The Annual Meetings are Highway Robbery, Part I
So before I start with the practical advice, I just need to make a comment about the finances of this whole endeavor. I am very fortunate to have an institution that will cover the costs of professional association meetings. I realize that this is not true for all aspiring anthropologists and ethnographers.
In addition to the cost of travel and accommodation (which can be quite expensive), the registration fees for the annual meetings are prohibitive to say the least. This year (2012), advanced registration for professional members costs $218 per person, and on-site registration costs $273 (the cost for students is $94 or $104 on site). But that is on top of your membership fees to the AAA, which range from $70 to $306 dollars (depending on your professional status and income). If you are not a member of the AAA, onsite registration costs $475 for professionals and $208 for students!
The annual meetings are therefore inaccessible to many people for financial reasons, and this can have serious career impact.