First Conference

Congratulations, you are going to your first conference!

That is exciting.

I have worked with friends to compile the following advice for your consideration.

Please note the below is from the point of view of a female and as such may seem "overkill" to those who aren't regularly concerned. Conferences I do not believe are any more unsafe than normal day to day life, but they put a lot of normally unsafe activities (meeting new people, being away from home, drinking, parties) in a very small period of time.

General Conference

  • @MisterGlass "I always pack an extra charge of clothes." (In case things get spilled on you, delayed flight...)
    • This remind me, pack an extra day of medications too!
  • Don't forget to eat, sleep, and drink water
  • If it's large (DEF CON, Gencon, DragonCon, etc) wear comfortable shoes or have slip-on to change into
  • Please shower
  • @MisterGlass "I would also advise people attending longer cons to escape for a bit. Remember you're traveling, so go to a restaurant, take a museum tour, do something to escape the con for a few hours."
  • @fredrichmaney "Always have at least one (appropriate for the venue) change of clothes in your carryon when traveling in case your checked bag gets lost or delayed. You can always find toiletries, but replacing clothes is hard/expensive."
  • JamSplat "If it's your first conf; reaching out online beforehand to find people to meet up with can help you feel less bewildered and lost when you arrive. Try asking the con hashtag for icebreaker meetups, etc."
    • Also see if there is an official chat channel for the conference in advance (IRC, message board, Slack, Discord, hashtag on twitter, etc.)

Gaming Conference

  • Test walking, sitting and eating in your cosplay before the event
  • Don't forget pencils and paper! Consider blank character sheets and a folder.
  • Don't forget your dice
  • You can't do everything, and there will be time you need to get from one building to another so be careful when booking events back to back

Hacker Conference

  • Find out if the talks are recorded, the networking opportunities can't be replicated at home, if the talks are recorded you can watch them later!
  • Tons of people will drink, you do NOT have to.
  • Ask questions if you don't know, many people are willing to share their knowledge. Some are assholes, you don't want to know them anyway.
  • If it's large you probably can't do everything, pick your one major thing you want to do each day
  • Bring a backpack for swag, and leave room in your suitcase too
  • Pack wires and battery packs
    • never trust chargers anywhere, or wires
  • Bring a notebook and pencil
  • Pack water and snacks
  • Try and use cash, or a card you don't care if you need to cancel (a travel credit card that doesn't have lots of automatic things, and will be easy to monitor)
    • Consider turning off "tap" payment
  • Don't use the ATMs (DEF CON)
  • If it is DEF CON visit SkyTalks our stuff isn't recorded (I help run this)
  • If you plan to do a contest, workshop, or event PREPARE in advance, download apps, VMs, tools, etc.
  • I bring a conference phone (cheap phone on a pay per month SIM with a "conference" email, and twitter (2fa on), and apps for stuff, I also bring a clean laptop, both get wiped after the event
    • If you keep off wifi and bluetooth and NFC and don't use it on an untrusted network you will most likely be fine, but you may find that you want to participate in a contest, etc. So better safe than sorry. Also great as if you go pre-paid you can drop that number when you get home!
    • Don't download apps or updates on the wifi
    • I suggest using a VPN always and everywhere
  • Have you 2fa/mfa'd all your accounts?
  • install signal/telegram/wire
  • Consider most people know you online, make your avatar or handle something you can wear if you wish to be recognized
    • Name badge - like mine (name, twitter handle, twitter avatar)
    • Embroidered Patch with handle
    • Pin with avatar
    • Shirt or patch with avatar
    • Consider making your avatar your face
  • I generally skip business cards
  • Have a ham radio license, bring your gear!

You may want to do a safety assessment - and consider the following: