AASLH conference time is almost here! Last year was such a great conference, and I even wrote a few notes to myself to help remember a few key things. And perhaps they might help you. Annual conferences give you just enough time to forget a few things (I may have said yes to a second session. Sorta.) And I won’t know until I get to Detroit if I remembered to pack the SHA pin. Here’s what I wrote last year. -Melissa Prycer
Just returned from Louisville, where I was attending the annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History. And before I get back involved with the day to day of running Dallas Heritage Village, here are a few notes to myself I’d like to make for next year’s conference in Detroit.
- Don’t agree to present at two sessions.Yes, both were important topics (advocacy and partnerships) and it was an honor to have two sessions accepted. However, I didn’t get to go to a session that wasn’t my own until halfway through day 2. And I know I missed good things. Two sessions also meant that the prep work for the conference was a wee bit more intense. On the bright side, both session were well attended and we got lots of great comments. So it was totally worth it, but I would have liked a bit more flexibility in my schedule.
- Don’t begin the conference with a sleep deficit. It’s unlikely that I’ll have a college reunion the weekend before ever again. However, because I’m one of those people that likes to see as much of a city as possible (and I knew I had two sessions!), I decided to make sure that I arrived early enough on Tuesday to do some exploring of Louisville. Alas, that meant a 7:45 a.m. flight departure. By the time I got to Louisville, all I cared about was lunch and a nap. Instead of exploring, I dozed and watched old episodes of Friends and Modern Family. I should have just caught a later flight. Sleep is gold during AASLH!
- Remember the SHA pin! This is the only time where it makes sense to wear it, and by God, I earned that pin!
- Pack snacks. I was a good girl and got up for breakfast twice. But as the conference exhaustion set in, I probably would have been happier with a granola bar and in room coffee. Instead, I skipped breakfast and was starving. Usually, I do this. Not sure why I didn’t think about it this time around.
- Bring the travel neck pillow. I bought mine years ago in anticipation of a long flight to Hawaii, but I haven’t taken it on a trip since. I hate carrying it, but it would have been so wonderful to have it yesterday for the flights home. Because I was sleepy!
And here are a few things that I was smart about, and that I probably shouldn’t forget for next time.
- Pack multiple options for layers. This was possibly the coldest conference I’ve ever been to. In some rooms, you could feel a temperature drop of 10-15 degrees as soon as you walked in. So grateful that I had more than one sweater, because there wasn’t ever a time that I wasn’t wearing some sort of layer.
- Carve out time for special friends. My first AASLH was in 2008, and I really didn’t know anyone except a few friends from Texas. 2012 was slightly better, but I still spent most of my time hanging out with neighbors. And then I went to SHA in 2013, and I suddenly had a national network. I have one special friend in particular, and we made sure to set aside some time just for us. Of course, she also brought her adorable baby with her, so there may have been an ulterior motive of baby snoogling on my part.
- Take one official, offsite tour. I spent Wednesday in Frankfort and it was delightful. You have a bit more time to explore an institution than during an evening event, and you’re more likely to get some behind the scenes scoop. I adore behind the scenes scoop. I’ll probably never get to eat lunch in a Governor’s Mansion again, but that was definitely a perk.
- Bring a small purse. I hate overpacking, but having a small bag for evening events (rather than lugging the giant conference bag) was really nice.
- Don’t be afraid to shut a bar down. You can sleep when you’re home.