportunity to do a brain dump, so I grabbed my notebook, put in my headphones and wrote some furious notes!

For other people, however, capturing their ideas may be pulling out their laptop and typing up a few notes, taking a picture with their phone, or even sending a text to themselves. Whatever you prefer, just make sure you have a way to capture notes and ideas that you like.

5. Snack, Snacks, and More Snacks

I’ve been to a couple conferences that rocked the food department, but I’ve been to many, many more that failed miserable. It’s cheap, overprices, tasteless food that I only ate because I was desperate.

Conferences can get busy, and not everyone will have the time to head out for lunch and dinner. So, you’ll want to make sure you have something tasty on yourself.

Don’t forget something to drink too. Unless you like buying $8 dollar bottles of water.

6. Pack Your Sense of Humor

My trip to a recent expo started with an hour shuttle ride plus another hour schlepping my luggage around the wrong conference center. I also had some pretty serious hotel issues (hotel’s fault, grrr) that kept my room a distant dream until late into the night.  Good think I packed my sense of humor and my comfy shoes.

What do you bring on your business trips? Share with us in the comments below.