Last week, I listed a few things that can go wrong when you travel to a conference. Today, I’ll offer a few ideas that might help overcome these mishaps.
1.) The car taking me to the airport doesn’t show up.
This has never happened to me, but I know an alternative car service I can call if need be.
2.) I don’t arrive at the airport on time.
I always allow much more time than I need. I’d rather drink coffee and peruse the internet at the airport than miss my flight.
3.) I accidentally pack something in my suitcase that sets off the airport security alarm.
I haven’t set off the alarm but my curling iron did cause suspicion at one airport. The last time I flew, I overhead another passenger say he had been stopped for a random search. My airport always stations TSA agents at a point in the initial security line where I see them pull people for random searches. Again, allowing yourself plenty of time to navigate the airport is the solution for possible delays.
4.) My flight is delayed.
This has happened to me. For this reason, I try to schedule nonstop flights so at least I don’t have to complicate my trip more by missing a connection.
5.) I miss my flight because of my own error.
This happened to me once. Thankfully, the conference director rearranged my ground transportation and was very cheerful and understanding. I am eternally grateful for her spirit. What my missed flight taught me was to read everything not once, not twice, but three times to minimize the chance of making a mistake.
6.) My flight is cancelled.
So far this hasn’t happened to me but if it does, I figure my best bet is to try to relax. Conference directors understand about travel and know there is nothing to be done but to be patient. All will be well.
1.) My suitcase got lost.
This hasn’t happened to me yet, and I think that’s partially because I schedule nonstop flights to minimize the number of times my suitcase changes planes. Some people cope by using a carry-on only. However, on about 80% of my flights, the airline has asked passengers to check their carry-on luggage since there isn’t room enough in the overhead bins for all the luggage, so you end up surrendering your valuable luggage and going to baggage claim anyway.
2.) The hotel doesn’t have my room ready so I have to wander aimlessly in the lobby for an hour.
One can only hope for a free cup of coffee and wireless access.
1.) I forgot a critical toiletry or clothing item.
2.) My phone charger is still on the breakfast nook table.
3.) My important conference papers are still on my desk.
To help with these three, either use a phone app or make a list of everything you need for all your trips and keep it ready to print out so you can check off everything. I have a list an author shared with me years ago that my assistant can send you if you ask. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another tip I got from Steve Laube: Pack all your exotic makeup early. (Ha! Just wanted to see if you are paying attention.) Then the morning of your flight, as you use your toiletries and cosmetics, place them all in a container as you are finished and then pack them, and that way you should have everything you need. Pack this container in luggage you will be carrying so you will have it if your main suitcase is lost.
4.) Shampoo spilled everywhere, ruining much of my wardrobe.
I pack spillables in a freezer bag, then again in a plastic grocery bag, then again in a zip compartment in my suitcase. So far, so good.
1.) Though the food is awesome, for some reason, eating sets off a terrible illness.
This hasn’t happened to me but I do know a conference attendee who experienced this. Her friends were there immediately to help her, and she recovered. You will also have friends — or at least a temporary family — at any conference who will help you in times of distress.
2.) Seasonal allergies kick in.
If you know changes in climate affect you, or if you have other maladies that occur when you travel, be sure to pack all the medications you may need. And if you feel ill, take a break for a nap. Better to miss one workshop or dinner than to be ill through several events.
3.) Through a comedy of errors, I fail to appear on a panel or at a meeting.
Make a list of everywhere you absolutely must appear BEFORE you leave for the conference. Go over it in your mind and keep it with you during your trip.
4.) I manage to feel like an idiot at some point.
It happens to all of us. If in doubt about whether to say something, try to remain silent.
5.) During an appointment, I make someone cry.
I try not to do this. If you need to cry, it’s okay. Just know that I really, really do feel bad about your distress.
6.) Someone else tells me off in front of several other people at the closing banquet because I rejected her work at our appointment.
Yes, this has happened to me. And now you know why a lot of us agents and editors tell everyone to send everything. I try not to do that for your sake. But if I do turn you down, I understand if you’re angry. However, sharing your anger with the agent, especially in front of others, does not leave the best impression about you and may even make everyone else feel sorry for the agent. And you wouldn’t want that to happen for that terrible, mean, no-good agent, would you?
7.) The shoes that felt like walking on pillows at the store are now cutting into both feet.
This has happened to me. Many times. Definitely bring options for yourself. And bring band-aids.
8.) This outfit doesn’t look as good as I thought it would when I packed it.
So yes, throw in that extra dress or blazer. Another tip: When packing, I make a list of what outfit I plan to wear each day of the conference. This helps me to pack everything, and to let everyone know that yes, I do own several black dresses and that I’m not just wearing the same one three days in a row. I take the list with me to the conference.
May all your conferences be mishap-free!
What is your favorite app you use to help you travel trouble-free?
What other tips can you offer?