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Michele’s NAB Survival Guide #NABShow

Michele's NAB Survival Guide

NAB 2023 is just a few days away. Be sure to check out our NAB Show 2023: The Official Toolfarm Guide. Below, we have our annual NAB Survival Guide.

Why an NAB Survival Guide?

For those of you who will be first-timers to NAB, this is the insider’s guide from someone who has been to at least 18 NAB Shows in a row (without counting pandemic year cancelations). I have lost track.

Several years ago at NAB in Las Vegas, Kim Sternisha from Toolfarm and I interviewed many of the NAB attendees that have returned year after year to get their tips for surviving the week at NAB.  Here are the best tips and tricks from the pros to help keep you healthy, get you where you need to go, and basically get the most out of the show. Enjoy!


NAB is a HUGE multi-day event, and like going to a music festival, it’s important to have a plan in place and be prepared for everything you may encounter.

This list is updated for each show and some information may be out of date, but most of the information and advice is timeless… You know… drink lots of water, wear comfortable shoes, and so on.

Plan and Prioritize

See NAB 2023: The Official Toolfarm Guide with booth info, event info, and more.

Get your event RSVPs in early and your schedule set before you go. There’s nothing worse than not being able to get into an event because you didn’t RSVP. Even if you are not sure if you can make it, it doesn’t hurt to RSVP on the off chance that you do. Even with 4 events in one night, you’d be surprised how many you’ll be able to get to. Many will sell out.

Download the NAB app for your smartphone.

Make a list of must-see booths and prioritize. Plot it all out on the map. There is so much on the show floor that it’s easy to miss something. You won’t get to see everything. It’s so big!!

Register for events as soon as you find out about them. One not to miss is The IMUG Media Motion Ball (information coming soon).

Make your dinner reservations early. Check Yelp or other restaurant-related sites for recommendations.


You have options options options.

Travel by car

Cabs. If you’re with a group, it’s almost always cheaper to take a cab than it is to take the monorail. Cabs are everywhere but somehow, they are not fast. The traffic on the strip is atrocious. The cab queue at the airport is also super long. Just a warning.

Über and Lyft – as of NAB 2016, Über and Lyft are now an option in Las Vegas!

Limo. At NAB 2013 there was a cab driver strike. Most cabs were not running. Funny story, but one morning at NAB 2013 I was waiting for a cab in a taxi line in front of a hotel. There were about ten people in front of me and I had to be at the Boris Booth giving a presentation in 30 minutes. A limo driver came up to us and asked if we’d all chip in $10 and he’d bring us to the Convention Center. He crammed twelve of us into that SUV limo for the ten-minute ride and he made $120 or more, and I had a story about riding to the Convention Center in a limo.

The same thing actually happened in 2015 with a ride to the airport. We took a regular limo, as opposed to an SUV limo, but it’s a comfy way to get to the airport and meet a few other NAB Show attendees at the same time.


Parking. If you’re driving and need to park near the convention center, Adam Bedford’s NAB Survival Guide gives some advice about parking and many other things I have mentioned. He has a top-secret place he parks and tips on how to fool security for cheap parking. Go, Adam!


Free Shuttles. NAB has free shuttles during the day that pick up at several hotels. Find out beforehand what time and where the pick-up is. Sometimes pickup is in an odd place at the back of a hotel’s parking ramp. Sometimes the shuttles can be very slow. They always seem to have my drop-off last on the agenda.

Hot tip! Get a free ride to the airport!

If you’re leaving Las Vegas before the event is over, you can pick up the NAB shuttle at the Convention Center that will take you to the airport. Save yourself some dough! I’ll be doing that this year.


The Las Vegas Monorail travels down one side of the strip. You can get a discount multi-day pass online if you order early. In the past, I had a multi-day pass and I only ended up using it 2 or 3 times. In this case, the multi-day pass was not worth it. Just watch out for hitchhiking Ferengis (those of you who have been there in the past probably know what I’m talking about!)

If you’re traveling alone, the Monorail may be a better option than a cab. The Monorail can get VERY packed at the day’s end. If you can sneak out of the show an hour early, or show up an hour after the show starts, you’ll experience fewer crowds. The monorail doesn’t go to the airport.

What to bring with you to the show

DO bring the following to the show floor:

Your badge! They will not let you in without it. They do check. One year, mine didn’t arrive and I had to go through a really long ordeal to get a new one. They say that they’ll charge a hefty chunk of change for a lost badge. You could always register for 2, just to be safe. Now they have registrations online and badge pickup in hotels so hopefully, this process is a lot easier now.

A backpack (recommended for both men and women instead of a purse) because you will collect lots of paper, t-shirts, and other swag at the show. Magazines are heavy. Be careful with what you take! And don’t bring a wimpy bag that can’t handle the stress or that hurts your shoulders or back.

A lightweight jacket. That air conditioning can be freezing, especially if it’s hot outside. The desert can get very chilly at night too.

Phone charger cable and a portable source of extra charge. I’m always in need of juice!

Sunglasses. The sun in Las Vegas is blinding and so are the lights at The Flamingo.

Business cards. You’ll get a ton. I think I’ll take photos of people holding their cards so I can put a name to a face after the show. That’s always the toughest part. I’ll usually walk away from NAB with 250 business cards of people I have just met.

Bring 2 pairs of comfortable shoes. If you’re on the Expo floor all day and at events, all evening, switching shoes midway through the day helps immensely!

Cash. The ATM charges are a bit high for my comfort.

Hand sanitizer. Germs! You’ll be meeting a lot of people and shaking hands and touching cameras that have been touched by thousands of people.

A face mask. Protect yourself. Protect others.

Proof of vaccination. This was required last year but I don’t think it’s currently required. It can’t hurt to bring it though.

Snacks and beverages

Stay hydrated.

Bring along a Brita bottle with a filter, or something similar. Sure, you can buy bottled water on the show floor or on The Strip if you want to spend $4+ on a 12 oz bottle. A Bud Light will cost less than a bottle of Dasani! The tap water in Las Vegas, in my opinion, tastes like jet fuel and chocolate. It’s disgusting. Do yourself a favor and bring a filter bottle. You’re welcome.

Amber Osborne (‏@MissDestructo on Twitter) has a great tip: “@toolfarm Vegas tip for staying hydrated. Go to the Fashion Show Mall. You can get liters of water there in the mini-mart for one dollar. \m/” We will be checking that one out! (This was from several years ago so I am unsure if it’s still accurate, however, it’s worth checking!)

Another great place to check for free water is at your hotel’s gym. They may have free bottles there to take or perhaps a big tank where you can fill your bottle. If you’re staying in the hotel, this is fair game.

Pack some snacks!

If your schedule is as jam-packed as mine tends to get, there sometimes isn’t time to grab a quick bite to eat, or nothing but a bag of Spicy Cheetos, which it may be better to just eat nothing than Spicy Cheetos. Cafeteria lines are long at lunchtime. It’s overpriced too, underwhelming, or could even be sold out by the time you get to the front of the line. I’ve been there. I speak the truth.

In the evening, throw a snack or two in your bag. Parties may have no munchies. I’ve been to some events where they put the food out and it’s gone in literally 20 minutes. Restaurants can have very long waits if you don’t have reservations and you may not have time to eat. Maybe you’re by yourself and don’t want to eat alone. Alcohol is abundant at most evening events in Las Vegas, too.

Snack suggestions

Pack some Clif Bars, trail mix, granola, jerky, fresh fruit, or something nutritionally dense and easy to carry. Throw a couple of snacks in your bag when you go to the show and when you’re walking around at night. This could save you from running out of energy during the day or being forced to eat gross convention center food or other things not on your diet (fries, burgers, etc.). It could also save you from drinking on an empty stomach in the evening.

Bring them with you from home.

There are no grocery stores that I know of that are convenient from The Strip. Maybe a Walgreens, but no real grocery stores. If you do find a grocery store, it will have a few slot machines in it and not much fresh. Las Vegas is such a weird place. There is a little grocery store behind the Flamingo. You get snacks there. They also have a slot machine. Shocking.


If you’re looking for an inexpensive meal, there are still cheap buffets in old Las Vegas on Freemont Street. It has also been recommended to try the Cuban and Dominican places across from where the Sahara used to be, which are cheap and tasty.

DON’T bring these items to the show floor

Laptops are heavy and there is no free WiFi (at least there hasn’t been in the past and it’s doubtful that it is now free, although, you may find some free hotspots). Save your back and the risk of it being stolen and leave your laptop at the hotel, locked up someplace safe.

Video cameras. Technically you are not allowed to film anything on the expo floor… but you always have your iPhone… wink

Your spouse or significant other. Yes, you may think of Las Vegas as a place to spend time with your squeeze, however, if they are not in the industry, they will be bored out of their mind and they will not be happy. Because of this, you will not be able to see everything that you want to see. Been there, done that. Leave them to explore The Strip or leave them at home entirely! Of course, I’m bringing my spouse this year, but he is one of us!

Other Information

WiFi around NAB

This information about the internet may be a bit outdated but every hotel I’ve been in over the last few years seems to charge for WiFi, or it’s part of their Resort Fees. In my experience, it has also been flaky.

As I mentioned, don’t expect free or reliable WIFI on the show floor or anywhere around Las Vegas for that matter. You won’t find it at hotels that you’re walking through either. Hey, they want you to be gambling and drinking, not looking at the greatest new products and sales at

If you need to be online, a wireless card may be just the ticket. Or, create a hotspot with your phone It will be cheaper and more reliable. This is Adam Bedford’s tip, actually. I can’t take credit for this one!

Hot Tip! Get The Internet for Free!

Free Wifi Hotspots in Las Vegas

Also, if you’re staying at a major hotel chain such as a Marriott or SPG hotel, sign up for their points program, even if you don’t stay there often. Most will give members free internet. The Bellagio also has free WiFi.

Use a VPN

I’ve heard reports about dodgy hotspots at the Convention Center that are run by bad guys who are trying to steal your info. The WiFi at the Convention Center is VERY expensive so just be careful about hopping on someone’s free WiFi.

Cell Phones

There’s something about Las Vegas that causes my cell phone battery to drain at 7 times the normal rate. If you can turn off data, GPS, and WIFI on your phone while on the show floor, you can save some life from your battery. You probably won’t get a signal anyway. The walls are thick and there are a lot of people fighting over the same signal. Bring your charging cable and throw it in your backpack. If you see an empty outlet and you have 30% battery and 15 minutes to kill, I highly advise you to pop a squat, rest your feet and charge your phone.

Hot tip! Forget your cell phone charger?

If you forget your phone charging cable, go to your hotel and ask if they have one. They will likely have drawers full of previous hotel guests who have accidentally left theirs behind. In the past, they’ve just given me a cable, which is nice because those little iPhone block chargers are about $20 apiece!

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Posted by Michele

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