Surviving academic conferences

My yearly national conference is coming up this week and it has me Amazon prime-ing myself so many items that I need to keep it together at academic conferences. Germs, lack of food, nerves…academic conferences are a nightmare on my body. But, keeping a few items in my bag goes a long way. Here’s what I’ve needed in the past.

1) Sweat Guards.

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Are you giving a talk? You’re going to sweat. Prolong the life of your blazer by sticking these adhesive sweat guards in it (I actually put them in my shirt usually). They block out pit stains so you can continue to gesture wildly while explaining your research, without being embarrassed.

2) Immune system support.

I always pack Zicam nasal swabs. The melty tablets, or taking Zinc in pill form, are really hard on my stomach. These are great for when you feel a cold coming on. Also, hand sanitizer…I need so much of it. Also, this doesn’t fall in the ‘immune system’ category, but Tums, Immodium, and Advil will save your life. 

3) A white noise machine.

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Possibly the most high maintenance item on the list, but a huge lifesaver when the people in the hotel room next door are loudly practicing their conference talks at 2 am (which totally happened to me at my last conference..). This guy is tiny enough to take with you, and I use mine at home every night!

4) Blister solutions.

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I usually bring moleskin (which I precut at home) and band-aids. Doling them out at conferences is a great way to make friends. Also, if you’re a heel wearer, FAST FLATS! Truly a great invention. And people compliment me on mine a lot after their third conference mixer/glass of wine when they are jealous. 

5) Food.

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Is it weird to Amazon yourself Cliff Bars and instant oatmeal cups? Well, we’re in grad school and have no time, so I say do it. Oatmeal cups really help with the “this conference hotel only has one Starbucks and all 500 of us are in the line at 8 AM” situation, because chances are, your room will have a microwave. While you’re at it, those Starbucks VIa packets are probably a better bet for a strong cup of coffee than the hotel room coffee maker. 

There you have it. Godspeed, academic conference goers. My conference outfits are coming this week. 

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