Conference Packing, Planning and other Preparation Tips

Jun 1, 2011

By April Welch, The Mental Clutter Coach

Today’s post originally appeared on the VolunteerSpot blog on May 05, 2011.

Preparing for conference and travel season has begun once again. Whether you’re heading out for business or for a training event with your nonprofit or faith group, it can be exciting to see colleagues, make new connections, and learn lots of cool new things…it can also be quite overwhelming. For the next few weeks the Tidy Thursday Column is going to be all about how to get ready, be at, as well as come home from conference and travel…with less stress and more fun.

Hitting the road and Preparing for Conference and Travel Season:

Ciera flashing her badge Pictures, Images and PhotosBefore you even leave the house there are so many things to think about and prepare for, much like family vacation planning there are all the domestic responsibilities to consider:

  • who will take care of the mail, plants, pets or maybe even the kids!
  • do you need to mentally prepare family members for your absence {like young children}
  • what appointments need to be handled before your travels {are you driving? Should you get an oil change?}

Plus, we don’t want to forget you’ll be in business mode as well:

  • do you have or need business cards?
  • is there a haircut appointment in your near future?
  • should you assess your professional wardrobe for comfort as well as style?
  • do you have chargers for your electronics and is your data backed up?

Don’t panic … that’s why we’re here, TOGETHER.

Conference and travel can make some of the strongest people want to curl up in a corner. It’s the double whammy! Not only are you headed into professional space, but you may be out of your comfort zone with the number of venues and new locations. Let’s take a look at how to prepare as much as possible:

Visit the sponsoring organization’s website before the Conference and Travel begins:

  • look through pictures of last year’s conference to see what folks were wearing for guidance on the dress code. Will there be social or sporting events needing special outfits or accessories?
  • spend some time in the agenda, know what sessions you’re most interested in attending
  • explore the local map, what restaurants have good reviews ~ are they within walking distance of the venue?

Helpful things to do BEFORE you leave for Conference and Travel:

  • Contact info:
    • order business cards with your general information {preferred phone, email, professional title, Twitter handle} Vista Print and Uprinting offer great inexpensive solutions
    • tech-savvy conference goers may wish to setup an account at to connect your online profile with your offline business cards. Enter your contact information and important links (LinkedIn, blogs, Twitter, etc.), and generates a QR code to a website with all your information. Right now they’re offering free business cards with your registration
    • if you’re really under the time crunch consider printing your own cards using Avery’s print & tear cards or printing a few sheets of address labels with your contact information. Also take a few extra blank sheets to capture information from folks who don’t have cards
    • if you run out, don’t panic! Many people carry smart phones or devices with cameras. Either quickly snap a photo of your badge or text or email the other person your contact information with a short note, “nice meeting you just now at the conference”
  • be sure to program colleague’s cell phone numbers into your phone before you leave
  • gather all things related to both the conference and travel arrangements in one place, I like to use a plastic divider and put it in the front of my suitcase
  • consider sending yourself a “care package” to the hotel, complete with a refillable water bottle and nutritious snacks. Trust me, after years of conference and travel arrangements gone awry, you’ll be glad you did!

Bonus tips: Conference_planning

Finally, packing for conference and travel can be equally tricky. Clothes you may normally wear might be more prone to the wrinkles packing can cause. I created a Business Packing video awhile back for colleagues facing the same challenges.

Tune in next week when we take a look at life during your conference and travel experience. Things like how to avoid burnout, knowing when a conversation is worth missing a session and how to arrive home ready for normal life to resume.

In the meantime I would love to hear you chime in over on the VolunteerSpot Facebook page about what conference and travel plans you have this season, what tips were helpful in this post or if you’re a veteran conference and travel guru – what additional tips you can offer!

Keepin’ it Tidy,



April is a Mental Clutter Expert | Mom of 2 boys | Lover of Tutus | Wife to 1 Fireman | Horrible Cook | Loyal Friend | National Public Speaker who gives you permission to be imperfect.

Photos by UNLV_AMA on Photbucket and Stephanie Schwab

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