suitcases at the Brooklyn Fleaphoto © 2009 Kristen Taylor | more info (via: Wylio)

Before you ask, yes, I do realize that not everyone is going to the Blissdom blogging conference this week. I promise to return to our regularly scheduled programming soon, but the truth is, a lot of this advice will hold true for any type of conference, retreat or business trip you might find yourself attending.

So, whether you’re heading to Nashville tomorrow, attending a women’s retreat next month or saving up for this summer’s Comic-Con, here are a few tips for the last days leading up to your trip.

1. Remember to pack batteries, power cords and chargers. It is such a pain to juggle all those electronic accessories, isn’t it? If there’s a neat way to organize all those cords and battery packs, I have not found it. But there’s really no getting around it. You don’t want to miss taking a photo with your idol/mentor/friend or, worse yet, lose the ability to tweet every morsel of wisdom you hear in a session, do you? So check and double-check that you have your phone, camera and laptop – and whatever apparatus is required to give each one juice throughout your trip.

2. Make sure you take enough business cards. First of all, don’t be like me and not have business cards. But also make sure you have enough. I tend to take too many, which can also be annoying. I just prefer to think positive. Surely HALF of the conference attendees will want my card. Right?

3. Leave extra space in your bag for swag. If you’re not flying Southwest, you’re probably paying through the nose to check any luggage. And that’s annoying, after you’ve already bought a conference ticket, a plane ticket, a hotel reservation and new shoes. But if there’s a chance you might receive any sort of gift, materials or other swag at your event (and if we’re talking about Blissdom, the odds are pretty good, based on my experience the past two years), don’t shove everything into one carry-on bag. Unless you’re willing to ship your extra stuff back home, you’ll need more room in your suitcase on the way home than you did on the first leg of your trip. So, pack accordingly.

4. Take a water bottle. Planes and hotels are so terribly dry. And while most conferences provide ice water in their sessions and meetings, you just never know when you’re going to have access to a drink. Be prepared and stay hydrated. (This will also help you stay awake if you happen to sit in a less-than-thrilling class after lunch. NOT that this would happen at Blissdom! We’re talking other conferences here…)

5. Choose your sessions in advance. No matter what type of event you’re attending, it’s likely that your free time will be limited and you’ll find yourself hurrying from one meeting – or class or party – to another. So if your event offers multiple sessions to choose from, I highly suggest having a game plan before you arrive. Otherwise, you might get overwhelmed and flustered when you arrive and miss the classes that are most relevant for you.(Or is that just me?)

If you’re going to Blissdom, check out the great topics and speakers on the Blissdom website before you finish packing!

6. Leave copy of your itinerary for your family. And don’t forget to include any roommates’ names and the hotel’s name and phone number. I had originally thought I’d make a Google document with all that info and share it with Mark before leaving for Blissdom. Then I remembered that I’m taking the laptop with me. So old-fashioned paper will have to do for us.

7. Leave your family with a stocked fridge. Or at least cook them a meal or two to help them make it through your absence. Chili or baked pasta are great make-ahead meals that typically feed a family for a couple meals. And a frozen pizza never hurts, if you ask me (or my family).

8. Make a list of people to see/meet. I had grand plans to make dates with the people I most want to see at Blissdom. But it just hasn’t worked out that way. So to make sure I don’t miss anyone – even if it means five minutes of chatting and a big hug – I made a list of all the people I must see this week.

If you’re going to Blissdom, who’s on your must-meet list?

9. Schedule posts – during AND after conference. Or, if you don’t happen to be a blogger, work ahead as much as possible. Because I promise, you won’t want to spend your spare moments during the event working and you will be tired when you get home. Despite all the inspiration and encouragement and excitement you gained from your conference, the last thing you’ll want to do is jump back into work!

10. Get a haircut. Or a new lip gloss. Or a cute pair of shoes. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but if you are the least bit nervous, buy yourself a little something. I know, I know. We’re all smart, capable women. But who doesn’t stand a little taller when you’ve made an effort to take care of yourself?

Extra credit reading:

What do YOU do before going to a conference or traveling to an event?

This post will be linked to Top Ten Tuesday at OhAmanda.

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