Thursday, September 1, 2016

Travelling to GHC!

Hello all!

I think it's quite ironic that I'm writing a post about travelling to GHC as I'm not actually able to attend the conference this year! But, I have done it quite a few times, so wanted to give you some tips!

First off, flights there:

Flights. Long haul or short haul, they're all stressful (well, they are if you're me). I do everything possible to try and make sure that my flight there will go as smoothly as possible from check-in to takeoff to touchdown. Here's some ways to help make that happen:

  1. If possible, check in electronically the night before. This saves you time in lines once you get to the airport and it's one less thing you have to worry about the day of. 
  2. Tip 1 goes directly into tip 2--print your ticket at home. I also have tickets sent to my phone to be scanned there when possible, but I always print the ticket as a backup. If you've checked in electronically, you can do this at home and you can have all your travel documents ready to go as soon as your'e at the airport.
  3. For goodness sake, get to the airport on time, if not early. I always arrive well before the recommended time they say for flights. This means that I don't have to worry and be all in a tizzy when I get there, sprinting through terminals to try and make my boarding call. Worst case scenario when you get there early: you read a book, catch up on a show you've been meaning to watch, get some work done, or organize your GHC itinerary. Worst case scenario when you're late: you forlornly watch your plane fly away before you go stand in a long line to book a new ticket, hopefully still early enough to get to the conference.
  4. If at all possible, travel carry on only. Unless you're tacking a vacation on either side of the conference, you're only there for a few days. This way, you have everything you need with you at all times, no extra bags to worry about or standing at the luggage carrousel. 
  5. Going through security can be an absolute nightmare, so here's a mini list of tips to help you through:
    • Wear slip on shoes--walking through in your bare feet or struggling with laces isn't great.
    • Wear easily take-off-able layers or have as much stowed in your carry on as possible. You can always rejig things once you're through security.
    • Have no metal on you. I always have my watch and jewelry in a compartment of my purse to put on either after security or the flight itself.
    • Have your laptop easily accessible. Have other electronics stowed (you usually don't have to take out your cell phone and e-readers anymore).
    • And lastly, have all your liquids readily available and properly packed in a clear, quart-sized bag. Don't be that person that holds up the line while rummaging around for your shampoo.
  6. Wear comfortable layers. It can be freezing on the plane and hot once you land. Be adaptable!
  7. Bring a water bottle and fill it up once you're through security--staying hydrated is important!
  8. Bring some snacks! Airport food is expensive and there's no guarantee that you'll actually like your flight food. Having some of your own treats can make the world of difference.
  9. Bring something to do. You don't want to be bored for 5 hours in a terminal and on a flight. Bring a book. Download a movie (legally, of course). Have some work you can do. Or, my favourite, bring an audiobook to listen to. Take some time to relax on the flight!

Secondly, at the conference:

This year, the conference will be held in Houston, Texas again. So here's some of the tips I have from being at the same place last year, and just from attending GHC in general!

  1. The outside is hot. The inside is cold. Wear adaptable layers. Houston has some great sunshine, but they also have great air conditioning.
  2. Bring your own cables, spare chargers, power bars, and possibly power banks as well. Your phone or laptop will die. There will not be enough outlets.
  3. Your hotel is pretty much a place to sleep. The conference itself is full on. Make the most of it! =)
  4. There is so much free swag, especially from the Career Fair. But keep your suitcase size in mind.
  5. Don't underestimate the shuttles to and from the conference. Taking Ubers can add up. Make sure you plan your itinerary carefully and make use of the free transit.
  6. Don't worry about bringing a lot of snacks--there will be more snacks, tea, coffee, and water than you can possibly ingest at the conference. So don't weigh yourself down too much! 
  7. If you miss a session, don't worry. We've got note takers and bloggers for all the sessions, so you can always see what you missed! For note taking, visit the GHC16 wiki. And for blog posts, keep checking back here!
  8. Dust off your dancing shoes! The dance is an amazing and completely judgement free place for fun. So just have fun =)

Thirdly, heading home:

The conference is over and it's time to head home. But...somehow you've accumulated a lot of stuff. And you're super tired for your flight the next day! What do you do? My tips from flying *to* GHC apply here as well, but here's a few extras:

  1. Make full use of breakfast at the hotel, if you have it provided. Don't run in with an empty stomach. Standing in security while all you want is some coffee and a bite to eat is brutal. And lines can take forever. Make sure you're taking care of yourself and are fed.
  2. If you have a later flight, ask the hotel about a late/delayed checkout. You'd be amazed how much difference one hour can make.
  3. As I said before, check in the night before and print your ticket from the hotel printer. Saves time and effort the next day!
  4. Split cab or Uber fare with those in your room if they're leaving at the same time. 
  5. Pack the night before. Madly trying to be a Tetris god in the morning can really backfire.
  6. Sort your swag. If you can do this before the end of the conference, bonus points, as you can donate any swag you don't want. You have limited suitcase room so make sure you're really only bringing back stuff you know you'll love and make use of.
  7. If you run out of suitcase room, and can't check luggage, but really want those things, buy a prepaid postage box and post it to your place. Way better than having to buy another bag to check or checking a bag you really don't want to. And, sometimes, even cheaper than checking an extra bag anyways.

There's a lot more, but I don't want to take up too much about prepping you for your first time at GHC. Because, we'll actually be having another blog post on that! So keep your eyes peeled!

Safe and happy travels, everyone! Don't sweat it if something goes wrong with your travels, it will all get sorted. You'll have a blast! I'm so jealous and wish I would be seeing you all there, but I'll just have to live vicariously through you all from afar!

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