Thursday, May 1, 2008

Show Prep 101

According to my calendar today is May 1st and that means that in less than 2 weeks we leave for the Show – I can’t believe it. I’m sure everyone who is going to be at the Show is feeling the same way right now…a little frantic. So I’m here to help! Here are a few hints, tips and reminders to help take the edge off a bit.

1. Don’t forget a pair of flat shoes. Heels are cute but there will be some point during the Show that your feet will need a rest and it’s not very professional to be walking around barefoot (and you definitely wouldn’t want to in the Javits Center anyway!). I always throw a pair of ballet flats in my bag to switch into at a moment’s notice.

2. If you’re anything like me, you probably won’t eat too healthfully at the Show but it doesn’t mean you can’t make up for it in other ways. Walking is a great (and free) alternative to taking cabs or public transportation. Also, many hotels have a gym that you can use for free – pack some workout clothes and a pair of sneakers and you’re all set!

3. There are a few things you should keep on (or near) you at all times: band aids, aspirin, Tide-to-Go or some kind of stain remover, money, a pen or 2, business cards, mints and a nail file and clear nail polish. Power bars, granola bars, your favorite wrapped snack is important to have on had, too (Clif Bars are actually my favorite).

4. Here’s a tip: the Starbucks in the Javits Center is almost always busy. If you’re the type to “need” your Starbucks, plan to go on an off time (not when the Show just opens and not at lunch) or prepare to stand in a long line. In NY there is a Starbucks on almost every corner; you might want to grab something on your way to Javits in the morning. And in my opinion, if you’re only looking for coffee - the food cart (looks like a shiny metal subway car) in the Crystal Palace is a great alternative, it’s much quicker and cheaper.

5. Check your hotel’s website prior to arriving – you might be surprised what you get (or don’t get) with your room. I was very surprised to find that the W does not have a dresser for folded clothes but fully stocks their bathrooms with great spa products.

6. Bring an umbrella. If it starts raining you will probably have a hard time finding a place to buy an umbrella, and vacant cabs become 10 times harder to find. Believe me, I speak from experience.

Planning on eating out? 2 tips. 1 - Buy a Zagat, or do your research ahead of time. In my opinion, NYC is like going to a Chinese buffet – so much great food but way too many options. I like looking through a Zagat (which will tell you what the each restaurant serves and where it’s located) and not relying on “finding somewhere to eat on the way back to the hotel.” 2 – Make a reservation. A few places you’ll be able to walk right into, but at the end of a long day who wants to hope there won’t be a long wait? I like knowing that when I show up within a few minutes I will have some food in front of me! And if you’re planning on eating out on a Friday or Saturday night, have a Plan B when trying to make a reservation. Every May I try to eat at Carmine’s on a Friday night and every May I discover a new restaurant to add to my favorites because I can’t get into Carmine’s – next time I’ll try calling the day before!

7. Utilize those small corner stores to stock up your hotel room. Vending machines and room service sound like fun until you realize how expensive they are. On my first night in the city I stop by a corner store and buy a few bottles of water, a few late night snacks, and sometimes some magazines and Sudoku books to keep me occupied.

8. Pack a camera and your cell phone charger. These are two things you will probably regret forgetting if you do!

9. And lastly, as we’re all thinking of packing and getting ready for the Show – let’s not forget mom! Mother’s Day is May 11th and although I’m sure she’d understand how busy you are – she would probably appreciate it if you didn’t forget to at least send a card and some flowers.

Now here’s the fun part – I’m sure you have lots of tips that you’d like to add to this list so please take a quick minute to post a comment sharing, or tell us a quick story about your traveling “learning lessons!”

See you soon!


  1. Great tip! (note to self: umbrella!) Maybe also a corkscrew (in your checked luggage, of course) just in case you're too tired after a day at the show and you want to relax in your room instead. :-)

  2. Thanks for the great tips!

    J :)

  3. Since this will be not only my first time to attend NSS, but also my first time in NYC, I have been looking for any kind of hints and tips to help me to adequately prepare for the trip. These are great tips. You've listed things here I would have never even thought to ask about. Thanks!

    JoDitt Williams
    ...contemporary, colorful & delightfully unique!

  4. Thanks for the great reminders. I actually pack a few pairs of comfortable flat shoes in my freight... I find that changing shoes every few hours helps so much!

  5. Thank you for the great tips on shoes and the umbrella! I'm packing my Crocs (2 pairs) and my handy umbrella for sure!

  6. I look forward to this show every year! I am trying to find the link to travel planners to check on my reservation but only see a phone number. Can you provide the link?

  7. Hi Jeff - at this point travel planners is only working with phone calls. See you at the Show!

    And thanks to everyone who posted comments!

  8. This will be my 6th Surtex/National Stationery Show. I also go to the Atlanta Gift Show at least once a year (sometimes twice) and ocassionaly attend CHA. A few years ago I started a running list on my computer of things to remember to take to a show - this has been an enormous help - all I have to do it print it out and check things off as they are packed. Many of my tips have already been mentioned, but here's a couple more...

    - Camera Charger if your camera is prone to not holding for as many days as you'll be there. Also check the size of the memory card in your computer - nothing worse than finding out you don't have any more space.

    - When you got to the bank for your petty cash, make sure get some $1s for tipping - they come in very handy. I usually stick a few in my pants pocket so I am not groping around in my purse.

    - Lint roller

    - I take walnuts & a spoon with me and get yogurt at the corner store for breakfast.

    - I also take a candle in a tin container - it's nice to have your room smell pretty.

    - I always leave my hubby a "miss you card" (and he somehow always manages to sneak one in my bag.

    - Sound-canceling headphones for the flight (I am a firm believer that no flight is too short for these).

    - Fedex or UPS airbill. A few times I have ended up with more catalogs & materials than I bargained for and just don't want to leave anything behind, so I have shipped them to myself. You get off cheaper than paying for an overweight bag (especially theses days!) - if the airline will even let you pay for it - some don't, you have to remove items.

    - Extra glasses if you wear them. I lost mine once at a show and it wasn't a good thing.

    - If you don't have your own badge holder, look in an office supply store - I have one that has an open pocket in the back that is handy for stashing cards that I get as well as my schedule. And it has a zipper pocket in the back, handy for money so I don't have to carry a purse (I've left that in a booth before too). It also has a little tab on the side that a pen clips to. Having it is also handy when trying on the clothes you plan to take. Once I brought a necklace that kept getting tangled in my badge holder and had to take it off. I'd have known better if I'd tried it on with it.

    - If you have an appointment schedule at the show, print out 3 extra copies - one to put in the bag you carry, apart from the schedule you're using. One to leave in your room and one to leave at home with someone who can fax it to you if necessary. Overkill? If you've ever lost the only copy you have, you know it's not!

  9. Thanks for this beautiful blog!
    Nice work!