An Alt Summit Survival Guide + Printable Packing List

Coming up in less than two weeks, I’ll be teaching a workshop at the Altitude Design Summit in Salt Lake City, UT (our topic is authenticity in blogging…I hope you’ll be there). Since this will be my third year as an attendee and speaker, it occurred to me that I might have a few helpful tidbits that I could share for those of you who are new to Alt (or just a useful reminder to other Alt veterans). I hardly consider myself an “expert” but hopefully my past experience will give you a better sense of what to expect and a few ideas on ways to “survive” and thrive at Alt. Here we go!

Things to bring when attending sessions (Thurs-Fri) and workshops (Saturday):

  • Lip Balm – All that talking and smiling takes a toll on your lips (the first year I attended Alt I even got a chapped crease above my lip from smiling so much, ouch), and the elevation doesn’t help either. So come prepared with your favorite lip soothing balm.
  • Water – Speaking of elevation, if you are not accustomed to high elevations you can begin feeling the effects of it (altitude sickness) within hours of arriving. If you don’t have water with you on your flight, be sure to grab one as soon as you land and start hydrating right away. When other attendees are crawling into their rooms with flu-like symptoms (a sign of altitude sickness) you’ll be glad you did.
  • Business Cards – One of the highlights of Alt is meeting so many amazing and inspiring bloggers. Business cards are passed around like candy, so be sure to bring a large stack of your own to share (the more creative the better).
  • Business Card Case (optional) – You’ll thank your lucky stars if you plan ahead and bring some sort of a case (I like to use a small zippered cosmetic-style case) to store all the biz cards you receive. Otherwise you can look forward to a confetti of cards filling the bottom of your bag by the end of each day.
  • Notebook + Pen – You’re going to want to write so much down in the sessions you attend (that’s a huge part of why you’re going to Alt, right), so come prepared.
  • Snacks (optional) – I tend to get a little peckish between sessions, and while Alt sponsors usually provide tasty snacks during breaks, if you have specific health needs (I can’t eat gluten for example) it is wise to stash a healthy nibble or two in your bag just in case. I recommend, energy/health bars or trail mix.
  • Mints and/or hard candies (optional) – Just a little something to keep your mouth feeling fresh and your breath smelling sweet. 
  • Large purse or tote – Speaking of bags…definitely plan to bring a cute clutch or two for evening parties, but during the day you’re going to want something with a bit more holding capacity. Besides all the business cards you’ll be collecting, you will likely pick up goodies from Alt sponsors, packets from some of the sessions you attend, and of course, your water and all the other supplies I recommended above.
  • A Warm Outer Layer (optional) – I’m almost always cold, so this is a must for me…and maybe you too. It’s better to be prepared than distracted by goose bumps the whole time.
  • Schedule (optional) – Other than Saturday workshops and tours, you won’t be registering for specific sessions (just show up for the ones that interest you most). However it’s a great idea to familiarize yourself with the topics offered so you have a plan for your days. I like to write down my plan in my notebook so that it’s with me all day long. Also, this year Alt introduced “tracks” that cater to different levels of blogging expertise (so smart). You can find more about how that works and the session topics offered on the Alt site here.
  • Cute Shoes / Comfortable Shoes – Cute shoes are kind of a big thing at Alt (the first year I was not prepared and wore hideously old flats almost the whole time). Ideally I recommend wearing shoes that are stylish but comfortable during the day, so that you can rock something super glamorous for the evening parties. But if you don’t mind a little suffering in the name of fashion, then by all means wear those gorgeous (if a little painful) shoes during the day too!
  • Warm Outerwear (optional) – If you’ll be attending one of the offsite activities on Saturday you will want to be sure to bring a warm jacket, boots, and maybe a hat, scarf and gloves too. It gets cold in UT.
  • Smart phone / web-enabled device – You’re going to want to share and stay on top of all things Alt via Twitter and Instagram, so come prepared. Just be sure to set the ringer on vibrate during sessions.
  • Camera (optional) – if you love taking photos, you may want to bring a camera along each day. You can also snap photos with your phone if you’d prefer.

Good to Know:

  • Introductions – When introducing yourself to Alt attendees, be sure to say not only your first name but the name of your blog as well (i.e. “Hi, I’m Ez from Creature Comforts”). People are more likely to recognize you because of your site name, and it makes things flow much more smoothly.
  • Social Media – If you don’t already, you should seriously consider setting up a twitter and instagram account before leaving for Alt. Tweeting and ‘Gramming go hand-in-hand with the conference, and you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to further engagement with your blog community and the people you meet at Alt.
  • Share the Love – Speaking of tweeting / instagramming…it’s awesome (and much appreciated) to spread love for the sponsors and speakers of Alt via your social media accounts (they’ll be giving out the twitter names of sponsors and speakers at the conference – keep a lookout for those).
  • Dive In – It’s natural to be nervous about meeting so many people, and even more so if you admire those people and their blogs. But don’t let that keep you from walking up and talking to someone you’ve been wanting to meet. I’d say that 99% of people at Alt are friendly and warm (that other 1% is probably just incredibly nervous and not coming off well). Because seriously, who wouldn’t want to get to know someone who is a part of their blog’s community?! I hope that I get to meet all of you at Alt! 

A note for fellow introverts: Alt Summit is a whirlwind of meeting and making new friends, hearing about and absorbing a massive amount of new information…and if you’re introverted like me it can be a little bit (or a lot) terrifying. Wonderful yet terrifying. So I wanted to include a special note with this “survival guide” so that if you find yourself clinging to the back walls or sitting in the swanky ladies room too overwhelmed to exit, you can rest assured that you are not alone. Hang in there. Here’s how I get through it:

  • Listen to yourself / be kind to yourself – There is no need to berate yourself or feel that there is something wrong with you if introducing yourself to a room full of strangers doesn’t thrill you. I personally try to make my focus more about connecting with the people that I do meet, over pushing myself to shake the hand of every single Alt attendee. Keeping this goal in mind helps to eliminate some of the stress that can otherwise begin to feel overwhelming.
  • Just breathe – Every year I’ve attended Alt, I’ve needed to slip away to my room at least once for a little solitude…to just breath and process before returning to the day’s events. And if I’m being honest, I have to say that sometimes I cry a little bit too…not because I’m unhappy, but because I just get so easily overwhelmed. It might not feel ideal in the moment, but allowing myself the time to just breathe and let those feelings out gives me the jumpstart that I need to be fully engaged during the rest of the day. Bottom line – do what you need to do to care for yourself.
  • Beware the comparison trap – This might apply to every Alt attendee, but even more so if you are prone to over-analyzation (like me). Because the thing is…you are going to meet amazingly talented, stylish, witty and charismatic bloggers at Alt. Some of them may appear to have it more “together” than you feel you do, or may seem as though every move they make is rewarded with wealth and success. Because of this, sometime during Alt you might find yourself wondering why “they have it all,” what you’re “doing wrong,” or how it is that they seem to “have it all together” when you feel as though you are just scraping by. You may even start to wonder if you fit-in at all…and that’s why I want to assure you that every one of us deserve to be at Alt (that means you). Don’t allow the comparison trap to suck you into believing anything different! We are all on our own path, and it is impossible to know what sacrifices or struggles that “perfect” blogger may have been through to get where they are today. Every one of has started in the same place (with a new blog and zero readers). So hold your head high and be proud of where you are, how far you’ve come, and set your sights on where you want to go. Good things are sure to follow!

And now…Packing for Alt! I rarely ever shop for myself unless it serves a specific purpose, so every time Alt comes around I panic just a little bit when confronted by the sparseness of my closet. After a few shopping trips I’m still not sure that I have every outfit figured out, but I’m close. To help myself out I decided to create an Alt Summit Packing List. You are welcome to download it for yourself too! I hope it will come in handy for you.

Do you have any questions about Alt that I didn’t cover in this post. Is there anything you are nervous/worried about as a new attendee? I’d love to help if I’m able. xo Ez

P.S. I am not affiliated with Altitude Design Summit. This post is based purely off of my experience and opinion.

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  1. Lisa // Elembee / / Reply

    THANK YOU so much for this post. I'm definitely shy in large social situations, so I was starting to feel a bit nervous about that.

    P.S. You're in Tulsa? That's where I live!

  2. Joy / / Reply

    Ez, I really, truly appreciate this post. I especially like the part about taking a bit of time to yourself. Since I work at home, I'm used to an abundance of quiet time and I was a little worried about getting overwhelmed by being with people all day for three days straight. This post made me realize that I'm not the only one. Thanks for that.

  3. Brittany / / Reply

    Thank you so much for being honest about your experience. I am very shy and was worried about how I would handle a situation like Alt. This post was extremely helpful.

  4. Meg / / Reply

    Ez! Thank you so very much for this post! This is my first year at Alt and as a writer I don't generally feel like I fit that perfect design blogger mold. Loved your insights and am now looking more forward to it than ever!

  5. Aimee / / Reply

    Although dressing impeccably awesome does worry me a little, I'm mostly nervous about talking to people–thanks for your tips. Looking forward to meeting you!

  6. Denene Brox Photography / / Reply

    Great post! I think these tips apply to any conference, so I've bookmarked this page for future reference. Thank you for addressing tips for introverts. I am introverted and it's so nice to read tips for those of us who aren't naturally gifted to "work the room." Have fun at Alt! I'll check back and hopefully see a recap.

  7. Moorea Seal / / Reply

    Fabulous advice!
    This will be my first time attending Alt and my jewelry will be in all the gift bags too. Very exciting! I was wondering what people normally do during downtime when there isn't anything scheduled. Do people just hang out in their hotel rooms? Go get drinks together? Schedule meetings with other folks? I'm such a planner :)
    xo Moorea

  8. Emily // Two Purple Couches / / Reply

    Thanks for all of these great tips, Ez! While I am not attending ALT (tear), I am attending a conference in the summer, and this will help me prep, both mentally and physically! The packing list is a super helpful tool!! I can't wait to follow along with all of the ALT awesomeness via Instagram and Twitter!

  9. Olivia / / Reply

    I will be at Alt this year! I'll be representing my company, Minted but I'm really excited to go to this event and get to meet fellow bloggers in person. Hope to see you there!

  10. kristin / / Reply

    These are awesome tips, Ez, thank you so much! I hope to get to some sort of blogger conference in the next year or so, and as an introvert those tips are especially appreciated. Have a great time!

  11. Jamie / / Reply

    Thanks for posting this. This will be my first year and it is so nice to know a little bit more about what I'm getting myself into. This helps calms some nerves. I really appreciate what you said about comparing yourself to others. I constantly catch myself doing that. Which can be very discouraging. Hope to see you there!

  12. marni zarr / / Reply

    oh , i love this list! this will be my second year at alt and it came as a surprise that i am even going! both what you wrote about shoes and comparing yourself to all the fabulous people that you will meet struck a chord with me. definitely branch out a bit and be brave with your clothing. it almost becomes more fun that way and for some reason when i dress a bit beyond my norm i feel like i'm playing my best self. most importantly remember that you do deserve to be there, each and every one of us has a unique spark, some shine brightly and others glimmer but we each have something to offer that no one else can match and that is what makes the experience fun. the more true you are to who you are, the more relaxed your will feel. even if you don't say a thing… just smile :)
    see you there!

  13. Mere / / Reply

    Hi Ez! This post is so wonderful and encouraging! I am really glad to hear you will be at Alt again this year!! This will be my 2nd year, and last year I was so nervous and overwhelmed. It was wonderful to have the chance to meet you at the Wednesday night dinner. This post gives me an extra dose of courage for this year! Thanks for all the tips and reminders. Hope we cross paths again at Alt.

  14. Tanya / / Reply

    You are a saviour! Thank you so much for this wonderful post. I must admit that I have a huge fear that I will compare myself to everyone else and, at some point during Alt, feel like I don't belong. I'm sure it's so easy to get intimidated and it is no reflection on anyone else but my own insecurities.
    Thank you for helping me realize I'm not along feeling this way and that there's no need to under appreciate myself!

  15. Ez / / Reply

    Oh…I am so happy to read your lovely comments everyone! Thank you! xo Ez

    @Lisa – You're in Tulsa?! We should try to meet up for coffee sometime!

    @Moorea – How fun! I can't wait to see your jewelry in the gift bags! People do all kinds of things during the downtimes. I tend to need a moment to clear my head (off in my room or something), but then I'm ready to meet up with new and old friends, check out the shops in The Grand America (the toy store and the macaron shop are my faves) etc. You may want to fly solo, or find a few pals and make plans. It's really up to you.

    @Olivia – I just ordered my business cards through Minted! Can't wait to receive them!

    I can't wait to meet all of you who will be attending! Please be sure to say hello if you see me! xox

  16. Vanessa / / Reply

    Thanks for taking the time to compile such an all encompassing list of tips for Alt. As a first time attendee, not knowing a sole at the conference, AND to top it all off, being an introvert, I needed the reassurance you offered. I'm certainly feeling the first day of school anxiety and excitement about Alt. Not to mention the added pressure of looking fabulous on top of coming across as having it all together, it could send a girl to the fainting couch. You've definitely offered some coping strategies for the conference and know they are very much appreciated!

  17. Emily @ Peck Life / / Reply

    I'm so happy you wrote this! I've been a fan of yours for such a long time so i'm really excited to meet you (and a ton of other people too!) but have a lot of anxiety because my blog is so tiny and this is my first Alt. Don't even get me started on OUTFITS…it's been a looong process and I still don't feel done, haha.

  18. Leanda / / Reply

    I won't be able to attend Alt, but I love your last point as I guess that applies to all of us :) You will rock it Ez!

  19. Marina / / Reply

    Hi Ez, I love your blog and your work, I don´t know if it counts, but just wanted to let you know, so you can remenber that we you need it :)
    Good Luck at Alt,

  20. courtney{a thoughtful place} / / Reply

    Wow. Fantastic. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. SO much helpful information and encouraging words for this new to Alt. girl. And I would have popped into the conference with my cute LITTLE purse. Thank you! Large bag it is. See you at Alt.!

  21. Jessie / / Reply

    I think so many of us are much more comfortable behind our computers than meeting real live people face to face, but I've found that bloggers tend to be the most gracious, sweetest, generous folks. I was so nervous last year to introduce myself to some bloggers that I've followed for years (Ez included!) and not one of them bit me :) I'm so excited to meet lots of new friends this year at Alt!

  22. Wendy Townley / / Reply

    This blog post has truly been helpful as I plan, pack, and prepare for my first Alt Summit later this month. Your insight is most appreciated. Thank you kindly!

  23. Kate / / Reply

    Excellent advice for visiting Salt Lake! I'd also add hand moisturizer. And bring your warmest clothes possible. We now have three to four feet of snow on and ground and that makes things really really cold. Finally, go to Pago, Finca, Takashi or Forage for dinner one night if you can swing it. Best food in town. Have fun visiting my lovely city all!

  24. Melissa / / Reply

    EZ, this post is amazing, and just what I needed to hear today! Thank you so much for being so candid!

  25. Bettijo @ / / Reply

    I must say I've seen the comparison trap looming already… and ALT hasn't even started yet!! This is my first year and I'm not sure if I'm more excited or nervous to attend. Thank you so much for sharing your insights… very eloquent!

  26. Melanie / / Reply

    EZ, I'm looking forward to meeting you at Alt this year! I'm leading a roundtable called The Power of Women: How Community Builds Confidence and Success. My first Alt tips post is scheduled for tomorrow. It was fun to read yours today! :)

  27. Jillee / / Reply

    This couldn't have come at a better time! Thank you Ez! I'm printing out the form right now. I have the gals from coming over tomorrow to help me "shop my closet" for Alt! Now I can write down what they "create"! Perfect.
    And your sage advice about avoiding the "comparison trap" is priceless. That's one of my (many) mottos…"Comparison is the thief of joy!" Let's all be JOYFUL at Alt! :-)

    Thanks again! Can't wait to finally meet in 10 days! Yikes!

  28. Patti / / Reply

    This seriously just saved me. I don't always travel well. Water, hydrating, chap stick and some breathing will be key for me : )

  29. val / / Reply

    I just keep telling myself that all the wonderful, smart, sweet people at Alt have no idea that I tend to be a wallflower, and that I won't get nearly enough out of this situation if I don't put myself out there. This post was a great reiteration for that.

    Seriously. THANK YOU so much for the packing ideas, as well as emotional tips. It's well noted!

  30. Erica Allyn / / Reply

    @Kate already mentioned this but as a native salt laker I must emphasize… it is FREAKING COLDDDDD AND SNOWY in Salt Lake right now!!!!!! Seriously, we are in the single digits with mounds and mounds of snow! If you plan on walking around outside at all, I highly recommend buying/bringing some sorel snow boots (any snowboots would do but sorels are so cute!). My Joan of Artics have been my savior this year! Also, in addition to the other food recommendations – Eva and Copper Onion are great too! Also check out the Chow Truck or Lewis Brothers for some yummy food truck options.

    Have Fun!!!

  31. Gaby / / Reply

    Thank you so so much for taking the time to share this with us, I'm really looking forward on meeting you ;)

  32. adrienne / / Reply

    Thank you for including real tips for shy attendees. I can't wait to be surrounded by so many creative minds but had already talked myself out of going to the parties. After reading your post, I might reconsider. Looking forward to your session on Saturday!

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  36. Mithra / / Reply

    Just when I was feeling a little panicky about Alt Summer 2014, you came along. Wonder how many newbies continue to find this post very reassuring.


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