Having the necessary items will alleviate stress and help attendees have a successful conference.
Imagine being cold, hungry, wearing uncomfortable shoes, or suffering from an upset stomach at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear 2017 Clinical Meeting and Exhibition.
It could easily happen without proper preparation. The weather and conference room temperatures are unpredictable. Meal times may be spread far apart. There is a lot of walking, even for those staying onsite. And attendees may find themselves tired and thirsty after networking with key professionals in the pharmacy community.
The best way to combat all these unknowns is to be prepared beforehand, especially in terms of packing for the conference.
Here are must-haves for Midyear:
1. Complete outfits. It is common for people to pack the suit and forget the blouse or even grab the pants but forget the blazer. Always ensure that there are 2 shoes before throwing them in a bag. One of the most frustrating things that can happen on a business trip is forgetting outfit essentials.
Tip: Add up the number of key clothing items needed beforehand and count to make sure everything is there before zipping the suitcase. For example, I will pack 3 suits, so I should have at least 3 each of blazers, shirts, and pants or skirts, for a total of at least 9 pieces to have complete outfits.
2. Pack snacks and a reusable water bottle. One year when I attended Midyear, I paid $3 for a banana, followed by another $4 for a bottle of water. Pack a reusable water bottle to refill at the multiple water stations throughout the conference. In addition, bring along quick, easy-to-eat snacks, such as granola bars and fruit snacks, to fuel up between showcases, meals, and interviews.
Tip: Throw these items in the suitcase first so they do not get forgotten.
3. Hangers. I stayed in a room with 4 classmates. The hotel provided a total of 5 hangers. I packed hangers so I could hang suits and blouses and avoid ironing each day.
Tip: Do not bring the best hangers. I left mine in the hotel after departing, but having them made the week much easier.
4. Black sweater and jacket. I unfortunately did not pack a jacket for Midyear in Las Vegas, which was a mistake, as it was far colder than anticipated. Packing clothing that allows layering and can be paired with all outfits is key.
Tip: Always grab an extra layer of clothing when leaving the room.
5. Chargers: Make sure to pack the necessary chargers for computers, laptops, and tablets.
Tip: Fully charge devices the night before departing.
6. Presentation tools. For those who are presenting, push pins and the actual poster are essential. Presenters should not forget a copy of their CV and business cards, if they have them.
Tip: Pack all presentation materials in a manner that allows them to remain crisp and unbent.
7. First aid kit and essential over-the-counter medications. Bring an antihistamine in case something in the new environment triggers allergies. Other necessary items include antacids, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, Band-Aids, and alcohol swabs.
Tip: Gather a few items, and use a sandwich bag to create a do-it-yourself first aid kit.
8. Small sewing kit. Pack safety pins and a needle and thread.
Tip: These are important to have on hand in case a button comes off or something rips.
Packing these essential items allows attendees to focus on being their best at the conference, rather than dealing with the distractions of an incomplete outfit with uncomfortable shoes, while suffering from heartburn because of a late-night dinner.