Conferences can be very worthwhile, both for business and pleasure. You look forward to the event and canít wait to see friends or colleagues you havenít seen in a while.
Here are 7 things to do before traveling to your next conference that will ease help you enjoy your time there:
1) Pack a foldable tote bag into your luggage. This is great for schlepping home binders of materials or other items collected at the conference. Alternatively, ask your hotel to have these extras home.
2) Pack layers of clothing. The number one complaint at conferences is the room is either too hot or too cold. Meeting rooms are usually kept cooler than many of us would like so bring a shawl or sweater.
3) Plan ahead for special meals. Advise your meeting planner of any special meal requirements. With sufficient notice, they can usually work with the hotel or other venue to meet your needs.
4) Bring midday snacks. Items such as protein bars, nuts, apricots, bananas and grapes are good choices if youíll be sitting in all-day meetings because theyíre not too messy or noisy to eat. Apples, pears and oranges are good if youíll be walking around a conference floor where you can wash your hands afterwards.
5) Bring lots of business cards. Great for networking opportunities. For business cards received, make a note on the back of the card as to the date and conference youíre attending, and notes about the person youíd like to remember. Or keep a small notebook with you to jot down this information and add it to your contact management system later. Better yet, scan each business card with an app on your mobile phone.
6) Pack comfortable shoes. It is easy to underestimate how much walking you will be doing. Whether itís up and down the aisles of a trade show, a long hike to the hotelís meeting room, or an evening walk to a restaurant, itís common to be walking much more than planned. This is not the time for new untested shoes!
7) Plan for irregular hours. Most meetings do not run 9am Ė 5pm. Many begin early with a group breakfast, may not stop for lunch until 1pm, and continue into the evenings. Conferences can tend to take over your entire day when you add together the meeting, networking time and time spent with friends and colleagues. Once you know the hours set for the conference, plan times for calling home to talk with your family. Make time for yourself as well, whether itís working out, enjoying spa time or just relaxing.
And hereís a bonus tip: Bring a water bottle. Water is your best friend at a conference. Many conferences have water available in small cups but with a bottle, there is less need to fill up frequently.
Hopefully these tips will help you be prepared for a comfortable and enjoyable conference, one that accomplishes all the reasons youíre attending as well as gives you some private time to relax, unwind and stay connected with your loved ones.