You received the announcement, “Registration is Open!”  I hope you have made your hotel reservation and registered for the conference.  Now, that you have made the commitment to attend Annual Conference in Orlando, on to some important questions…..what to pack and what to leave home?

The well-traveled librarian who has attended many conferences has immeasurable experience in this department. So, let’s start with the basics.  What to bring?

Step 1:  Clothes

          This is Florida.  Not the Florida you see on the Disney Channel, but the real Florida.  It will be hot.  It will rain nearly every day and the humidity is always 100%.  Add to the experience of our unique Florida weather, the fact that you will be walking A LOT.  So, in short, you will be loads more comfortable if you wear comfortable clothing and plan on changing them twice a day.

          The most popular conference attire here in Florida for the ladies is the simple blouse or cotton t-shirt (appropriately adorned with library ephemera), slacks, jeans, or skirt, and very comfortable shoes and for the gentlemen, polo or t-shirt (appropriately adorned with logos), slacks or jeans, and comfortable shoes. The true Florida natives (I am one) do not recommend flip flops, but a shoe or sandal with support.  A sweater or light jacket for the early morning chill of the conference hall is always good to have on hand.  Unless you are the keynote speaker, leave the blazers, suits, and ties at home, no one will be wearing them.  Don’t forget your bathing suit for a dip in the hotel pool, maybe a sundress or maxi dress or a button down shirt for a nice dinner or show on the town.

Step 2:  The Bag

          While you are in the convention center, it is a good idea to have a backpack or a strong tote bag, and a water bottle.  A small umbrella is good for keeping your hair dry during the daily showers should you decide to go outside of the convention center in the afternoon.  The following items are a must for any convention attendee:

  •       Cell phone
  •       Tablet or ipad or small notebook
  •       Business cards
  •       Address labels
  •       Snack
  •       ID, credit card, some cash, and conference badge

Step 3:  The Electronics

          Your personal device is a must have.  The conference app is the most reliable source of information.  Remember to carry your charging cord or a backup battery should you need to charge. It is quite popular to see others on Ipads or tablets taking notes or tweeting out their insights.  Join in the conversation.

Notes from the Pros: What to Leave at Home

Step 1: Laptop

          Really, I know it is hard to believe, but you just aren’t going to have time to use it in most circumstances.  Unless, of course, you are presenting.

Step 2:  Handbags

          If you are using a backpack or tote, your handbag will be extra weight.  By the end of the day, you will be so excited to not have the extra weight on your shoulder.  Not to mention, someone always leaves their bag in the keynote room because they are carrying too many bags.

Step 3:  The Extra Bag or Rolling Cart

          At every ALA conference, one can find a mobile post office on the exhibit floor for shipping all the wonderful books home.  I make a point to visit the post office to send books and other items home at least twice during the conference.  No one enjoys dogging ten thousand rolling carts and it can make the exhibit hall a dangerous place to walk.  Be a pro, use the post office.

          I hope you are as excited as we are to attend Annual Conference in Florida.  Next time, Secrets of the Convention Center and Surrounding Area

Vandy Pacetti-Donelson is a Library Media Specialist. She is a library advocate and Board Director for the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME). Find her online at or follow her on Twitter @VandyPD.

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