Conference Travel? Don’t leave home without these

Last week I spent three incredible days in Laguna Beach, California.

laguna beach

What made those days so incredible, you ask?

Well, first of all I was there for Mom 2.0. The gathering of professional women who work and play in the blog-o-sphere, social media and traditional media was by far the best blog-focused conference I’ve been to in a long time. The topics were on point and the speakers were all mentor-worthy.

But the second thing that made it incredible was the mere fact that I made it there at all.

The last few months have been a hectic time in Heather-ville. Email woes, incredible awards, new opportunities and a general convergence of amazing things (including a piece in “O- The Oprah Winfrey Magazine” June issue! ) meant that I wasn’t as on the ball with my travel plans as I usually am.

And so it was that I found myself only a week out from the conference without a hotel room. I got lucky.

Jill & Mo

Maureen Dennis and Jill Amery took pity on me and in exchange for my fashion tips (Wooohoooo I’m so funny! * wipes tear*) let me stay with them leading to a fun weekend with friends new and old where we posed for pictures like this:

posing hln booth

and this:

Derby eyes

Fun Times! But even that almost didn’t happen because less than 24 hours before I was scheduled to depart I discovered that I had booked my ticket to the wrong city.

Yup, the woman who took her husband and two children around the world on more than 50 segments that included trains, planes, cars and boats managed to mess up an Aeroplan flight from Toronto to California.

I knew where I wanted to be. I’ve taken shots of the John Wayne Airport before but for some reason I ended up booking my trip to San Diego instead of Santa Ana.

A good 75 miles away from where I needed to be. 75 miles away from this guy:

John Wayne

Not the end of the world. Nothing a car rental, overnight car parking charges times three, gas and insurance add-ons and a pocket full of cash couldn’t fix, right? Except the extra costs and time involved would’ve killed my spirit and budget.

Luckily, I was able to get on with Aeroplan and make the changes. They took pity on my (SAN) instead of (SNA) dilemma and helped me re-organize things for the flight the next day.

And though I’ll be eating crow for a long time thanks to my oh-so-supportive pals who thought my mistake was the funniest thing EVER, it did remind me that we all make mistakes.

So, in the interest of helping prevent these moments in your life…Here are five things you should think about before you run out to catch your next flight.

(Hint: Print this out, put it on the door and make it the last thing you see before you head out.)

1.  Double check your flight:  I think the reasons for this one are obvious now. It only takes a minute to stop and really read the ticket. Where are you supposed to be going? Are the times right? Take the time. Avoid the embarrassment.

2. Double check your passport: A certain friend, who shall remain nameless and who was heading to the same conference, discovered the night before we left that her passport was expired. Not a good situation when you’re supposed to be on a flight at 8:30 the next morning. Double check that yours will be valid for your entire trip at the time you book your ticket.  She was lucky and was able to get a passport on a rush basis and still join the conference. You should also keep a copy separate from your original. Make it easy and leave a copy in each of your most used bags and you’ll never have to worry.

3. Carry-on when you can: I’ve extolled the virtues of carry-on luggage before. Trust me, there’s not much worse than getting to a conference where “business casual” is expected and you only have your swimsuit cover-up with you…I’ve heard. And if conference organizers  want to send you home with things or you need to do a little a lot of shopping? No problem. Pack a bag that can be squished down to next to nothing in your carry-on on the way there, and used as a checked piece on the way home. And if the deals are really good, you can buy a bag where you are.

4.  Pack a portable charger: Unless you’re on a vacation where you’re opting out of your email, social media and online scrabble competitions, chances are you may want to stay connected on the go. Roaming plans are key to avoiding hefty charges but all is lost if you don’t have a charger and your battery is dying.  My #1 can’t leave home without it tool is the Fat Cat charger I tested out on this site months ago. I didn’t realize how much I was stressing over low battery alerts until I had it. No longer do I give the side eye to people taking up the extra plug at the airport or lose sleep over the flashing “you’ve got less than 10%” alert. I’m cool as a cucumber and charged to the nines to boot.

5.  Get good business cards: I know. Some will says that handing out your business card is old-school when everyone’s entire life is available online but the truth is sometimes you are asked for it and not having one just means you’ve lost one more chance to be remembered. I got a bunch of moo cards made recently with pictures from our trip around the world on the back and my headshot on the front and I can’t tell you how many times I’m asked about the photos. It’s a chance to connect through a story and my face on the front means they’ll be able to put face to name when I email.

moo cards

What about you? Any tips you’ve learned over the years through trial and error?

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{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Someone May 10, 2013, 7:56 PM

    Here’s my tip: do not buy coffee before you pass security. It will only break your heart. Find your gate first.

    Reply
  • Jody Robbins June 10, 2013, 11:06 PM

    Was wondering about Mom 2.0. Glad to hear it gets the thumbs up. The city mix up sounds like something I would do. Frustrating, but a lesson you’ll never forget.

    Reply

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