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What to pack for your next conference

When you’re about to go on a trip, you know what you need to pack – passport, clothes, and other essentials. When you’re traveling to a conference, however, it’s even more important that you remember to throw a few essentials into your luggage before you jet off. Read on to make sure you’ve covered all bases before your next conference:

  1. International power adapter: Always research what the standard power outlet looks like in your destination so that you can charge your electronics. Also, check if your electronics support the standard voltage at your destination to avoid permanent damage to your devices.
  2. Portable power bank: Even if you bring an international power adapter, or your devices are supported at your destination, you may have a hard time finding a vacant power outlet or even one in your vicinity. Keeping a portable power bank on you at all times is a great backup plan as there’s nothing worse than your device shutting down when you’re trying to schedule meetings or look up conference details.
  3. Notebook and pen: You can never remember everything that you hear at a conference. That’s why you should always have a notebook and pen on hand so you can write a few notes and any questions you have during a lecture. Keep in mind that, while taking notes on your phone may be convenient, it can be disheartening for a speaker to look out at a sea of people staring at their phones so it’s best to try and minimize your cellphone attention.
  4. Business cards: As mentioned in an earlier blog post, “A researcher’s guide to networking at academic conferences,” it’s a good idea to bring your business cards so you can exchange your details with people you’d like to stay in touch with post-conference. One way to remember who you talked to at the conference is to jot down one or two notes about them or a topic you discussed on their business cards.
  5. Printed/Copied documents: This could include your flight details, hotel reservations, directions, conference information, identification, visa, credit cards, and maybe even a list of restaurants or places you would like to visit in the city where the conference is held. If you have compiled a list of the attendees you would like to speak to at the conference, you should have that handy as well (whether digitally or in paper form). Remember – free WiFi could be hard to find, and having an offline copy of important information is very helpful before you pick up a local SIM card.
  6. Medication: Getting sick while you’re in a foreign country is never a pleasant experience. That’s why you should prepare by bringing medications from home – cold and flu tablets, antihistamines, painkillers and any prescription medicine or vitamins you take, for example.
  7. Snacks and water: It can be hard to find food and drinks at a conference depending on the number of food vendors at the conference and number of attendees. To make sure that you’re at your best both physically and mentally, it’s smart to pack a reusable water bottle and your favorite snacks to replenish your energy when needed. Alternatively, you could buy some local products before the conference starts.
  8. Umbrella: Weather forecasts can be very fickle and getting drenched in transit is a rough way to start your time at a conference. Pack an umbrella and ensure it’s easily accessible if there’s any chance of rain.
  9. Carry-on bag: You’ll probably be packing all of the above along with your documents, clothes, toiletries, and electronic devices in a suitcase. Remember to also bring a backpack, briefcase, or another type of portable bag that you can carry with you to the conference. If the bag has more compartments to help you stay organized, all the better.

Considering how hectic it will be during the days the conference is held, preparing this in advance could save you a lot of stress and time on the ground. This isn’t a complete checklist of everything you should pack so make sure to make your own list of items that are essential for you.

Image credit: Suhyeon Choi