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6 Tips for Stress-Free Conference Travel

Deb-lee Guest Post By:
Deb Lee, CPO – Upper Marlboro, MD – www.dallisonlee.com

Recently, over 600 professional organizers descended on Columbus, Ohio for the 22nd Annual Conference and Organizing Exposition hosted by the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO).   There were attendees from California, Florida, New Zealand, Texas, and other far reaching places.  When the conference doesn’t occur in your neighborhood that means you’re driving, flying, or taking the train.  That can also mean lots of stress.

Here are 6 tips to help make conference travel a little easier…

  1. Plan ahead.  What’s the dress code for the conference?  Will you be in a warm or cool climate?  Have you thought about the sessions you want to take?   What do the travel pros pack?*   Food.  Know your habits and cover your bases.  Think about how much down time you’ll need when you return.  Consider taking a day or two to recover…and unpack!
  2. Stay at the conference hotel.  If another hotel is cheaper, consider how far away it is.  Is it worth the cab fees or time spent walking?  For me, the answer was yes.  It was worth staying 6 minutes away from the conference hotel, but I have to admit, staying on site would have been much easier and I would have slept in a bit.
  3. Keep your travel documents close by. It’s the night before your flight.  Do you know where your travel docs are?  Keep your itinerary in your handbag (murse for you guys) or carry on.  Going on a scavenger hunt on the day of your flight is not in your best interest.  A couple more things – take a direct flight and get to your destination a day early, if possible.  My roommate and I got in a day early, walked to the conference hotel to see if really was 6 minutes away (it was), and got our registration materials.
  4. Keep frequently used items together. This fundamental organizing principle works in just about any situation, and this one is no different.  Keep your conference itinerary (e.g., session dates/times/room #’s) with your conference badge and room key…and maybe a couple dollars. The NAPO 2010 conference organizers printed mini schedules for us that fit nicely inside our conference badge holders.  This was very convenient and helpful.
  5. Store your receipts separately.  Keep your receipts in a separate envelope (labeled, of course) and put it in location that you’ll easily remember (e.g., zippered pocket of your carry on).  That’s it.  Simple, yes?
  6. Conference stuff – to take or not to take?   Alright, this one’s tough. Conference vendors love to give away stuff – and lots of it.  Samples.  Freebies.  Things that you can & will actually use! Like a Dymo label maker.  Guess who won that at NAPO 2010? If you guessed me, you’d be right.   Guess who didn’t have room for it in her bag? Yep, me again.  Fortunately, I asked a friend who drove to the conference to take it in her car (Thank You, Jackie!).  In other cases, I refused documents and brochures because I can get that information online.  If you aren’t as lucky as I was, find out if the vendor would be willing to ship your freebies.  Of course, then they won’t be free any more as you’re probably going to pick up shipping/handling charges.

*Source:  Packing Tips from Travel Pros – NYTimes.com – May 5, 2010

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