As you walk up to the Las Vegas Convention center for World of Concrete the excitement begins to well up inside you from your head to your toes, eventually breaking the surface in a big smile–you have arrived! There is energy in the air, electricity everywhere, and you are surrounded by the smell of concrete; there is nothing else in the world quite like it.

Whether you are headed to World of Concrete for the first time or you are a seasoned veteran, “the big show” can be intimidating, and rightly so. With nearly 650,000 square feet of exhibiting space it is hard to know where to get started, and nothing kills the excitement more than not having the right tools for the job.

Here are five tried-and-true tips to make sure you get the most out of your World of Concrete  experience:

1. Download and plan ahead

Not sure where to get started? Download the free World of Concrete Smartphone App and start planning ahead. This one is a no-brainer: save yourself a lot of time, energy, and wasted footsteps by choosing the exhibitors and events you want to see before you get there.

Start by selecting the ‘Exhibitors’ icon on your WOC App Dashboard. From there you can either browse through all exhibitors, or by category. I like to start by browsing through ‘All Exhibitors’ first; this will give you an alphabetical listing of everyone at the show. The alphabetical listing makes it easy to find all the companies that you already know you want to go to. Once you find an exhibitor you want to visit, simply favorite them by clicking on the star to the left of their name. Next, go through and ‘Browse by Category’, this is a great spot to look if you need a specific product or solution and want to see all the exhibitors that offer it.

When you have finished selecting all your stops they will show up highlighted on the maps feature or you can select ‘Quick List’ from the dashboard to see them listed by exhibit hall and plan the best route. Once you’ve stopped by a booth you can mark it as visited, that way you can make sure you made it everywhere you wanted to go and you wont find yourself walking a mile to visit that one booth you forgot to stop by.

Finally, check out all of the great interactive events at World of Concrete on the shows website and add the ones you would like to attend to your schedule inside the WOC app. The outdoor events are fantastic, but I would also highly recommend the Concrete Industry Management (CIM) Silent and Live Auction where you can find a lot of great products, tickets to exclusive events, travel packages, and equipment all up for bid. The best part – all the proceeds go to support the CIM program and future leaders of the concrete industry!

2. Start off on the right foot

Wearing the right shoes is a must!  For me that means putting on my Asics GT-2000 running shoes. Along with getting me across the finish line of a couple marathons, they have also helped me conquer the Las Vegas Convention Center for many years, which is no small feat either.

Size does matter, but that’s not the only thing that counts. It is important that your shoe has the right cushion in all the right places. The fact of the matter is, not everyone walks the same. If you have never done so, head to your local running store and get a fitting. Your feet, legs, and back will be thankful that you did.

Walking the aisles of the exhibit halls is hard; literally, all you are standing on is concrete with some carpet slapped on top of it! Be sure to step off the aisle and take advantage of the wonderful companies that paid extra to have padding added to their booths ... I love you guys!

3. Use protection!

There are many great outdoor exhibits at WOC and you need to be prepared for a lot of bright desert sunshine! So, whether you have sensitive eyes, or just stayed out on the strip too late, sunglasses are your friend. Remember to pack your favorite pair, but if necessary, you can usually pick up an inexpensive option at any of the souvenir shops for $7 or $8.

If you are a fellow victim of male pattern baldness like me, being outside in the desert also means wearing a hat so your head doesn’t get burned. If you forget to bring one, don’t worry. Many of the exhibitors hand out hats but they normally run out very quickly, so if you see a free hat, take it.  Another way I have had success scoring hats is by asking the exhibitors staff members for one. Look for the booths where everyone on staff is wearing a hat, they may not be handing out hats per say, but if you ask nicely, they usually have some extras lying around.

4. Don’t be a Plug Slug! 

Plug Slug /pluhg sluhg / n, A person who gravitates to a nearby public wall socket to charge a personal device (tablet, computer, cell phone, etc.) and takes an excessive amount of time to perform the task.

If you keep everything on your phone like I do, you hate it when that battery bar turns red, 20% remaining, 10% remaining, then your battery runs out –or as most people say “my phone died,” as if it was a family member or extension of our being. Instead of frantically searching for a plug socket and sitting on a dirty floor, break the tether and invest in a portable power bank.

A power bank is essentially a back up battery for your phone or device. They come in all shapes and sizes and you could easily fit one in your pocket. Starting around $12 you can get a small power bank that is capable of completely recharging your phone while you are on the go.

If you are a heavy power user, like I am, you may want something with a little more horsepower. My power bank of choice is the Mophie Powerstation Duo. The Powerstation Duo holds enough juice to completely recharge your device four times. It can also charge two devices at once, so whether you need to charge your phone and tablet at the same time, or you just want to save the day for a coworker or your boss, the duo has got you covered for a price of $99.

5. Free drinks

The weather is usually fairly mild at WOC, but Las Vegas is a desert area with lots of dry air, so it important to stay well hydrated. There are concession stands conveniently located throughout the show, but who wants to spend money on water?

Save some money and buy a collapsible, foldable, and reusable water bottle from Vapur starting at $8. There are drinking fountains located near almost every restroom in the convention center. You will end up ahead of the game in the end by not having to buy water, and you will be doing your part for the environment too.

The best part about one of these “anti-bottles” is that it can fold down small enough to fit in your pocket when you are not using it, and when full most of them come with a clip so you can attach it to a belt loop or pants pocket. Remember, the general rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in water every day. For example if you weigh 200 pounds, you should be drinking 100 ounces of water daily.

In closing, the most important and fun part of World of Concrete is reconnecting with old acquaintances and meeting new people, so be outgoing. There are a lot of great demonstrations, educational opportunities, and events at WOC every year. Hopefully these tips will help you spend less time worrying about the basics and more time breathing in the wonderful world that is concrete.

Do you have a tip or trick that has worked well for you at World of Concrete? We would love to hear it. Share your best advice in the comment section below.