Strategy for Conferences

Conferences.  Love ’em or hate ’em, chances are they’re a part of any road warrior’s year.  While full of networking events and meetings, they can also be a minefield of long days and crappy food.  Next week Weds-Fri I’m attending a regional industry conference in Fort Worth, TX. Here are some of my strategies for success.
Comfy Shoes
Comfy Shoes
Conferences involve a TON of walking.  Often there’s a hike from your hotel to the civic center, not to mention the miles walking the expo floor visiting all the booths.  Wearing shoes that are comfortable for all that walking is key.  Of course, it’s tough to find shoes that are both professional and comfortable (at least if you’re a girl – men have it a bit easier).  In the past I’ve worn Naturalizer brand shoes, which are dressy but have a cushy sole.  This conference I might see if my black on black Toms are inconspicuous enough to be considered professional.  Biggest advice – don’t wear heels unless you’re going out for dinner or a special event.
Pack Snacks
Healthy Snacks
My company usually chooses Hilton brand hotels for travel, which have great breakfasts available.  During conferences we’ll often pick a different hotel brand that is cheaper or closer to the venue and sometimes these off-brands don’t have breakfast available (or the selection is sub-par).  For this reason I like to have some snacks packed for a healthy breakfast.  Also when you’re on the convention floor it is never a guarantee that you’ll be able to stop for lunch, so having something to stave off hunger is key.  I like RX bars, carrots or nuts. Even having a protein shake on hand is great for a breakfast choice.
Make Some Goals
Make some Goals
Whenever I have something tough for work like an on-site meeting or a conference I plan a few easy, but achievable goals for the week.  In January I had a week-long company meeting at our corporate office where I knew that lunches and dinners would all be out to eat and free time would be tight.  I made it my goal to achieve two simple things: 1) I would get my 3 workouts in that week, and 2) I would eat a vegetable at every meal.  That’s it.  They did take some planning and thinking to achieve, but they weren’t impossible.
For my workouts that week I planned 2 of them in the AM before our meetings and one on Saturday morning.  During lunches and dinners I wouldn’t deprive myself, but I would always get at least a side of vegetables (side salad, broccoli) with my meals.  For instance, one night we went to Red Robin and I got a burger, but had steamed veggies as my side.  And I snuck some fries from one of my coworker’s endless baskets. It worked! Making the goal kept me thinking healthy and felt awesome when I achieved it.
What are your conference survival strategies? Let me know in the comments below!