Attending technical conferences are marathons. You’re in a huge conference center for many hours. You attend keynotes, sessions, and check out all the vendor booths. If you’re a vendor you have booth duty and lots of customer meetings. And there is the opportunity to catch up with the friends that live in far away places. And then there are all the parties….
It’s easy to get caught up and overwhelmed by all of the activities during these conferences. As we get ready for the fall conferences, starting at the end of the month at VMworld, I thought I’d share some of my tips for enjoying these events and keeping a bit of balance.
- Wear good shoes. This one is on everyone’s list, because it’s critical! I decided this year that I’m wearing my hiking shoes, even with my dresses if I don’t have booth duty.
— Gina Minks (@gminks) July 13, 2016
When I have booth duty, I’ll by a pair of Sketchers just for the show, and make sure they are broken in. We’re usually not allowed to wear sensible tennis shoes. They only seem to last about 100K steps (or a little over 1 show).
- Soak your feet! Figure out where a hot tub is. This is hard to do in Vegas, the pools usually don’t open until after the keynotes and they close pretty early. You can also soak in the tub in your room – Vegas has awesome tubs. Schedule 15 – 20 minutes for this a couple of times during the week, your feet will thank you.
- Stretch. Whether you go to the gym or you do this in your room, stretch. It’s really easy to do simple yoga moves that will make your back feel better after carrying around a back-pack all day. Cat-cow is super easy, and it feels so good after a long day.
- Order a special meal. Order a special meal, avoid the long lines and get food that is better for you!
- Try and find good snacks. This is harder. One trick I’ve found is the gyms usually have free fruit (yet an another reason to plan some stretch time in the gym!). Many of the hotel gyms in Vegas also do smoothies, if you know you won’t make it to breakfast.
- Take nutritious foods! You know you are bringing a checked bag so you can haul home your swag, so why not fill it on your way out with nutritious food to put in your backpack. You may need to do some homework first. Here are some of the things I do:
- I know the hotel I’m staying in sorta has a fridge, but no microwave. So I’ll probably bring some cold cereal, but if I had a microwave in my room I’d bring oatmeal.
- I may bring some small containers of almond milk, you can also get milk in those little containers.
- I always bring nuts. If my schedule gets a little weird, this is an easy way to keep my energy up.
- I’ve started bringing graham crackers and peanut butter. I have a stash of the plastic silver sets that come with takeout food, so I bring some of those too. If I can find a banana, this is the best treat ever.
- Apples travel well too. They are also easy to throw in a backpack.
- Bring a water bottle. Especially in Vegas, it’s important to stay hydrated. In the past, the VMworld backpack also had a water bottle. You’ll find water stations everyplace. Make sure you keep your water bottle with you and keep it full!
- Go outside. It’s very hard to go outside when you are in Vegas. Make a point to walk outside. In Mandalay Bay, you can actually walk much of the way to the convention center outside. The bonus is that outside isn’t as crowded as the halls inside. However, I’d recommend doing this in the morning, before it gets too hot.
- Remember – you don’t have to drink. I realize this one may be sacrilege. There are lots of parties. And in Vegas, it’s actually more expensive to buy water than it is to buy beer. Go figure. If you do drink, remember it is going to dehydrate you. Some parties (like vmunderground) provide a non-alcoholic choice. And there are lots of us who aren’t into the drinking scene…just find us!
- Don’t worry if you forget something, just head to CVS or Walgreens on the strip. Stock up on good things for you that will help you keep your energy up.
These are my tips for trying to maintain balance during big conferences. What are yours?