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Domestic Trade Show Travel Checklist


Despite decades of work and personal travel, anxiety still plagued me that I’d forgotten to pack or do one last thing. It wasn’t just my own packing list, but the myriad of details my team needed to feel confident when they arrived that caused the stress to build. The stress was truly unnecessary since all could be controlled with a little prep and planning. So my thanks to all the Road Warrior Wisdom I borrowed to start my list… and I hope you find some worthwhile tidbits below to make your life on the road a bit more Zen!

Advance Preparation

  • Review your advance shipment one last time to ensure nothing was missed. Any last-minute items can be overnighted to your hotel for safe-keeping prior to your check-in.
  • Compile a binder for each attendee from your company that includes local maps and information, instructions and photos of the booth setup, everyone’s flight and hotel arrangements, and anything else that trade show staff may need on site.
  • Update your calendar and your out-of-office message, and leave your complete itinerary for the team staying at the office.


  • Maintain a backup of all your critical phone and email contacts, including your 24-hour show contact and designated booth setup personnel. A lost, stolen or damaged phone can really leave you feeling helpless when at a time when you need it most. In addition to a cloud backup, a physical address book (along with printed copies of core documents) can be a lifesaver.
  • A first aid and personal care kit is a must. In addition to your usual list of toiletries, breath mints and hand sanitizer are important for all the meeting and greeting you’ll do. Bandaids and antibacterial creams will be helpful for unexpected papercuts or heel blisters from long days in dress shoes. In addition to your prescription meds, be sure to bring painkillers, eye drops, antihistamines, and anti-diarrheals for any unforeseen issues. Be sure to follow current TSA guidelines for packing liquids.
  • Your personal and professional travel supplies should include snacks, business cards, tweezers, duct tape, small scissors, a needle and thread, a leatherman or related multi-tool, travel iron, travel pillow, extra luggage tags, zip ties to keep booth wiring neat, and few zip lock bags.
  • Your personal tech supplies should include redundant systems in the event of loss or power failure. Your phone, laptop/tablet, a portable WiFi hotspot, multiple device charging cords/stations, a portable power bank, noise-cancelling headphones for the flight, and two USB sticks should get you through a tech crises.
  • For trade show attire, two pairs of comfortable shoes are a must. Be sure to pack a range of clothing for the exhibit floor, after hours events, sleepwear for the hotel stay, and airline travel.

Travel Day

  • Prepare your airline documents. Most travelers now check in online and are increasingly use digital boarding passes. Still, it can be helpful to print out a backup copy of your boarding pass, reservation number, itinerary number and purchase confirmation number.
  • Have proper ID. On Oct. 1, 2020, the Transportation Security Administration will ask all travelers to have a Real ID-compliant driver’s license or alternate acceptable identification to fly domestically. Travelers won’t be able to pass through security without it. Most state DMVs already issue compliant licenses, while others have been granted an extension to make their internal processes and IDs compliant. There are a number of other forms of currently acceptable ID. To ensure you can travel to all destinations of your choice, the State Department highly encourages any US citizen who does not already have a passport to apply for one now.
  • Observe rules for checked and carry-on baggage. TSA recently considered loosening security checks at some small and medium US airports. Due to these constantly-changing regulations, it’s best to always check current regulations. And since each domestic airline also has unique rules and fees related to checked and carry-on baggage, it’s worth checking the airline’s website for acceptable weight, baggage dimensions and other restrictions. Applying and paying for the TSA Precheck service maybe be a worthwhile investment for frequent travelers who want to save time at check-in and avoid the hassle of removing shoes, belts, etc. at security checkpoints.

For more tips on U.S. exhibiting, visit this page on our website. Have a safe trip, and a productive trade show!

tradeshows timeline sheet calucaltion roi
Trade Show Planning Timeline (PDF)

Download this all-in-one trade show planning timeline to keep track of your trade show deadlines. Our timeline includes exhibit design & build tasks, technology considerations, pre-show promotions, booth staff tasks, lead management and miscellaneous items. Also included is; budget planning information, a booth staff schedule, typical show services deadline list and a budget calculator perfect for trade show veterans and those newer to the industry.

About the Author

Nicole Klein, Sr Account Executive with Skyline Colorado, is an exhibit and event marketing specialist. With a formal background in PR and marketing, Ms. Klein was electrified when she first discovered the world of trade show exhibits and face to face events. She quickly recognized that with carefully designed and well executed tactics, companies could shorten sales cycles and improve brand positioning and the bottom line. Now, with over 2 decades in the industry, Ms. Klein brings to the table her knowledge of effective marketing, digital integrations and efficient program management to ensure her clients achieve great results.

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