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ASHA Convention….Here I Come

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It’s that time of year again.  That time when SLPs all over the country are preparing for the annual trek to the ASHA convention.  For many, it will be their first ASHA convention.  My friend Tara has an amazing blog series right now about the ASHA convention, how to plan and how to pack.  You can find her at SpeechyKeenSLP.

Many of us are veterans of the ASHA convention.  This will be my fifth convention.  I do look forward to the learning, but I mostly look forward to that time that I meet up with my friends.  Through networking on outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, I have a new group of friends with whom I get to spend 4 glorious days a year.

I won’t lie, the build-up from ASHA is enormous, but the let-down when it’s over is almost the same.  The jam-packed exhibit hall, spending time with people you see once a year ane the rush to get to your next session becomes a part of your day and you miss it.  I spend most of the plane ride home torn between missing my family and just wishing that it was already next November.

Planning is key for the ASHA convention.  I will be taking Tara’s advice and planning using Google Docs.  Making a spreadsheet with all the courses I choose is much easier and phone/tablet friendly than trying to use that ridiculous online ASHA planner.  There will be computers set up to look up sessions, but those are usually pretty packed and you will need that time navigating the building.  By having a plan, I can easily run from one session to the next and not have to worry about finding a provided computer.

When I pack my clothes, comfort is key.  I am not presenting at this year’s convention.  I present throughout the year and enjoy having a time that I can attend other people’s sessions.  I go for a business casual look.  I will be spending time between sessions networking in the exhibit hall, at the Smarty Ears booth and the Yapp Guru booth.  I want to look the part.  I also will not be sporting formal attire nor will a high-heeled shoe be put in my suitcase.  You can dress nicely and be comfy at the same time.  There will be schools and businesses looking to hire at the convention.   You never know when you may score an on-site interview with either and you don’t want to interview in old ratty jeans and a sweatshirt.

I pack the bare essentials.  If it’s not a beauty routine I would utilize at home, I’m not going to use it at the convention.  I will take my bathroom toiletries, clothes, pajamas and comfy clothes for the evening and plane ride home.  I typically try to jam everything into a carry-on, but this year I’m checking my bag.  That way, I have a much larger suitcase and don’t have to skimp on the basics.  I can also pack all my liquids into my suitcase and not have to worry about removing them while being strip-searched to get into the terminal.

Another must have for me is my essential oil collection.  I won’t bring them all, but the necessity oils.  The oils I diffuse to help me sleep, perk up, for a headache and my Xanax blend.  Although I was very skeptical about the oils before I started using them, I have realized that I rely heavily on them.  I recently started feeling bad, a mix of oils in a roller bottle for my son and I and a mix of oils taken orally for me in a capsule have helped tremendously!  I didn’t even have to sign my life away for medication.

I travel with a backpack.  The backpack will hold all of my essentials.  I don’t travel with my purse.  I always make sure to have my iPad with my bluetooth keyboard.  If there is WIFI in the convention center, I can use my iPad to Tweet and to post on Facebook.  Also, working at 2 booths that are app based, it does help to have my iPad to demonstrate the apps.  If there is no WIFI, I can still utilize my Notes app and save information to post later.  I always carry my phone and my portable charger.  I will definitely need the extra battery power.   The other thing that I always have on hand are business cards.  I have a separate set of cards with my address and personal info and one with my blog address so that others can get in touch with me.  I’m hoping to make big changes to this blog and vendors may be an integral part to that.

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To say the exhibit hall is overwhelming may be an understatement.  In the exhibit hall, you will find companies selling products and books, companies giving samples of their product, companies looking to hire new SLPs, app companies, continuing education companies and schools looking to enroll new SLP students.  Make your wish list and map out the exhibit hall.  You could literally spend an entire day just in the exhibit hall.  Companies will be offering discounts on products which makes it even better!!  This is also the time to look at those products you’re a little iffy about purchasing or to trial products.   Time in the exhibit hall can be quite valuable.

My days, when not filled with the exhibit hall and sessions, will be filled with an early morning breakfast/meeting on Thursday for BCS-S, bowling with friends, dinner with Yapp Guru and of course, the closing party.

I can barely wait for ASHA to get here!

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