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August 13, 2017 6 min read

If you have never been to an Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) or National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists (NAHA) conference, you my friend are missing out! There is so much to see, touch, feel, smell, learn, and do that it can be overwhelming. I still get overwhelmed sometimes and I have been to a few now.

However, when I attended my first essential oil conference, there were a few things I so wish I would have known beforehand. If you are about to attend your first conference or are considering attending, this guide is going to be very helpful.

Packing

Don’t overpack.

No, really. I know it is hard to really keep things minimal when it comes to clothes, but if you can keep all of your casual professional attire to the basics, it will really help. Do pick your favorite outfit to wear each day and one pair of your favorite, yet comfy shoes that will go with every outfit.

You don’t need to bring every essential oil and then some. Bring maybe one or two hydrosols that you can’t live without in your beauty regime and maybe two essential oils. Why? Because conferences have multiple vendors at each that will be ecstatic for you to buy their essential oil(s). The Welcome Bags will also have lots of essential oils and products for you to love. So, if you don’t have to have it, leave it home.

You can always bring a suitcase and have it checked in prior to flying if space is an issue.

Flying

I am not going to read you your rights on TSA guidelines or how to best and safely use your essential oil products on a flight because you may know already but I have a few helpful tips. If you can manage flying with all of your belongings in a carry on and your personal item (bag, purse, backpack, etc.), here are some helpful tips that aren't always easily found.

TSA states that each passenger is limited to only ONE quart size Ziploc to store any liquid, gel, or paste product such as cologne, beauty items or other liquid cosmetics. This includes essential oil products.

Additionally, everything must be in containers designed to under 100 ml. I am mentioning this because that lotion, shampoo, or toothpaste you made with essential oils falls under these regulations. So, if you want to bring those along with any other essential oil product, it must all fit into one quart size Ziploc to be compliant with TSA guidelines.

Additionally, you might consider double checking that the lids of any essential oils you pack in the Ziploc are secure and will not leak. If you ever have a question about a cap’s seal, you can utilize some tape to make sure no leaking occurs.

If you need more information on flying with essential oils, take a look at this.

At the Conference

Look at the schedule of Events/Speakers.

Before the conference starts, look at the list of speakers and what they are going to be talking about. Not every speaker will be discussing something you are interested in. But if you are there to get your CEUs (continuing education units/credits), you should at least take a few moments to acquaint yourself with them.

Take care of your personal needs during breaks/meal times.

Once you have looked at the schedule of events/speakers, if you are going to sit through every lecture, make sure your own personal needs are met prior to the start of the speaker’s presentation. This includes going to the restroom, getting your cup of tea or water, and silencing your cell phone.

Yup. I said it. There is nothing more disrespectful than speaking and hearing someone’s phone go off. Or seeing someone leave during a presentation. Think about it. If you were presenting information you were passionate about, how would you feel?

If you know you have an overactive bladder or a personal issue that may leave you needing a quick exit, which some of us do, try to sit near an exit in the back of the room. This will allow you to not interfere with the others as you exit and will draw much less attention to your needs.

Attending your first essential oil conference

Conference Vendors/Exhibitors

Next, look at all the vendors that will be available at your conference. Are there any you would like to talk to? Are there going to be any distillers there? Any mentors or teachers? Make time in your schedule either before the conference presentations or after to talk to each vendor.

It is important to note that every vendor attending is sponsoring the conference in some way. So if you can make time to at least say hello - even if you have no intention in purchasing anything from them, it will go along way in building relationships for you and encourage vendors to continue sponsoring the conferences.

Some vendors will allow you to sample their products and purchase while you are at the conference. Some vendors will offer essential oils, hydrosols, skincare products, books, and some will even have CBD. Many, if not all of these items are typically available for purchase from vendors.

If you think you will want to purchase something, keep in mind what you have room for. Especially if you only have a carry on. Otherwise, you will be checking that carry on for your flight home so you can buy a few more essential oils…which is always an option! I know I will have an option for conference attendees to purchase online during the conference and have their order shipped to them so they can avoid the potential packing issues.

Prizes are a thing!

While the tote bags that are filled with samples of essential oils, skincare, fixed oils, and other neat items, they are a bonus for attending. They are not the prizes I speak of. Each type of conference I have attended has always had something to give back to the attendees while raising funds for the next big conference. 

Typically, there will be a room where many practitioners and various aromatherapy business owners have donated lots of products just waiting to go home with you! Most of the time these products are available by donating a few dollars to get your drawing number. A note of caution - do not throw away your matching drawing number and write neatly so you can be contacted if you are only attending one day of the conference. You could be the winner of an amazing donation and not know it if your handwriting isn't legible or you lost your ticket number!

Attending your first essential oil conference

A short Note About Attending a Conference

While the sights, the smells, products, and the learning we all gain from attending conferences can be amazing, there is something else important to note.

Leave your judgement at home.

We are all people. We are all seeking our tribe of close friends that we can rely on, ask questions, and bounce ideas off of. We are all unique and wonderful individuals who are passionate about essential oils and everything aromatherapy.

Get to know others you would not normally talk to.

Make sure you introduce yourself and get to know a few people if not several while you attend. You never know, a few of the people you get to know may end up being lifelong aroma buds and your next conference roommate. I know I have made some pretty amazing friendships while at workshops and conferences!

Sensitization is real.

Please, for the sake of those that may be sensitized to an essential oil, try to use the least amount of essential oil possible as your perfume. Over the last several decades many vintage aromatherapists and even those that are joining us newly may have sensitizations to essential oils that you absolutely love.

These sensitizations can often ruin a conference for attendees because of all of the various aromas coming not only from vendor areas but also also from other attendees. A colleague of mine recently attended a conference with me and I discovered just how miserable sensitization can make someone.

So please, if you can live without wearing your essential oils for a day or can use less than normal, please consider it at conferences for the sake of others well being.

The Most Important Guideline for Attending a Conference

Have FUN!

Go out with your new friends and enjoy a meal or the sights with them. It doesn’t matter what you do, just have fun!

I remember my first conference. I was sooo nervous! I was so nervous I wasn’t sure what to expect. I actually planned on sitting in my room the entire time and working. Thank goodness I had met a few people prior to it and had them as roommates! I would have missed out on some amazing memories!

Conferences aren’t just about getting new aromatherapy products, learning, or anything else like that. They are an opportunity to for you to delve deeply into your passion and connect with others just like you.

Conferences aren't just for health practitioners and aromatherapists.

They are open to everyone. So, if you want to learn what aromatherapy is really all about, attend a conference and get to know the people that frequent them. You will be amazed at the knowledge, the professionalism, and the love they freely share!

Start saving your pennies now and planning to attend the next conference! I hope I will get to meet you there.