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I am leaving for Washington DC tomorrow for a conference for work. I kinda forgot too. I go to my fair share of conferences each year. This one snuck up on me, but that is fine. Things have been busy and my mind has been on other things.
The thing about conferences is after 10 or so, you sort of have the routine down. I have a good idea of the things I have to pack and what I need. I thought I would share some of my conference necessities, no matter the conference, these are the things that help me get through a long week or so of networking and learning.
Top 12 Conference Items
- Hand sanitizer (health needs) – Conferences are for meeting people, hunderds or thousands of people. After a lot of conferences, everyone is sick. New people from all over the country have all kinds of nice germs that you can’t fight off because you are out of whack, overtired and constantly exposed. A small, pen sized hand sanitizer, like Purell Spray Pen should do the trick. Just a little spray here and there can help and you don’t feel like a weirdo lugging around a jug of Purell.
- Airborne (health needs) – Just like above, meeting people and flying when your system is weekend is dangerous. I don’t even know if Airborne works but it makes me think it works so I take it. It also has vitamins and healthy stuff in it, so it doesn’t hurt to take it.
- Filtered Water Bottle (health needs) – I recently purchased a Brita Bottle with Filter and I love it! You can fill it from water from any tap and it filters in the bottle. Ice cubes also fit in there perfectly. Being a Mainer, I am spoiled with delicious water. Now I can tuck this is my bag and fill it whenever, wherever! We all know water is so good for you and for keeping you healthy. Why chance it by hoping they have water in the sessions and make sure you have a back up plan.
- Running shoes (health needs) – One of the reasons I picked up running is that you don’t need a lot of equipment. When you are away at a conference is a GREAT time to squeeze in a run (or a walk). Like the previous two examples, your body is run down at a conference but just getting up and about and sweating out some bad juju can really help you fight things off, feel energized and get you on track. You are also away with less of the distractions of home. I also like exploring a new city or area on a run. Obviously you need to be safe and know where you are going, but some of my favorite SXSW experiences were running around Lady Bird Lake. I got to see more of Austin than almost all of the hundreds of thousands of attendees. So bring your sneaks, lace ’em up and get out there (safely).
- Sheer Band-aids (health needs) – No matter how comfy you think your shoes are, there are few that can stand up to the work load you put on them at a conference. Drop a few Sheer Band Aids in your carry on and cover up any soft spots or cuts before they get out of control.
- Ballet Flats (fashion needs) – Conferences mean a lot of standing and walking. Most of my day to day pretty shoes can’t handle the stress of a conference. Heels are suicide, flip flops are unprofessional and end up hurting your feet too and sneakers just look funny. A good, comfy pair of ballet flats may be your best friend at a conference. The Gap has rarely done me wrong with their ballet flats. They are pretty durable and don’t cost a fortune.
- Fitted suit style jacket (fashion needs) – Conferences mean leaving your hotel room at 7am and not sure if you will be back before midnight. You might have an impromptu meeting, client dinner, drinks with a friend, been added to a panel at the last minute – not to mention constantly going from warm to overly air conditioned rooms. Having a nice fitted jacket that you can easily take on and off and not look unprofessional is key.
- Kindle (entertainment needs) – I read a lot and I read even more when I am traveling. My carry-on usually has my laptop, running shoes, camera and 4-5 books – that gets pretty heavy. I just got a Kindle 3G for my birthday and I am SO EXCITED to bring it with me and drop about 10 pounds from my carry on. I usually have the book I am currently trying to finish, one business book and then two or three ‘for me’ books that I bring. Sometimes you want to read smart things and sometimes you want to read brain rotting things (like almost anything with a pink cover). Now I can take as many books as I want with me and it won’t ever weigh more than 8.7 ounces!
- Angry Birds (entertainment needs) – Find a few minutes of downtime? Have to stand in line to pick up your packet? Want to look busy so that the guy across from you won’t talk to you? Two words for you – Angry Birds. I will be very busy throwing birds at pigs in houses trying to get my eggs back. If I save the eggs on the regular version there is still Seasons and Rio to save too. They need me!
- Mini power strip (sessions needs) – Being a plugged in gal, I use a lot of power when I am on the move. Adam got me this great mini power strip that tucks right in a pocket in my bag. It has three spots to plug things in. I could even share with a friend, if I felt like it.
- Big girl camera (new places needs) – Adam got me an awesome big girl camera (Canon Digital Rebel) for my 30th birthday (it was a gift for ‘us’). I love going to new cities and if it takes a conference to get me there, I am going to find time to go exploring. When I go exploring I love having a nice camera that I can bring with me to capture the things as I see them.
- A good, positive attitude (all around need) – Traveling is tough, being on your feet and constantly ‘on’ is tough, being away from your family and your own bed is tough. If you don’t have a good attitude about it, you will suffer and your chances of getting sick seem to go through the roof (not a doctor, just an observation). You have to have a good, positive attitude or your time will really stink. Load up your iPod with happy songs, make yourself go home early and get enough sleep, have a good breakfast – keep yourself as normal as you can and be happy you have this opportunity!
Those are some of my top conference needs! Hope some of this helps someone else! If I forgot something just let me know and wish me and Jenika luck in DC.
Have I told you neither of us have been to DC before? This should be interesting!