Every year, tens of thousands of people flock to Las Vegas to attend CES, so being there in the thick of it is almost always an overwhelming experience — especially if it’s your first time attending. But fear not! We here at Digital Trends have collectively amassed decades of CES experience, and in order to help you make the most of CES 2020, we’ve distilled our best tips and tricks into a handy little guide. It doesn’t matter if you’re an exhibitor, a media person, or a visitor just passing through for a day — the nuggets of wisdom you’ll find below are universally helpful. Enjoy!
Stuff to pack
Preparation is key to having a successful CES experience. Here are some must-bring items you should stuff in your bag before you leave:
Regardless of who you are and what you’re doing at CES, chances are pretty good that you’ll be on your feet a lot. If you can’t ditch your oxfords or heels for a pair of running shoes, I highly recommend outfitting your formal shoes with some cushy insoles. You might also want to snag a pair of blister pads and stick them in your bag, just in case. Your feet are your vehicles at CES, and you can’t risk them breaking down.
CES is basically a giant petri dish. People from all over the world fly to the show shortly after visiting their families during the peak of flu season, so it’s essentially a giant, multicultural virus exchange. Act accordingly: Sanitize your hands regularly, avoid touching things that other people touch a lot whenever possible (doorknobs, keyboards, point-of-sale terminals, etc.), and take immune-boosting supplements all week just to be safe.
Charging stations are even more scarce at CES than they are at most airports, so it’s a great idea to pack an extra battery or two to juice up when your phone or laptop starts getting low. This is kind of a no-brainer, but it’s also one you really don’t want to forget
Snacks & water
Food at the convention center is typically pretty awful. It’s low in quality but high in price, yet there’s almost always a long line for it. If you’re a press person, you can get free lunch if you show up to a press booth at noon sharp — but don’t expect good eats, and don’t arrive more than a minute late. The lunches go fast. Just toss a couple of snacks and a bottle of water in your bag before you leave the hotel and use those to tide yourself over until you can get away from the Las Vegas Convention Center to find some real food.
You’re going to do a lot of close-quarters talking at CES, and the best way to make a bad impression with everyone you meet is to blow a bunch of hot halitosis at them. Do yourself (and everyone else) a favor by packing some mints — and when we say mints, we mean mints. Not gum. You have to spit out gum, and trying to find a trash can on the show floor is a great way to waste 10 minutes.
These things are a godsend if you plan on being on camera. They remove excess oil, which not only helps you avoid a shiny forehead, but also helps sweat evaporate more readily from your skin, thereby making it easier for your body to cool itself down.
Stuff to do
Put all of these things on your to-do list and you’ll save yourself a boatload of time:
Avoid jet lag
If you’re flying into Vegas from a different time zone, I highly recommend using an app like Timeshifter, which is designed to cure jet lag with a few simple tricks and better prepare your body for the disruption. You want to bring your A-game to this show, so minimizing drowsiness is key.
Get your CES badge at the airport
There are dozens of CES badge pickup locations scattered around Vegas, but you can save yourself a ton of time and hassle if you stop by one of the many pickup spots at McCarran International Airport. They’re usually down near baggage claim, near the exit doors that take you to the taxi line.
Download the app
Past iterations of the CES mobile app were awful, but these days it’s pretty great. It’s particularly useful for navigation — especially if you’re not already familiar with the layout of the show and how to move between the various marketplaces.
Get security clearance for your bag
If you submit to a thorough bag search the first time you go through security, you can often get a sticker that indicates that you’ve been checked, and signals to other security people that you don’t need to be rechecked every time you enter a new building.
Hit the massage chairs
Every year at CES, there’s inevitably some sort of recliner company that sets up a giant pool of ultra-cushy massage chairs. Find this pool, and carve out a few minutes to bask in it. Just try not to fall asleep!
Stuff to avoid
Nobody’s perfect, but if you can avoid doing the following things, not only will you make your own life easier — you’ll also make CES better for everyone around you.
Nearly 200,000 people attend this show, and most of them take taxis to get from their hotel to the convention center. As such, the lines are atrocious. You’ll arrive way faster if you hop on one of the many shuttle buses provided by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). They have their own lanes at the convention center — and they’re free.
Bringing a rolling bag
Don’t do it. Just leave it in your hotel room. These things are a massive annoyance to everyone walking behind you, and the CTA has actually banned them from CES for exactly that reason.
Loitering in the walking lanes
In many of the big exhibit halls, there are designated walking lanes between booths. They even have yellow lines so they look like little highways. Please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t just stand in them. You’re literally blocking traffic.
This should go without saying, but while it might be tempting to leech some free Wi-Fi from the fool who didn’t set up password protection, connecting to an unknown and untrusted network is always a bad idea. If you don’t know who’s running the network, don’t connect.
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