IASA-AMIA 2010 conference

Practical information

1. Conference / Information Desk 9. Insurance (Disclaimer)
2. Workshops 10. Medical Services
3. Banking & ATMs 11. Recommended vaccinations
4. Shopping 12. Restaurants
5. Climate 13. Safety and Security Precautions
6. Currency 14. Telephones
7. Electricity 15. Tips
8. Getting Around 16. Visa

  1. Conference / Information Desk
    A conference/information desk will be set up at the conference venue on Tuesday 2 November 2010 from 08:00 – 17:00. Delegates can collect their conference bags and other relevant information from the desk.

    The information desk will be open during all conference days.

  2. Workshops
    IASA and AMIA have agreed to a series of workshops, which will take place as a pre-conference training sessions. All workshops require a minimum attendance. If minimum attendance is not met, notification will be made by October 1st of workshop cancellation. All registration fees for cancelled workshops will be refunded.
    Please consult the programme for the times and venues of the workshops.
  3. Banking & ATMs
    ATMs are found everywhere, especially at banks and convenience stores. Most ATMs charge a service fee of $2.50 or so per transaction, unless you are using the bank that issued your particular card.

    There are exchange bureaus in every terminal of the Philadelphia International Airport, though the best rates are at banks in the city. Most banks are open 10am to 5pm Monday to Thursday, until 6pm Friday, and sometimes for a few hours on Saturday morning. Other exchange options:

  4. Shopping
    Philadelphia has some excellent shopping all over the city.
    • Chestnut Hill has several antique boutiques alongside retail chains on the outskirts of Philly.
    • Franklin Mills Mall is only 15 minutes from Downtown and has over 200 stores, sure to meet any shopping need.
    • Main Street Manayunk offers an alternative to the mall and has many local shops and national chains.
    • Old City is home to some of the hippest boutiques and vintage shops in Philadelphia. Most of their clothing stores are aimed toward younger shoppers into the indie rock scene.
    • South Street, between Center City and South Philly, has an eclectic collection of shops, tattoo parlours and hip bars.
    • For a more upscale shopping experience, Rittenhouse Square in Center City is in a very convenient location.
  5. Climate
    There are four distinct seasons:
    • Winters moderately cold with some snow (January average temperature, 32 degrees Fahrenheit).
    • Summers warm and sunny with some humidity (July average temperature, 78 degrees Fahrenheit).
    • Spring and fall moderate and comfortable.
    • Average yearly rainfall, 42 inches
  6. Currency
    The stable US dollar – aka greenback, simoleon or buck – is the only currency generally accepted in the country, though a few places near the Canadian border also accept Canadian dollars.

    The US dollar is divided into 100 cents (¢). Coins come in denominations of 1¢ (penny), 5¢ (nickel), 10¢ (dime), 25¢ (quarter), the seldom-seen 50¢ (half-dollar) and the $1 coin. Quarters are most commonly used in vending machines and parking meters. Bills come in $1, $2 (rare), $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations.

  7. Electricity
    Electric power is standardized in all states across the USA. It is set at 110 Volts and 60 cycles. 220 Volt power is used in homes only for large appliances like stoves, water heaters and clothes dryers. It is not normally available for personal appliances. You may need an adaptor and power converter.

    If you bring any electrical appliance to the USA, you may need an adaptor to fit the US electrical receptacles. You may also need a converter to change the voltage from 110 volts to 220 volts.

    Most common appliances will function with either 50 or 60 cycle current. Electrical frequency can affect electric clocks, audio equipment and some other electronic gear. You should check your electrical equipment for compatibility with 60-cycle current before you bring it to the USA.

    In most discount stores, you can purchase curling irons or hair dryers for $10 or less. It may be more convenient and even more economical to buy an inexpensive appliance that is fully compatible with US electrical power.

  8. Getting Around
    By public transportation:
    Subway, trolley, commuter train and bus service (SEPTA) has connections throughout the city and region. Bus fare on most routes is $2.00 (Tokens available for $1.30 or a Daypass for $5.50 which includes unlimited riding for one day on any Regional Rail line, as well as the airport’s R-1 line).

    The Phlash offers a quick and easy connection to most Center City attractions, including the Independence Visitor Center, Penn's Landing and the Philadelphia Museum of Art and is one of the best ways to visit 19 key locations in Center City.  The Phlash operates seven days a week from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., offering service every 12 minutes from March 1 through November 30, 2006. One-way ride is $1, individual all-day pass is $4 and an all-day family pass is $10.

    RiverLink ferry runs seasonally between Delaware River Waterfront (Penn’s Landing) and attractions along the Delaware River in New Jersey (roundtrip $6 adults, $5 children).
    Many public transportation vehicles are wheelchair accessible.

    On foot: Center City is very walkable with streets laid out in a grid pattern (numbered streets run north and south and tree-named streets run east and west).
    Most Center City hotels, attractions, shopping, restaurants and nightlife are within walking distance of each other and the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

  9. Insurance (Disclaimer)
    Please note that neither the IASA Local Organising Committee nor AMIA can be held responsible for any damages, injuries or losses that might occur during the IASA Conference or your stay in the USA.
  10. Medical Services
    The USA offers possibly the finest health care in the world. The problem is that, unless you have good insurance, it can be prohibitively expensive. It’s essential to purchase travel health insurance if your regular policy doesn’t cover you when you’re abroad.

    Bring any medications you may need in their original containers, clearly labelled. A signed, dated letter from your physician that describes all medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea.

    If your health insurance does not cover you for medical expenses abroad, consider supplemental insurance. Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures

    Please note that each delegate will be responsible for his/her own medical needs and insurance.

  11. Recommended vaccinations
    No special vaccines are required or recommended for travel to the USA. All travellers should be up-to-date on routine immunizations
  12. Restaurants
    Philadelphia is one America's best food cities. Saveur magazine named it the nation's "most under-appreciated American food town." Ethnic fusion, big spenders and a deep pool of culinary talent have all helped to make Philly a world class-dining destination. Standout restaurants like Lacroix, Vetri, Le Bec-Fin, Alma de Cuba and the White Dog Café and Italian Bistro of Center City lead the way.

    Information and suggestions on local restaurants can be obtained from your hotel reception or tourist information brochures available at your hotel.

  13. Safety and Security Precautions
    Your safety and the security of your personal property are of the utmost concern to us.

    For the traveller, petty theft is the biggest concern, not violent crime. When possible, withdraw money from ATMs during the day or at night in well-lit, busy areas. When driving, don’t pick up hitchhikers, and lock valuables in the trunk of your car (before arriving at your destination).

    In hotels, locking valuables in room or hotel safes is prudent, and don’t open your hotel door to a stranger (if suspicious, call the front desk to verify who they are).

  14. Telephones
    Cell telephones and handheld devices are the best communication medium for most USA visitors. Many wireless networks in the US, are now equipped with GSM technology allowing international travellers with compatible devices to communicate with US networks. Your service provider should be able to explain that GSM telephones are classified as dual-band, tri-band, and quad-band. Tri- and quad-band are recommended to provide the best service in the USA. You can purchase pay-as-you-go cell phones for less than $20.
  15. Tips
    It is important to realize that for many professions, particularly waiters and waitresses, taxi drivers, porters and bellhops, tip income is half or more of the worker's total income. These people are paid very low salaries and depend on tip income. If in doubt, tip a little more than usual, especially if service was good or the person was friendly. It will always be appreciated.

    Waiters or waitresses get at least 15% and often 20%. If you are served at a counter or bar tip 10%. Remember, in American restaurants, service is almost never included in the final bill, except sometimes for large groups. If an amount is added on, it is usually the amount of sales tax you owe on the bill, not the service charge.

    Taxi drivers get 15%. Auto rental agency employees do not expect tips. Tip valet parking attendants at least a dollar or two.

    Porters, skycaps and bellhops get $1.00 for the first bag or two, 50 cents each additional bag. Hairdressers and barbers are tipped at least 15%. If a separate person washes your hair, tip a dollar or two. Shoe shine people should get a dollar.

    At hotels, you may tip the maid a dollar or two a day if you stay more than one night. Tip room service waiters 15%. If the hotel concierge goes out of his or her way to help you, you may tip from $10 to $20.

  16. Visa
    Visa requirements to visit the United States vary greatly country to country. Please check with the U.S. embassy in your country. For more information go to: http://travel.state.gov/visa/