By Jen Krause, ONS Director of National Conferences

It’s finally 2016, and that means it’s the year of “Big Change” for us at ONS. For some of you, that might mean making your first trip to San Antonio for the ONS 41st Annual Congress. It’s an exciting new adventure, so you’ll want to be prepared when you get there. Consider these simple tips to make your first trip to Congress just right.

Leading up to the conference, you’ll want to acquaint yourself with all the great events available to you. Get choosey and select which ones you’d like to attend. You can create your own personalized schedule to know exactly inflatable water parks where you need to be over the course of Congress. In March, download the Congress mobile app to have your schedule right at your fingertips throughout the conference.

When it comes to packing, you’ll want to make sure you bring items that will keep you comfortable all day long while still looking professional. It’s important to wear your comfy shoes, as you’ll be on your feet for most of the day. We try to keep the temperature at a reasonable level, but you may want to bring a sweater along just in case. And don’t forget to take your tech. We’ll have free Wi-Fi in session rooms, so remember to bring your mobile phone, tablet, or laptop computer to take notes and get in on the virtual conversation on social media. You can tweet or post any important information you want to share with your colleagues back home, and share your photos on Instagram to show what a great time you’re having in San Antonio. Remember to use #ONSCongress! And finally, don’t forget your business cards so you can easily share contact information with all the other professionals you meet. You never know when you’ll make an acquaintance that turns into a valuable career connection.

As with any trip, it’s always important to tag your bag. Make sure your luggage stands out by attaching your very own Congress luggage tag—it will come in the mail with your attendee information in late March. When you’re retrieving your bags, you won’t have to search and scour the luggage carousel. You can also spot others who are arriving in San Antonio for Congress and make some connections before you even leave the airport.

We’ll be hosting a “Congress 101” session for new attendees and those who need a refresher on the evening of Wednesday, April 27, with an encore presentation early Thursday morning. Be sure to attend to learn all of the Congress lingo, figure out how to navigate the conference, and hear tips from seasoned Congress attendees. It will get your trip off to a great start and have you ready for the days ahead.

If you haven’t already, save your spot in San Antonio today. We can’t wait to see you there!