MoSGA Board member Mary E. Celeste has offered us some tips on getting the most out of our NGS Conference experience in May 2008. This is the final installment of her very informative guide. Thank you, Mary!
NOTE: Mary is not an official NGS spokesperson- these tips are based are her own past attendance at national genealogical conferences.
MARY’S CONFERENCE TIPS, PT. 5
12. SPECIAL TIPS FOR SPECIAL NEEDS. If you have special needs, don’t be shy. For food allergies or dietary restrictions, be sure to make a note on your registration form and make a photocopy to bring with you to the conference. If a waiter at a meal event brings you something that you can’t have, let them know that you have special needs. If they say they can’t do anything about it, go find an officer of the organization sponsoring the meal and show them your photocopy.
If you have severe allergies, to peanuts, for example, I suggest that you have a traveling companion who can speak for you in the event you are unable to speak for yourself. If there is no one attending with you, be sure to mention it to your table mates. This is a little tricky, as you don’t want to sound like you’re just looking for attention. I would mention it casually, say you just wanted someone to be aware of your conditions, and then change the conversation to something related to the conference or genealogy. Also, be sure to wear “medic alert” jewelry.
I have a number of health issues, so I always carry a list of my various conditions, the name and phone number of the corresponding specialists who are treating me, and a list of all the medications and dosages I take, my personal medical history and my family medical history. I keep that in a special pocket in my purse and tell at least one person where it is. That way, if I’m not able to communicate, the list can be handed to paramedics and they will know what to do. I also carry a much shorter list for my husband’s meds and health issues. I worry that if something happens to him, I won’t be able to give the necessary information correctly.
If you have difficulty walking, wear your most comfortable shoes, regardless how old and battered they look. I’d also strongly recommend buying, renting, or borrowing one of those walkers with a seat (which will allow you to push your bag without carrying it) or the canes with the small round seat. Don’t worry about what people will think-– it’ll be a whole lot less embarrassing than collapsing on the floor! You can probably use the cane all the way to your seat on the plane and then ask the flight attendant to check it at the door. They’ll bring it back to you at the end of the flight. The walker may not fit in some airplane aisles, so you may need to check it at the door and use the seat backs as “crutches” to get to your assigned seat. You might also call the airlines in advance and see if you can get one of the front seats if you’re not able to do it yourself online. You’ll need to reserve your flight as early as possible. You should be able to board the plane before the regular passengers.
Get to know other people who are having similar difficulties. Chances are, if you want to go out somewhere, your more able-bodied friends will prefer to walk if it’s not too far. If you have some other friends who find it difficult to walk, you can share a cab. It’s more convenient, safe, economical, and fun that way.
13. BLOG YOUR WAY TO A GREAT CONFERENCE! This year, we have an outstanding blog (short for “web log”) that tells you all sorts of details about the conference. It is updated frequently and will answer questions faster than you can think them up. Take some time to read all that’s on the blog now and then keep up with the additions as there new ones appear. Here a link to the blog: http://ngs2008conferenceblog.blogspot.com/
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS As you’ve probably guessed by now, one of the secrets to having a great conference is to plan well in advance. If you’ve paid for your registration, social events, and other expenses long before the conference, you won’t feel such a financial pinch when you’re in the vendor hall. All in all, conferences are a pretty expensive investment. However, if you plan to get the most out of the experience, you may well find that that investment can pay itself off many times over.
So gather up your positive thoughts, your questions, and your courage and go with the intension of learning a great deal, meeting many new friends, making contacts which will help you in your research, and having a great time! See you in May!
Mary E. Celeste
Kansas City, MO