Congratulations!!! The Radiology Society of North American (RSNA) has accepted your poster for presentation at the convention. Or perhaps, the Association of University Radiologists (AUR) has chosen you to make a presentation at the next meeting. When and how do you prepare for the trip? What are the best travel arrangements? How and when do you make your plane flight ? These questions and more I plan to answer to make your next trip that much easier!
Notify The Program Coordinator First
Most importantly, before you start to book the event, make sure that your program coordinator knows first. Why? If you forget to do this, you may find the hospital will reimburse you less than you think. Or, perhaps, the program will not cover certain parts of the trip. The program coordinator also has precious information on how to submit receipts for your trip. At many programs, you have to submit your receipts first and then get your money back later. In other programs, they may cover your expenses up front. All of this is important information and your coordinator usually has the answers!
Book The Hotel Next
Booking a hotel is usually the rate-limiting step for residency travel for presentations. Why do I say that? Hotels tend to book up first before the plane, the meeting, etc. Over the past few years, I know several residents who could not reserve a spot in their first choice hotel because it was already entirely booked. So, you should check your meeting website prior to booking. Often times, you will find group discounts for the hotel stay.
Some other tidbits for booking your hotel: First, stay as close to the conference as possible. You don’t want to worry about damaging your poster or arriving late to the event on the day of your presentation. And, you certainly don’t want to get stuck in a downpour! Also, make sure to review the hotel for your needs prior to booking. So, if you are taking your family, make sure that they have the correct size room, etc. Finally, prior to booking a hotel, also join the hotel club so that you can receive points for rewards for the next time you travel.
Make The Flight Arrangements
Over the years, I have found that it is best to book a direct flight if possible. Worrying about connecting flights can be extremely disconcerting. Sometimes, the plane arrives at its destination too late and then you miss the next connecting flight. The last thing that you want to do is to arrive late for your conference! In general, it is also safer and less time consuming to fly one direct flight instead of many legs. It is not worth the minimal savings.
If you are interested in flying as economically as possible, I also recommend several different possibilities. You can sign up for multiple price alerts from different airlines. Also, some websites let you know when the airlines have the best deal. These include sites like Hopper and Hipmunk. One article also advised following #airfare #flights on Twitter to get you the best deals. Check out the following article that I thought was extremely helpful: http://www.chicago tribune.com/lifestyples/travel/ct-best-time-to-book-airfare-20170614-story,amp.html
Finally, if you have not done so already, it makes sense to sign up for frequent flier miles at the airline you choose. Most likely, you will fly again and again. So, you may as well try to benefit as much as possible! Also, some credit cards accumulate frequent flier miles and give extra benefits such as free baggage check-in, etc.
Sign Up For The Meeting
In terms of signing up for the event, most meetings for radiology do not entirely fill to the maximum. So, you do have a bit of time. But, be careful. Some meetings have early bird specials and discount early bookings. Therefore, don’t perseverate too much. Also, make sure you book the event under the heading of a resident. At some meetings, residents get a discounted rate!
Think About Local Transportation To the Gig
Now, this part gets a little complicated. For most of you, taking a shuttle to the hotel is the most cost-effective and simple. However, others may arrive with other family members and plan to travel to other sites at the meeting destination. Or, maybe you want to travel a bit near the meeting after your presentation. In that case, consider renting a car. (It’s usually a bit more expensive!) Otherwise, if you just want to get in and out of the meeting quickly, stick to using shuttles or sharing a taxi with your friends to save a few bucks.
Keep Your Poster/Presentation Safe
Treat your presentation like gold! Make sure that it is safely ensconced in a cardboard roll if it is a poster. Or make sure, you protect your flash drive well if you need to present. In fact, I would recommend having a backup if possible. Last thing you want to do- notice you have a broken flash drive when you are about to present your topic!
Don’t Freak Out!
Obviously, all that hard work has amounted to getting to this point. So, you will do great. Practice your presentation a few times in your room, if you think you may be a bit rusty. These few days you should be enjoying the fruits of your labor, not worrying about your presentation.
Enjoy Your Travel Destination!
OK. You have traveled to such a great destination. Why not try to take advantage of the site? Plan some activities. Try some great restaurants. Tour the area if you can. Have some fun! Who knows if you will get a chance to return soon? Congratulations!