[IMGCAP(1)]Having recently barely survived a series of trade shows and accounting conferences, I offer up the following must-bring items in the hopes that you, unlike I, will be ability to return with sanity and staff intact.

1. All the business cards you have. That way, you don't have to worry about running out. Or, don't bring any—then you won't have to worry either. Plus, you can always pick up plenty at the show; complete strangers will be happy to hand you their card, and then you just cross out all the incorrect information and replace it with your own.

2. A bigger bag. Many shows and conferences will give you a big bag to collect vendor swag in. But what will you put your big bag in? That's right—a bigger bag. One with a zipper. If your 6,500 vendor pens spill all over the inside of the overhead bin, do you think that will make you most popular person on Southwest Airlines?

3. A compass and a comfortable shoes. CPE rules now require at least one escalator ride and a walk of no less than seven (7) blocks between show sessions for them to count for CPE; if the rules of physics prohibit this, CPE providers can receive a waiver from the rules of physics, or create any arrangement that makes it impossible for attendees to get to the next session in time.

4. A smartphone. How else will you tweet? You're not really at the show if you're not so busy tweeting about the show that you don't actually attend any of the show. Also, if you need to leave in the middle, you can still paraphrase what other people are tweeting, and make it seem like you're still there. In fact, nowadays you don't really have to attend a conference in person at all—except for the CPE.

5. Rain gear. Everything at accounting shows is about the cloud nowadays. (Get it? Rain gear? Cloud? Hello?) For some of the hype, you might also bring a shovel. The cloud will not get your whites whiter, and it cannot protect you from the zombie apocalypse.

6. A satellite truck. Since we're only into the second decade of the 21st century, it's hardly surprising that Wi-Fi access in major hotels and resorts is occasionally spotty. You'll want your own source of connectivity.

7. A case of bottled water and a tongue-scraper. Even if the conference isn't in Vegas, these will come in handy.

8. Your best smile. You'll be using it a lot.

9. Toothpaste and cheek massagers. See No. 6.

10. A really long, amusing story. Not to tell other people—to tell yourself, while you pretend to listen to whoever's boring you now.

11. A completely nonsensical (but non-offensive) statement. You can throw this out every now and then to test if whoever you're talking to is paying attention. If they don't react, you'll know you're the boring person from No. 8. (It has to be non-offensive on the off chance that they really are paying attention to you.)

These are just the things I'm bringing—what do you bring to conferences? Tell us in the comments below.

Next week: I start using my free pens

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