8 Things You Can’t Go To An Automotive Aftermarket Trade Show Without

Bring comfortable shoes. Yes, they need to look professional. But they also MUST be comfortable if you’re going to survive this.

“You’re going to Las Vegas for work? That must be so much fun!”

Yeah, you’ve heard it all before. Dozens of envious friends and relatives, upon hearing that you’re going to some exotic locale for work, will inevitably jump to the conclusion that it’s “fun.”

But you know different, right?

Why don’t they try slogging down the aisles of AAPEX or SEMA for days on end — with nagging blisters — and report back to you about how enjoyable it was? Well, we know THAT’S not going to happen. And since you’re the one attending the next automotive aftermarket show, we need to stick together and get through this. (Because after all, it really is a great experience and probably why we keep coming back year after year.)


In no particular order, here are 8 things you absolutely cannot go to an automotive aftermarket trade show without:

  1. Band-Aids. Bring a few of them because your feet and ankles will thank you.
  2. And while we’re on the topic of feet, bring comfortable shoes. Yes, they need to look professional. But they also MUST be comfortable if you’re going to survive this. AAPEX is in late October this year, so start…. NOW! Start looking and breaking in those shoes. Never go to a show with new shoes. Many shoe brands have begun offering shoes that are all business on top and comfort on the bottom. 
  3. Water. If you’re headed to Las Vegas or any other locale, for that matter, you must drink plenty of water. It’s easy, in the hustle and bustle of a trade show, to forget to drink water. It not only helps get over jetlag but keeps your brain working in tip-top condition. 
  4. Your business cards. And lots of them. Going to a trade show without business cards is like trying to jump into a swimming pool without water. Even if you think you have enough, you’ll need more. 
  5. A portable keyboard for your phone. Unless you’re creating massive documents on the go that require a laptop, I’m almost sure you can survive an entire week at an aftermarket trade show without one. I’m not only trying to save your neck but your back because I’ve tried to carry a laptop everywhere and by lunchtime, it’s really unpleasant. With a portable keyboard, you can still bang out all those emails you need to send without the pounds that carrying a full laptop brings. If you MUST bring a laptop, use a roller bag. 
  6. Print out your schedule on paper. I’ve gone to AAPEX for 10 years now. I’m a techie and I love having all my schedules in digital form. However, something messy always happens with the time zones and I find myself panicking. Do yourself a favor and print out (on paper) your schedule for the week so you don’t fall victim to these time zone gremlins. 
  7. The location of the nearest big box drug store. For example, if you’re headed to AAPEX, you already know where the big Walgreens is. It’s truly an oasis in the desert and a place to get not only headache meds but bananas and those jeweled pens you see in the casinos for 5X the price. 
  8. A photo of the sign near where you parked your car at your home airport. Because without remembering where you parked, you’re not getting home. (You’re welcome.)

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