There are several conferences for homeschoolers.  The Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati is the largest in the Midwest.  These tips are based on experiences there, and may not apply to all conventions.

  1. Buy your tickets in advance.  
    You can get discount tickets online up until 2 days before the convention starts.  The prices increase at the door, and you might not get into some of the special speakers you wanted to hear.  Also, if you plan on the children attending the Children's Conference, you will want to book as soon as these become available.

  2. Ask for a parking discount.
    Usually, there is a parking lot offering discounts near the convention.  This could even be free.  Always worth asking for a discount.  They sometimes post this information on the convention website.

  3.  Bring a rolling cart.
    Especially if you plan on purchasing items at the convention, and even if you don't.  This is invaluable.  The bag you receive, while somewhat useful, will become full quickly.  Also, sometimes it is cold outside, but it is blazing inside.  You can put those heavy coats in the cart. 

  4. Bring a smartphone.
    Let's face it:  There is a lot of information.  You can use your phone to take photos, like brands on social media, take notes, etc.  But all that phone usage will drain your battery. There usually are places to plug in your devices, but they are usually not anywhere near where you will be.  Battery banks are readily available at most stores, but don't forget to charge it!

  5. Wear a good pair of shoes.
    There is a lot of walking, and the exhibit hall is all concrete.  A good pair of walking shoes will save your feet, legs, and back.  

  6. Bring a water bottle.
    Outside food isn't allowed, and all that walking makes me thirsty.  It is expensive to purchase bottled water, and it is time consuming to find a vendor and order, especially during workshops.  Water fountains are easier to locate.

  7. Bring Address Labels.
    There are tons of giveaways, newsletters, and sign-ups.  Address labels have most of the information these require, or you can make your own and add your phone number and email address so everything is there.

  8. Free first night.
    If you are only planning on going to network and shop, usually the Exhibit hall is free the first night.  The only down side is there are more people there.  The conference itself is very encouraging and helpful, and if you have the time, I suggest going everyday.

  9. Ask a friend to go.
    Or your whole family.  It is easier to navigate, you can divide and conquer speakers, and they can hold all your stuff.  Also, they can help keep you from buying things you don't need.  Family passes allow for your spouse, children, and even grandparents to attend, but your friend will have to get a separate pass.

  10. Pre-plan your itinerary.
    And plan for it to not go the way you expected.  Plan on going to your first choice, but have a backup just in case.  Look at the map and make sure you know where you are going.  I don't know how many times I couldn't find a hidden conference room!

I hope this helps you and your conference experience.  Did I leave out something you think is an important tip?  Email us and let us know!

Candace Granstaff