Conference Travel: What Could Go Wrong?

When traveling to a conference recently, I realized, as I always do when traveling, how many things can go wrong. Such as:

Getting there

1.) The car taking me to the airport doesn’t show up.

2,) I don’t arrive at the airport on time.

3.) I accidentally pack something in my suitcase that sets off the airport security alarm.

4.) My flight is delayed.

5.) I miss my flight because of my own error.

6.) My flight is cancelled.


 1.) My suitcase got lost.

2.) The hotel doesn’t have my room ready so I have to wander aimlessly in the lobby for an hour.


 1.) I forgot a critical toiletry or clothing item.

2.) My phone charger is still on the breakfast nook table.

3.) My workshop papers are still on my desk.

4.) Shampoo spilled everywhere, ruining much of my wardrobe.

 On site

 1.) Though the food is awesome, for some reason, eating sets off a terrible illness.

2.) Seasonal allergies kick in.

3.) Through a comedy of errors, I fail to appear on a panel or at a meeting.

4.) I manage to feel like an idiot at some point.

5.) During an appointment, I make someone cry.

6.) Someone else tells me off in front of several other people at the closing banquet because I rejected her work at our appointment.

7.) The shoes that felt like walking on pillows at the store are now cutting into both feet.

8.) This outfit doesn’t look as good as I thought it would when I packed it.

This is quite  a list, isn’t it? However, most of these things have not happened to me, and certainly not all on the same trip. So while it’s easy to be anxious, the Bible tells us to be anxious about nothing. All of these mishaps can be overcome.

Next time I’ll offer ideas on how.

Your Turn:

What mishaps have happened to you on travel? How did you cope?

What is your favorite conference to attend?

17 Responses to Conference Travel: What Could Go Wrong?

  1. Jackie Layton April 9, 2015 at 6:04 am #

    Those are all terrible things to happen. I’ve accidentally made people cry at work, and it feels terrible.

    I’ve only been to four conferences, and the first was the worst. I got so dizzy and nauseous that I could barely function. I missed an appointment with an agent, and I didn’t get to go into Dallas on the fun night. I’m still trying to figure out the problem because ACFW is going back to Dallas this year. There was much more fresh air at the next two conferences, and I think I must have been allergic to something in the hotel. Or it could have been a really bad case of nerves. Ha! Once I started going out to the pool area during every break, I began to feel better.

    I hope your next conference is amazing! I look forward to your post on how to avoid these mishaps.

  2. Richard Mabry April 9, 2015 at 6:10 am #

    Tamela, I always worry when traveling. I like your list–it contains several things I’d never considered as worry material. Now I have a longer list of my own. : )
    Meanwhile, thanks for sharing this.

  3. Karen Whiting April 9, 2015 at 6:26 am #

    Some mishaps are God endorsed-I promised one editor that the following year I’d have a proposal ready for her and sent it ahead to have her critique it but it was given to a different editor who wanted to contract it (and did). I did apologize to the originally editor and gave her a chance to review it too.

    The only time I went to Mount Herman I immediately came down with bronchitis and met few people-but did meet the editor of the Lookout, got an assignment, and have written many articles for them. I was so sick that after two weeks when I did not email to confirm I’d write the article he contacted me (still sick in bed). I got the article done a month early.

  4. Jennifer Zarifeh Major April 9, 2015 at 6:45 am #

    Some of the most interesting travel experiences that have happened to me involve a small Latin American country to which I have missionary ties.
    Let’s just say that ELEVEN security stops between getting my boarding pass and getting on the plane are a few too many.
    Yes, eleven.
    One of those security stops was the slow, thorough and very vocal investigation of a personal garment which contains underwire.

    So, conferences? HAHAHA! I laugh! NOTHING can be as awkward and embarrassing as having one’s personal garments critiqued.


    So, off you all go to your conferences (ACFW 2015!) and remember, in those nerve wracking pitch sessions? Ain’t nobody going to pat you down like you’re wearing radioactive metal.


    Say what you need to say and remember that no matter how nervous you are, that agent is not wearing a tazer and a gun.

  5. Terri Wangard April 9, 2015 at 7:39 am #

    I flew into Dallas last time on Southwest Airlines, my usual carrier. But Southwest goes to Love Field, not Dallas Ft Worth. It took forever for the scheduled shuttle to arrive at Love. Then we got to DFW and there are two Hyatts. Which one did I want? I was dropped off at the wrong one. Fortunately, Hyatt provided me with a ride to the right one. This year I’m flying in to DFW.

  6. Jessi L. Roberts April 9, 2015 at 7:40 am #

    It seems like when I go to the Florida Christian Writers’ Conference, I have an upset stomach every morning. I’m guessing it’s mostly nerves combined with jet lag and such a radical change in diet. (I’m from Montana.)
    I generally cope by not eating much in the morning, other than stuff that won’t upset my stomach, such as the tasty kiwi fruit that are hard to get in Montana. (You can find kiwi in Montana, but the stuff I saw looked pretty shriveled.)

  7. Angela April 9, 2015 at 8:13 am #

    Well just about that entire list has happened to me. And I’ve been bumped off flights, rerouted, stuck overnight for weather, had emergencies at home, car broke down on a pass, forgot to get travel funds from the bank, and served meals that literally not one item was safe to eat for my autoimmune condition.
    I usually solve it but getting stuck overnight was a tough one. The hotel room not being ready is usually easy to overcome. But one year I waited 4 hours and was accidentally forgotten because my roommate arrived the day before and the room showed not cleaned. I’d asked if my roommate checked in and was told no. We kept missing each other. Finally, just before the dinner, she came down and I was able to prove she was in the room so they would give me a key! Her cell didn’t work since she was from another country. I view thighs that go wrong as an adventure and writing fodder 🙂

    • Angela April 9, 2015 at 8:16 am #

      Oh for Pete’s sake, see? And cell phones change your words…things, not thighs. But every woman would agree that thighs are a problem, lol!

  8. Janet Ann Collins April 9, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    I love the Mount Hermon conference and drive there since I live in Northern CA. It’s normally about a four hour trip. But once I left the conference at 2:00 p.m. and didn’t get home until midnight because of several freeway accidents and commuting traffic. Now I stay with friends or family in the area the night before the conference starts just in case of major traffic problems.

  9. Carol Ashby April 9, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    I was flying home from Seattle to Albuquerque on a plane that went on to Houston. Overhead bins were full so they took my carry-on at the door. My bag was sent on to Houston and misplaced by that now-defunct airline. Another airline foud the bag in Houston more than a week later and sent it back to Albuquerque on one of their planes even though I had not flown with them. I still have warm feelings toward Continental for that act of kindness.
    I was very thankful it was lost on the way home. You think you are safe taking only carry-on but…
    Now when I go to a meeting, I always wear something suitable for the meeting just in case everything gets lost going out. When I’m presenting, I can always make a joke about my “plane-chasing” running shoes if the luggage doesn’t catch up with me in time.

  10. Lee Carver April 9, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

    I wrote the book–literally–about travel and life in foreign countries. Lots of hilarity, if it didn’t happen to you. That aside, Tamela, remember that you have friends in town with ACFW-DFW Chapter a.k.a. Ready Writers. I’ll be there with a car and helpful connections. If you attendees have a problem I can help with, I want you to let me know.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray April 10, 2015 at 6:44 am #

      Lee, how sweet of you to offer, though I’m hoping for a smooth trip. I look forward to seeing you and all my other friends!

  11. Gary Neal Hansen April 9, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

    The best writing conference I’ve gone to was the “Iowa Summer Writing Festival.” It runs two day weekend and five day weekday sessions back to back all summer in Iowa City, on just about every genre and many aspects of the writing life. Many of the teachers are grads of the famous Iowa Writer’s Workshop MFA program.

    Carol Spindel’s week long “Book length creative non-fiction” course taught me things that greatly improved my first book.

    And it was the first week I really felt like a writer.

    There are no pitches scheduled or expected, so much of the anxiety of other conferences waste gone.

  12. Sandy Faye Mauck April 9, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

    I just got back from Mount Hermon. Being a coastal girl, I didn ‘t think I would have trouble with my serious allergies. My hubby insisted I bring my surgical face masks. I hate the memory of having to wear them 24/7 unless I am by the beach. But Mount Hermon was a mass of blossoms between the redwoods so I became the masked woman running around. If I didn’t wear the mask, I would have spent the rest of the conference in bed with a killer migraine so had to look stupid the whole time and suffocating in it as I went to classes. I knew like Angela said, food could be a problem but it wasn’t—yeah! But I also know I am one who cannot go to hotel conferences because of fragrances so was thankful for the Mount Hermon experience.
    I can’t imagine all who have to fly. I felt like I brought everything but the kitchen sink. Pardon the cliche.

  13. Ron Andrea April 10, 2015 at 4:55 am #

    Oh, goody! More things to worry about!

    Seriously, I’ve been to a few conferences and always find myself worrying about what I’m going to miss, but afterward I always fell full to overflowing.

    Go and be blessed.

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