#ASHA13–Inside My Bag

I am the queen of over packing. Quite frankly, I’m not sure how I am going to get all my things to ASHA, considering I won’t have my husband’s bag for “overflow”. But one thing I learned VERY quickly was that over packing for a day at ASHA is b-r-u-t-a-l. You have to haul whatever you bring into the convention ALL day long – along with whatever you pick up along the way. Very rarely do you see your hotel room until late in the evening.

So, what do I pack?

Laptop Backpack
I typically carry a laptop backpack. This gives me plenty of pockets to keep myself organized and to carry all of the things I pick up throughout the convention. I did a roller bag last year, when I was very pregnant, but that was nearly hazardous to my health… roller bags and escalators don’t always get along.
Tablet
I always have my iPad with me. It’s lighter than my laptop, quicker to turn on, less space in the tiny rows of chairs… overall it works for me! In the exhibit hall there will be a ton of app developers – your tablet will come in handy there too! Make sure to charge it every night, it will get a lot of loving all day long!
Stylus
I like to “jot” notes, copy diagrams and sketch ideas. I don’t mind to toot my own horn, but I can draw a mean stick figure! I also like to write on pdf files with my favorite app. I do this best with a stylus, so I always have one or two in my bag! You can pick them up pretty cheap nowadays, which is an added bonus!
Keyboard
I type way faster than I write – but only on a physical keyboard. Typing on my screen is adequate, but not the best environment for my mad-crazy typing abilities. I typically use my phone at convention, as I have always had a phone with a physical keyboard. Well, they officially stopped making good phones with a physical keyboard – I had a period of mourning. Really. Then, I raced out to amazon and bough this bluetooth keyboard *smile*
Stand
If I have the ability to, I like to prop up my ipad or phone so I can see the screen while typing. This isn’t always feasible in sessions, unless I’m sitting on the floor. But it’s helpful back in the hotel room, at lunch, or sitting at a table in between sessions. I’m giving this one a try this year for both my phone and iPad – my clients were over zealous with my iPad case and broke the stand…
External Battery
I wrote up a whole blog post about the need for an external battery during convention. I just received my newest New Tent iCarrier and was ecstatic with the new upgrades! No more separate charger – it charges by micro USB! Every night I charge the charger up and it almost always gets me through a whole day of convention. Unless I share too much.
Power Strip
I love my mini power strip! It comes in handy throughout the WHOLE trip. I can plug in multiple devices in the airport and the convention center. And if all the outlets are full, I can usually sweet talk someone into sharing their outlet with me when I show them the power strip! And it allows me to plug in a lot in one place inside my hotel room… rather than spreading my tech around the whole room!
Chargers + Cords
The New Trent has 2 USB outlets on it, so you need to carry along your USB cords for your tech. I typically carry a few extra in case a friend needs to charge as well! I like to have at least one micro USB and one iPad cord on me! I’ll even bring a USB plug adapter to charge from the wall (if available).
Phone
My phone serves SO many purposes throughout the convention! I clearly use it for calls and texts, but also as my primary camera. I’ll tweet and update Facebook throughout the convention. But my favorite feature? Tethering! I can use my phone as a remote wireless hotspot – a godsend when the convention center either 1) doesn’t have WiFi or 2) the WiFi can’t handle the size of the convention (read: every.single.year.).
Business Cards
I always ASHA is all about networking – making connections with others in the profession! Whether you are making social or business connections, business cards can be an easy way to ‘keep in touch’. Plus, they are great for dropping into those contest buckets in the exhibit hall! I love mine from Moo Cards!
 
 penandpaper Pen + Paper
Sometime tech just DOESN’T work. Or, you need to write something down to hand off to someone else. I always keep a small notebook and a few pens in my bag. I would rather have it and never use it, than be stuck without them and really need them!
Name Badge
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR NAME BADGE BEHIND! Don’t forget it anywhere, don’t set it down in your hotel room or even on the lunch table. I always take it off and put it RIGHT in my bag at the end of the convention day. You will NOT be allowed in sessions or the exhibit hall without it. And it will cost you – $$ to reprint and TIME. I forgot mine once, and by the time I got it reprinted I missed the first session of the day!
 black-grey-cardigan Sweater/Light Jacket
Sometimes you will find yourself in a room so packed with people that you can barely breath. Other times you’ll be in a nice airy room that will leave your teeth chattering. And you’re going to be in Chi-town… in November. Trust me, pack a sweater or light jacket in your bag to throw on (and shimmy off) throughout the day. They usually have a coat check for your bulky winter coat so you don’t have to haul it all day! 
Cash
Whether you’re splitting a cab fare, chipping in for lunch or paying back someone for doing an “all call Starbucks run!” – cash will serve you well (in addition to your CC). And make sure you have some smaller bills while you are at it! It’s doubtful anyone else will have change for you.
 cash-02

So, what DON’T I pack…

  1. My Laptop – I bring it with me to ASHA, but it stays in the room. It is just too big and heavy to haul around. Even if you have a super light laptop, think about how much room it is taking up in that bag. That is PRECIOUS room – free pens, handouts and that t-shirt you just won could ALL go in that space!
  2. A large notebook – if it’s there, I’ll use it. I want my notes to be digital, so I don’t give myself the option of taking a ton of notes on paper. And again, valuable space!
  3. Purse – I put my wallet, glasses case and chapstick into the backpack. The rest can stay in the hotel room. And by “rest” I mean everything else in the bottomless pit I call “my purse” AND the purse itself. I don’t need to try and manage a backpack, a free bag from the exhibit hall, my winter jacket, my Starbucks cup AND a purse. Not going to happen.

Anything else you are thinking about bringing?

– Tara Roehl

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