Lane Shuler of the slam poetry duo I.N.K. here. Conference travel season is upon us. There’s a good chance that you, or someone you work alongside will be traveling across the country to see some amazing acts at an APCA or NACA conference. But, it’s also possible that you, or students that will be traveling with you, may be traveling for the first time. Here are some tips to make your travel as easy as possible, and to keep you from looking like a total newb.
I’m going to let you know how to put together the best road trip ever!! Courageous and I have put in some major hours on the road, and have turned road tripping into a fine art. Check out some of our top tips-
Pre Trip Supplies
Pack up and pack light, but don’t forget why you are making this trek in the first place. Make a list of different available venues for acts on campus. Not all venues are created equal and you want to have the right fit for different artists. A comedian may prefer a night show in an auditorium in front of a 50 person crowd, as opposed to a loud lunch show in front of a 100 person crowd. Make an inventory of all the spaces on campus and what their best matches will be. Take a calendar with you and mark specific months that could be good fits for certain types of artists. Our poetry act, I.N.K., tends to get a lot of bookings during National Poetry Month, which is April. Keep things like football schedules, holidays, and spring break in mind as well, as these can be hurdles for your event, instead of stepping stones.
Pre Trip Tunes
First things first, put together your tunes! Ask everyone who will be heading to the conference to provide some of their favorite songs to the playlist. This is a great opportunity to find out more about your students and advisors, as I believe music is the key to the soul! And who knows, you may find brand new artists that you may learn to love and enjoy! These will be songs you can listen back to in five years and remember that road trip with those great friends! Try not to rely solely on streaming services, as you may hit some areas with no service. A good podcast is a nice way to break up the music, and to shut everyone up.
If you are on a longer haul, take the time out to trade passengers between cars. This will be a great way to make sure you are getting to know everyone on the trip, and may give you a chance to get a break from the overly energetic person if you are trying to nap!
Do some restaurant recon
Take a look at the road map and determine where and when you are going to stop and eat. Keep in mind the different dietary needs people in your party may have; this might lead you to different exits to make sure you have the restaurant choices to make sure everyone is satisfied. Try not to eat in the car. It will make things stinky and trashy. Also you’ll want to get out and stretch your legs!
Check out the road ahead before hand!
I.N.K. had a tour of Texas in 2016, and on one leg we almost ran out of gas and bottled water. We didn’t look at the map before hand and didn’t realize exactly how long the stretch was between Midland and El Paso Texas. Pack a first aid kit, and extra water and look at a map to see where gas stations are. Don’t mess around and get your caravan stranded, especially if you are in the west where the population is more sparse.
Try to pack as light as possible, your cars will have limited space in them, so show everyone some respect and try to keep your luggage small! It’s only a few days, you’ll survive! But again, make sure to keep room for bottled water and emergency snacks.
Stretch it out!
Make sure that if you are on a long haul to take the time to do some car exercises to keep the blood flowing where it’s supposed to, sitting too long without moving can cause some serious complications. Don’t be afraid to stop often to get some fresh air.
Pay attention to parking
Your hotel may have additional parking fees, don’t get blind sided by those. Don’t opt for valet parking unless you can afford it, and you have cash on hand to tip the attendant! There have been occasions where you can save major money by parking a little ways from the hotel and ubering over. It’s cheaper, but it’s a hassle.
There it is, our road trip travel guide! Do you have any road trip tips? Let us know what they are in the comments. We will be showcasing at NACA LIVE, and NACA Northern Plains. We look forward to seeing you there!
Get to the airport early
This one seems pretty simple. But keep a close eye on security times and things like that in the days leading up to your flight. You might be shocked to learn how long, or how short, your TSA check in time might be. If you are in a big city with a big airport, do some research to and see if there are any gates that tend to get less traffic. That could save you some much needed time.
Never check a bag. Ever.
A couple reasons for this. One, don’t be the person that brings way too much stuff. It’s a long weekend. You won’t need more than a carry on. Two, since it is such a short trip, you don’t want to waste any time waiting for bags on the carousel, that is a complete waste of time. Further I get some added piece of mind out of having my bag close by, knowing that it won’t get lost, or stuck on a freight plane that got diverted to another city. A side note, don’t get cute with some odd shaped bag. Get the standard rectangle looking thing, it will fit nicely in most of the planes overhead compartments for easy storage. Finally, try to keep some spare space in your suitcase for swag you’ll get from agents and artists.
Prepare yourself for security
The line may be fast, and it may run slow. Head to the airport wearing a light, and easy to pack jacket. This is your travel jacket, it’s (literally) the only way to fly. The main purpose is to make security less of a hassle. You can place your wallet, phone, keys, and boarding passes in the jacket pockets, and then throw the whole thing in the bus pan all at once. After speaking at an event in Texas, the bus pan tipped over in the security machine and I lost my boarding pass and ID. They ultimately retrieved it from the machine, but not without a mild heart attack on my part. The travel jacket will also provide warmth on the plane, because it’s likely to be super cold. Another good strategy is to wear shoes that will slip off easily. Untie and loosen those bad boys while you wait in line. Also remove your belt and check your pockets for change and stray lint wads. Don’t be the person that holds up the line because you haven’t untied your shoes yet.
Consider your airport food
Your connecting flight may very well take you to a city you are unfamiliar with, with foods that you’ve only heard about on TV. I always do a little recon before the trip to see what types of restaurants are getting high marks. Chef Rick Bayless has a Fronterra Grill location right in ORD that literally grows it’s herbs at the airport in a rooftop garden, DFW has a location for Twisted Root, a home of crazy burger concoctions and the place where I first ate Kangaroo (DFW also has a Wendy’s that serves breakfast, which to me is super cool.)
Prepare for flight
I’ve always said first class passengers should get to board last, as the terminal is usually way cooler than the plane. But either way, it’s usually a good idea to board early, so you can have a place for your bag for fast exit. Pay close attention to your seat, don’t sit in the wrong place and don’t get too comfortable if you are in the aisle. If you are scared of flying, this is where it gets real. The good news is, you are way more likely to die on the runway, so once you are up and away, you’ll probably live to see your next birthday.
Don’t freak out
They used to have these magazines in airplanes called Sky Mall. It had a perfect blend of wildly useful and innovative inventions, and products that seem to be of no use whatsoever. These were great to peruse to get your mind off the fact that you are residing in a missile filled with germs, strangers, and Biscoff dust. Speaking of, when they offer pretzels or cookies, you take the cookies every time. If you feel turbulence, don’t panic. If you need reassurance, find a guy in a suit, he’s a frequent flyer, if he doesn’t look scared, you don’t need to be scared. If he looks scared, find a flight attendant, if he doesn’t looks scared, you don’t need to be scared. If the flight attendant looks scared, we may have a problem. Also, don’t go pee. You can hold it.
Alright, so the landing is going to feel pretty abrupt and jarring. Don’t sweat it.
DO. NOT. CLAP. No matter how bumpy the ride.
You’ll likely get to participate in my favorite pastime, taxiing. This is when the place drives around the airport looking for a parking spot. When you get parked, the seatbelt light will ding.
DO. NOT. STAND. Scholars are still debating one whether a “plane clapper” or whether a “landing stander” is the worse person. But if you stand as soon as the seat belt sign comes on, you’ll likely be standing for a very long time, possibly with your head cocked off to the right looking like a buffoon.
If you did what I said, and didn’t check a bag, grab that carry on and hit the ground running. Get the Uber order ready to go and hit request as soon as you can reasonably hit it. If you are renting a car, do not chance it by booking it at the counter.
So there you have it folks. You’re well on your way to enjoying this fall’s conference. If you have any questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or review the NACA Regional Conference Guide for additional information about the conference.