No sooner had I made my plane reservations this morning for the first conference I’ll be attending this year (a week in New Orleans this April with 800 or so professional organizers who, believe it or not, know how to party), than my friend Jodi Womack published her conference packing list . I’ve been sharing my list for a long time, and Jodi is a super-organized lady who’s been honing her checklist for many years, so it was fun to see how close our lists come to one another. Jodi added a handy list of apps, so I took inspiration from her post and made my own short list of must-have travel apps.
So here it is. My ever-evolving list of stuff to pack and things to do to prepare for conferences. Feel free to make it your own. And if I missed something you think is essential, leave a comment below.
Conference Prep Checklist
- Business Cards // There’s nothing worse than running out, so don’t skimp. Check your v-card, too, so you can share digitally.
- Flyers // If you have something coming up that you’d like to promote, be prepared to do it now. Slide flyers into a sheet protector or a large Ziploc bag to keep corners unmangled.
- Notebook // Make the first page a list of actions you’ll take and changes you’ll make. It’s easier to find and add them to your task list when they’re not scattered through three day’s worth of notes.
- Pens + pencils // Though most conference venues stock extras, it’s good to take your favorites.
- Stationery // I usually take a stash of blank greeting cards and envelopes for thank-yous and follow-ups. I rarely use them before I get home (too tired, plane too bumpy, insert excuse here.) But maybe this time…
- Chargers // I like to keep chargers in labeled Ziploc bags. It keeps cords untangled, and if your bag labeled “phone charger” is empty when you go to check out, visit all your room’s outlets one more time.
- Snacks // I travel with my own favorite teas and instant coffee (tiny paper tubes of Mount Hagen organic instant – love it!) Also, durable foods like apples and almonds, to keep body and soul together in an emergency. And an empty water bottle – once past security, I fill it and keep it filled.
- Cash // Get a supply of singles for tipping, and small bills for splitting checks in restaurants.
- Camera + video recorder // These are probably on your phone, but if you’d like better quality, pack the right tools.
- Gifts // My roommates may forgive my stuff spread all over the desk when I’ve brought them a little box of Rechiutti chocolate from San Francisco.
- Make plane, hotel, and car reservations. Write addresses and confirmation numbers in your calendar.
- Plan your objectives. (Ideally, you’ll do this before you decide to go.) Why are you going? What do you want to accomplish?
- Decide who you’d like to connect with. Schedule a lunch, dinner, or walk with them. (You can have a great meeting on a 45-minute walk.)
- Go to twitter for conference hashtags (#NAPO2013) and look to see who’s talking about it.
- Plan what you’ll wear each day + make a packing list. Conference rooms can range from frigid to frying, so dress in layers. If you’re presenting, don’t wear jewelry that will make noises like a cement mixer when it rubs against the lavalier microphone you’re wearing. (I learned this the hard way.)
- Make time for a little sight-seeing. Every city in the world has something worth seeing, doing, and experiencing. And it helps to clear some conference fog from the brain.
- AroundMe // lets you find the nearest coffee shop, ATM, hospital, or gas station in a strange city.
- Airline apps // include HipMunk for a great comparison shopping app for airlines + hotels.
- OpenTable // for restaurant reservations on the fly, wherever you are. User reviews and ratings help to separate the good from the “meh.”
- Skype // receive + make calls free or nearly free, anywhere.
- Sleep Cycle // wakes you gently at the shallowest point in your sleep cycle so you avoid that awful “wrenched from the arms of Morpheus” feeling. Sleep is scarce enough during conferences, right?
- Social media // facebook, LinkedIn, twitter – or use HootSuite and have them all under one roof.
- Yogaspot // start the day with half an hour of morning flow class.