Know Before You Go: Tips for Healthy Conference Travel

As you prepare to take off for your next big conference adventure, take a little time to gather up some tools that will help you stay well during your time away from home. This checklist considers all seven different aspects of wellness: physical, environmental, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and occupational.

Physical Wellness

□ Find out what fitness facilities are available at the conference hotel(s) and if you have a choice, select lodgings that have your preferred facilities. Pack appropriate clothing and plan workout times. If no facilities are available, pack your running shoes for quick, portable exercise.
□ Be sure to pack clothes and shoes that are professional, but also comfortable for days with lots of movement. Those exhibit halls and conference centers can be huge!
□ To avoid jet lag, stay up until at least 10pm local time. No naps longer than 2 hours!

Environmental Wellness

□ Pack your favorite water bottle or travel mug. Reuse!
□ Be prepared for the weather. Bring sunscreen, umbrellas, or other suitable outdoor gear.

Social Wellness

□ Contact old colleagues or friends that may be attending. Conferences are a great time for strengthening old ties and renewing your personal and professional networks.
□ Plan to attend social opportunities available through the conference planning committee.

Emotional Wellness

□ Leave yourself time to try something new, be it a conference session in a slightly different field or an exotic restaurant. Be adventurous!
□ Be prepared for things that might be stressors for you—meeting lots of new people, having a highly scheduled day, etc.—and have a plan for handling anything that gets overwhelming.

Spiritual Wellness

□ Mentally prepare for the whole trip. Think about your destination. A conference, a new city, an opportunity. Try to imagine yourself in conference sessions, sleeping in an unfamiliar place, and meeting new people.
□ You will need some quiet or personal time while you’re away (everyone does!). Be sure to plan for it.

Intellectual Wellness

□ Choose your conference sessions wisely. Be sure to select alternates in case your selected session turns out to be a disappointment.
□ Most people depend on their mobile devices for information of all kinds during conferences. Be sure to bring your charger and, if possible, a mobile charger and/or extra battery.

Occupational Wellness

□ Have a prepared “elevator” speech so that you can quickly tell new people about yourself and your work.
□ Conferences are wonderful opportunities to learn more about your profession and explore new avenues within that profession. Look forward to falling in love with your work all over again!
□ Keep in mind the goals that you have set for yourself, personally and professionally, and the goals of your employer. You’re going to make good things happen at this conference!

Created by Ted Chaffin, Sara Jeffress, Jennifer Turner, and Laura Warren­Gross (ALA Emerging Leaders 2008)
Revised by Amanda Avery, Dory Cochran, and Jenny McElroy (ALA Emerging Leaders 2016)