If you realize the day before you pack for the conference that you only have two suitcase sizes — a smallish duffle and a suitcase normally used for packing your entire family for a week — make a TJMaxx-run to get a cheap mid-sized carry-on. “All the swag” can fit into your computer bag. And if it can’t, it’s not worth bringing home.
When you read tweets that talk about saving room in your bag for “all the swag,” keep in mind that “room” and “all” are relative terms.
Be prepared for the fact that being dropped off at the airport alone, for the first time in years, can be a bizarre, panic-inducing experience. Have a list of mantras ready to repeat to yourself, things like “stop looking for your children,” and “no, the guy at curbside check-in will most likely not intentionally lose your bag because you forgot to tip him.”
Remember to never again use curbside check-in.
Be thankful that your husband is amused, not annoyed, when you call him “just to talk” 10 minutes after he drops you off at the airport.
Contain your disappointment when the food served at the food blogging conference is less than stellar.
When mid-morning hits on the first day, and you are crashing from your breakfast of a soggy croissant and over-salted bacon, already over-stimulated by all the extroversion, realize it’s probably best to take a breather and find some protein before handling a sharp knife in front of a video camera.
When being prepped to film your video of “How to Cut a Mango,” observe that the knives on set are much sharper than your neglected knives at home.
Try not to utterly die of embarrassment when you cut yourself on set of the Mango Video. Be reassured when they tell you about “the magic of editing.”
Be prepared for a moment when you offer your business card to someone and they don’t reach out to take it.
Even still, keep offering your card to people. The vast majority will accept it with a handshake and a smile.
Don’t be afraid to skip the late-night dinner run with all those fun people and hit the sack at 11pm.
Be thankful for Tylenol PM.
Next morning, be thankful for caffeine.
Keep in mind that the madness only lasts 48 hours.
Don’t be surprised when you actually learn things in your sessions.
Avoid coveting every iPad you see.
When you are no longer able to control yourself, and finally walk up to David Lebovitz and say, “I’m a really big fan,” don’t be surprised when he awkwardly looks down at his shoes as if to say, “Really? That’s the best you could come up with?”
Try not to focus on the absurdity of a scene where you are standing next to David Lebovitz at the Bay’s English Muffins booth feeling conspicuously gluttonous as you wait for your feta-and-jam-topped muffin while David requests “only butter” to let “the flavor of the muffin” shine through.
Remember that no one cares what you eat on your english muffin.
Take and enjoy every opportunity to have a conversation with a new person.
Buy the hotdog from the street food vendor at the Sweet Auburn Market, even though you’re not hungry. One bite will be worth the price.
Submit to hugging people that you’ve only previously known online.
Go to the party on the last night of the conference.
When you see David Leite, of Leite’s Culinaria, dancing to Blondie like a man moved by external forces, put down your plate of food and join in. The opportunity will not likely present itself again.
Don’t take it too seriously. At the end of the day, we all just write about food.