Almost show time!

Can you believe the Annual Conference is less than 24 hours away? We can’t wait to see you tomorrow at 4:45 in the IBR West Room at the Washington Hilton. But before taking off to D.C., we thought we’d touch base one last time.

In the last couple of days, we’ve received a few emails from people who are unable to make it to tomorrow’s opening session. Though we may not be able to pair you with a Newbie or Buddy at this point, we have a couple of suggestions:

  • For Saturday-only first-time attendees, we will have a table at the hotel’s continental breakfast marked “Newbies” and you’re more than welcome to join us there. Breakfast is from 7:30am to 8:15am at the International Terrace.
  • Our wrap-up session will be on Saturday at 12:30, at the IBR East. Even if you couldn’t make it to the opening session, our debriefing will be packed with useful information to help you process and organize all the information and contacts you’ve made in the last few days.

Also, please keep in mind we might not be able to answer questions via email. We will not be monitoring our email as often during the conference, but we’ll be sure to get back with you next week.

And finally, before closing your suitcase, don’t forget to include:

  • A tote bag or backpack to comfortably carry any handouts, brochures, pen, notepad, tablet or small laptop, and personal items during the conference. A water bottle and granola bar or similar snack would also be good additions to your bag. But above all: Be sure to travel light! Please remember conference tote bags have been retired.
  • Your business cards, and copies of your résumé or any other business material you’d like to distribute to your new contacts or to potential employers.
  • Comfortable shoes.
  • Loads of enthusiasm and a positive attitude!

This is our last post before the conference, but we’ll be back next week with some post-conference thoughts before this blog goes into hibernation until next year!

Over and out.

My Routines for Transportation in an Unknown City

Helen Eby, frequent intercontinental traveler and conference-goer, shares her tips on how to prepare for a visit to a new city, a few indispensable apps, and what you should know about getting around DC in particular.

Familiarizing yourself with transportation is key when visiting a new city. I look for apps on my iPhone that provide support for public transportation. Today there are apps for subway maps, bus maps, train routes, train ticketing, and even light-rail ticketing. Some of the apps I will be using in DC are DC Metro Map and iTrans DC Metro.

No matter where you are, Google Maps is indispensable for general navigation. Taxi drivers abroad even use this app for directions, and it has excellent information on how to connect with public transportation.

My first stop when I get off the plane is the information desk in the baggage claim area. They often sell loaded cards for the subway system and can tell you where the nearest stop is. They also tell you which subway line to take to get to your hotel and can provide paper maps of the city. Alternatively, they can recommend the cheapest shuttle for getting to the hotel or to a taxi stand. I often take a taxi, because I don’t always want to walk around alone in an unfamiliar city with suitcases.

I also contact the hotel ahead of time to ask them what the best way to get to the hotel is. The front-desk staff has that answer memorized! (Bonus app: Hilton Honors, which offers a digital key to your room!)

For affordable alternatives to taxis, check out apps like Uber and Lyft. Download the app before your trip to explore your options and avoid having to find wifi or use data to download the app when you land. (The app automatically detects your location using GPS, but you can manually set your pickup spot and destination to investigate pricing and travel time in advance.)

A word of warning: Shuttles are often less expensive, but they make lots of stops before you get to your destination. In one city, my 20-minute ride lasted an hour and a half. I got off the plane late at night and ended up wishing I had paid for the added convenience. Ask first. In big cities like Madrid and New York, I take a taxi to the hotel, but on the way from the hotel to the train or the airport, I might do things differently (by then, I’ve gotten my bearings.)

Rush-hour traffic in Washington, DC can be either a nightmare or a spectacle worth watching, depending on your perspective, because of the motorcades for government officials. On my last trip, a 15-minute taxi ride took 45 minutes. This time I am using the subway.

When taking the trains, there are often many lines using the same track. The locals know exactly how to identify them. I ask them to help me, because I have ended up in the wrong place before.

I make sure I have good walking shoes. If something is five blocks away or even 10, I am more likely to walk than use a transportation system I’m unfamiliar with. After all, this is faster than walking to the stop, waiting for the train or the bus, and then walking to your destination.

As for DC, the city redefines the city block—government buildings are huge and can take up a whole DC block. On that note, if you visit any government offices, check your pedometer after visiting several offices in the same building! Let’s just say many people who work there have comfortable shoes. Leave the hotel with what you can carry easily for a good walk! If you are sightseeing, keep in mind water fountains can be few and far between. You might want to have a way to carry a water bottle. And check the weather to see if you’ll need an umbrella. No one likes being wet and cold!

I always arrive at conference cities a day early to get my bearings, get over jet lag, take in a few sights, find my favorite restaurants, and just feel relaxed. I often meet other attendees, and we do some sightseeing together. No business talk; we are in “off” mode. It’s also nice to stay after the conference. Going to DC and not seeing the Smithsonian, for example, would be a real pity. Last year I went to the Congreso San Jerónimo in Guadalajara and saw the book fair and attended the conference, but didn’t see the city at all. I really missed out. (I was rushed because I was getting ready for my daughter’s wedding two weeks later!) This year, I’m making up for it by taking an extra week in Guadalajara with my husband. I can hardly wait to get to know the city better in November!

But for now, DC awaits. See you at the conference!

Helen Eby, prolific conference-goer

Local Favorites and Things to See in D.C.

If ATA58 will be your first visit to Washington D.C. – or if you haven’t been there in many years – it is definitely worth your while to take a break from the conference, or even arrive a day or two early, to take in the sights of this historic and beautiful city. D.C. is a little of everything: a capital city, a college town, a hub for major corporations, and a booming metropolis. Below are a few ideas we came up with to keep you busy sightseeing whenever you have downtime during the conference. Almost all of these locations are free to enter and view, though some may require an admission fee for tours and other sightseeing. The nearest Metro station to the conference hotel (Washington Hilton) is Dupont Circle on the red line. The Hilton is north of the National Mall and most of the historic sites, though you can find adventures in any direction!

Dupont Circle area (source: Carolyn Yohn at

Kramer Books

The Phillips Collection

St. Arnold’s Mussel Bar

North of Dupont Circle

Smithsonian National Zoo

National Mall area

Lincoln Memorial

Reflecting Pool

Washington Monument

White House

Ford’s Theatre

Chinatown Express (fun eatery in Chinatown)

Holocaust Memorial Museum

Jefferson Memorial

Smithsonian Museums

National Archives (may require advance planning)

Capitol Building

Library of Congress (may require advance planning)

Northwest of the National Mall

Georgetown University

Georgetown Cupcake (be prepared for a long wait)

Southwest of the National Mall, across the Potomac

Arlington National Cemetery

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Readers, what other landmarks or sites are you excited to see in D.C. this October?