Tips and Tricks for Getting to IMCC5


by Travis Nielsen


Getting to IMCC5 can be a long and complicated journey. From most parts of the world, it takes at least two flights to get there and you may have to cover a series of costs for accommodation, food, and other incidentals along the way. If you’re lucky, your school or business will reimburse the money you spend to go, but you will likely still pay upfront. In my years of extensive traveling and many trips to Kuching as the Meeting Manager, I have learned a few tricks that may help plan a great conference trip, without succumbing to the pitfalls!


#1 Plan ahead and plan well.

Though I realize this isn’t always possible, if you know in advance what you want to do, then plan ahead as much as you can. Research the location, travel documents, ticket prices, accommodations, food, etc. The more time you spend planning, the better prepared you will be. Plus, you may find deals or someone to share the expense. If you can’t plan ahead, then plan well. You can at least prioritize the things that matter most, such as travel restrictions, booking plenty of time to get to your destination without rushing, or knowing which airlines charge for food. You may arrive a day early with a soggy sandwich in your carry on, but it’s better than arriving stressed out, tired, and starving only to be refused entry. To help you with planning your flights, click here for information on flying into Kuching.


Airport travel can sometimes be a nightmare, but it doesn’t have to! A little planning can go a long way to avoiding crowds like these (© Matt Tietbohl)

#2 NEVER book the first option or what you’re told to book without checking.

If you are paying for things always, ALWAYS see if there is a creative solution to your travel. Is it cheaper to book as a round trip? A series of one-way tickets? Are certain airports cheaper to fly through than others? Are there hostels nearby? Is it cheaper to book a few days early? If you are being reimbursed, then your business will appreciate you making it as cost effective as possible. It’s easier than you think, use sites like or Expedia, you can get reasonable prices with experimenting. I recommend checking on the costs of flights between 6 months and 6 weeks from your desired flight date, this is usually when you find the best prices.


#3 Create a budget.

If you don’t track the money you spend at a conference, you will spend WAY more than you intended. Malaysia’s currency is the Ringgit (Currency Code MYR).  Figure out if you can use your bank or credit cards in the country. Figure out if there are fees for using your cards in foreign currencies (Almost all banks have a foreign exchange or “FX” fee). Cards are the safest, as they can be cancelled, have fraud/identity theft protection, and new cards can be express mailed to you. Sometimes you are going to need cash and should bring some (see note on cash below). Remember to keep all your receipts and keep an eye on your spending. Foreign cash sometimes gets spent faster because we don’t connect to the value of the currency to its economic system, as we are so used to our own economic system. For major expenses (hotel costs, car rental, in country flights, etc.) plan to pay them in advance, as it’s easier to deal with ahead of time. However, use caution when paying in advance; if you get scammed it can cost you. Using third party payment systems like credit cards or PayPal to book these expenses and then paying on site with is an effective strategy, as this guarantees that you get the service you asked for, and if you don’t, you can cancel the payment.


#4 Book your accommodations well in advance.

It’s an easy thing to put off for another day, but then a day turns into a week, which then turns into a month or two. Before you know it, you are frantically searching and may end up with a place that’s more than you wanted to pay, and far away from the conference site. Booking early can get you deals on your accommodations and can save you from worrying about how you are going to get to the conference for that early morning presentation you have (it’s always happens). For IMCC5, we are offering some great options through our venue – The Waterfront Hotel Kuching – or our secondary hotel – The Ranee Boutique Hotel – are extremely high-quality locations and have very affordable prices. Please make sure to book early through the IMCC5 website.


#5 Always try to relax and let go of any travel anxiety.

This is usually easier with a little pre-trip planning. Planes break down, things get delayed, people can’t control the weather, and things just happens. If you go with the flow, it makes it a whole lot easier. Once you get to the conference, keep a similar mindset, as the same things will happen. Talks will get delayed, people will do things that bother you, and some things will be completely outside the control of the organizers. Being able to let go will do wonders for your mind!  A minor caveat – just because you are relaxed doesn’t mean you should let people push you around. There is a difference between the weather shutting down a flight and an airline overbooking a flight and demanding people get off a flight.


Travel can be stressful, so be sure to take time to enjoy the calmer moments of travel, like this view from a plane (© Matt Tietbohl)

#6 Be kind.

Airport staff, security people, and everyone else in between are people just like you trying to do their best. These staff have usually endured a whole pile of frustration and abuse at the hands of other people who have no respect for the difficulty of these jobs. Show them some kindness: be polite and show some sympathy for their plight and you will not regret it. They may not be able to give you the first-class treatment, but they will do a lot more for you than those other abusive plebeians.

As always, feel free to give us an email or contact us through social media if you have questions about scheduling your way to IMCC5 this summer. We also have more information on our website that may be of use!


**Note on Cash – If you bring cash, research basic costs, like how much it costs for food, a meal at a restaurant, lodgings, cell phone sim card, etc. This will give you a reasonable estimate of what you need to bring for cash. From there figure out how to buy the currency. Malaysia allows you to purchase the currency from your bank at home, but I do not advise this, as you get more competitive rates exchanging currency in Malaysia. If you decide to buy Ringgits at home, keep in mind your home bank may not carry the currency you need, and will have to order it, or if they do have it, ask what year the notes are from, as they can sometimes have expired money that is worthless in the other country. This all means one thing – plan currencies early.

When traveling, don’t keep it all in the same place. Spread it around your person and baggage so that if something is stolen, you don’t lose all your cash. If you are going to exchange cash on site, note that some exchange places take credit cards, and some don’t, so it is advisable to bring some cash in a universally recognized currency like US dollars (USD) British Pounds (GBP) or Euros (EUR).  If you are bringing USD, GBP, or EUR with you, bring large bills, like 50’s or 100’s as many currency exchange booths in Malaysia charge more to convert small bills. Malaysian, foreign exchange businesses will not exchange coin, only paper money.


Travis Nielsen is the Meeting Manager for IMCC5 and founder and CEO of Azurigen Management and Consulting Solutions Inc. A STEM project management firm that specializes in linking conservation based science to business and government. He is a published Marine Biologist with 10 years experience in STEM, and 10 years of experience in management and leadership. He has been responsible for projects with budgets up to $500,000, working with multiple stakeholders, large public engagement mandates, and with staffs up to 100 people in locations all across the globe.

The Benefits Of Sponsoring the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress


By Andrew Lewin


The time of the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC5) is almost here! On June 24, or just before, almost 1000 professionals involved in making the oceans healthier through marine science and conservation will come together in Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia to share information on their project successes and find solutions to overcome the challenges faced by the oceans around the world. IMCC5 is a fantastic opportunity for people within the field of marine science and conservation to come together and work towards conserving the world’s most important ecosystem. It’s also a chance for brands to send a message to the world that they support a healthier planet by supporting those who strive to conserve the ocean’s environments, resources, and cultural heritages!


Brands are taking more responsibility on taking care of the planet these days because it benefits not only their public image, but also adds to their legacy of making life better for their customers. Customers buy with emotion; they buy a product or service because they not only enjoy what they buy, but they believe in the mission of the company. Patagonia sells outdoor gear to people who enjoy the outdoors. Their customers care deeply about the environments they love to explore with gear they buy, so Patagonia helps protect those key places. They also realized that many of their customers take part in protecting nature. In response, Patagonia recently launched a project that matched people who wanted to help protect nature with organizations searching for volunteers among their other initiatives. Patagonia’s customers are grateful for the project and will be proud of the work they do to protect the outdoors, which creates even more brand loyalty. Brands whose customers are interested in the outdoors can easily build customer loyalty by embracing similar initiatives. The return on investment with these initiatives is huge for companies and brands!

Conservation Alliance

Patagonia has done a lot to build its brand as a company that not only makes quality merchandise, but also cares deeply about the environments its customers care about, including founding The Conservation Alliance (© Patagonia)


The opportunity is not just for large brands such as Patagonia. My own brand, Speak Up For Blue Media, is a small company (I am the only staff member and work with collaborators) working to build its reputation. I am sponsoring IMCC5 because I understand its benefits for my brand, and I have even seen the proof. I went to IMCC4 in 2016 with the aim to interview presenters one-on-one for my podcast (The Speak Up For Blue Podcast). I went to the conference with a small audience, and left well-known within the field of marine conservation science! I left the conference with a stronger brand and a larger audience as other conference delegates quickly spread the word of the podcast to friends, family, and colleagues. My audience grew, and I now began having requests to be on the show by marine scientists and conservationists. My brand reputation grew quickly because my brand was exposed at IMCC4, directly to a huge portion of my target audience. I am a proud sponsor for this year’s IMCC because I want to continue to grow my brand, and believe sponsoring IMCC5 is one of the best ways I can do so!


Your brand can seize a great opportunity to build its customer base with people who are  proud of the work their favorite brands (that’s you!) are doing to better protect the oceans.  It starts with a small sponsorship that will help drive the productive conversations and key workshops held during the meeting. Don’t be left in the wake of other companies already working to support marine conservation initiatives like IMCC5! Take time to check out our sponsorship page here and find out how you can join the rush to Make Marine Science Matter at IMCC5 this summer!


Andrew Lewin is the founder of Speak Up For Blue, a marine ecologist, and an ‘oceanpreneur.’ His career mission is to teach you how to Live for a Better Ocean by telling you what’s happening in the latest ocean news, science, and conservation of the world’s oceans. Andrew’s goal is to build Speak Up For Blue as an online platform where you can get the information you need to live in a way where you minimize your impact on the ocean and are able to learn and support the people and their projects that work so, so hard, to protect the oceans and people reliant on them every day. You can follow his YouTube channel here!

Why Am I Excited to Attend IMCC5?


By Patrick Goff


That is a question that I think about quite often now as I look forward to this summer. Why am I excited to attend IMCC5? Why am I willing to travel to Malaysia to attend a marine science conference? Those are great questions to ask of a middle school science teacher from the landlocked state of Kentucky in the US. I am excited to attend for a few reasons

1. Any chance I get to listen, talk with and interact with practicing scientists is awesome! It is through interactions and connections made here that my students are able to benefit. This conference gives me live interactions to help me better myself as a science educator. Meeting as many new people really helps me to better serve my students as a science educator. The more I understand how scientists think, work and go about investigating the world around them, the better I am able to share this with my students and better able to help setup more realistic science projects with them. What’s better is that I will be able to learn new ways to work #scicomm into my classroom, new ways to integrate the arts into my classroom and new ways of using technology to help my students learn and share what they know about science.

2. As an environmentally concerned citizen, if I can get a chance to learn more about how I can help be a better steward of the oceans, it is worth my time. Going to a marine science conference on the edge of the Pacific Ocean to learn about how I can help is a fantastic opportunity! It is through conferences like this one that I am able to learn and then take that information back not only to my students, but also to my community to better educate them about marine science. I am excited about learning. I am excited about science. I am excited about marine science. IMCC is all of that in one place!

3. As a father of a son who is interested in science, I am humbled to be able to bring him with me to share in this adventure. He will get to experience new cultures, meet people from around the world helping to broaden his view and experiences. Through this experience, he will grow into a better human. What an opportunity to take him to Malaysia to participate in a Marine Science conference! I mean, this is a lifetime adventure for us. We will get to meet so many new people, experience new cultures, eat new food and widen our world view. This is just so fantastic!

4. There are so many awesome and fantastic people who I have met and can’t wait to see again in person. People that I have talked to online, through twitter and others who have Skyped in or talked/worked with my students. This is a great chance to say thanks and see old friends!

Patrick!Patrick Goff and Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley pose for a picture with the poster Patrick shared at IMCC4 in St. John’s about his initiative to get more scientists interacting with high school teachers & students! He can’t wait to continue to make connections with motivated scientists in Kuching this summer! (© Patrick Goff)

I am pumped! I am super pumped about coming to IMCC5 in Kuching. I am having a hard time finding the words to adequately share with you how excited I am, especially as a science educator. This has been a dream for me, to come and hang out at a science conference with scientists. I am so thankful to the organization for taking me in and letting me a part of it. See you all in Kuching!


Patrick Goff is a middle school science teacher in Lexington, Kentucky in the United States of America. He has been teaching for 17 years, holds a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education, a Masters in Administration and is Nationally Board Certified in Early Adolescent Science Education. Patrick is also the founder of the Student Scientist Partnership program, which aims to match up public school teachers and scientists to further communication and interaction opportunities between scientists and students in the classroom. You can also follow Patrick on Twitter here!

The 1st International Marine Kids Congress!


Outreach, diversity, and education are three integral components to a successful scientific conference. What better way to incorporate all three at #IMCC5 than to include local and delegate children?


IMCC5 organizers are happy to officially introduce the 1st International Marine Kids Congress (IMKC)!


Organized and led by qualified science instructors, IMKC will run along IMCC5 and engage 30 school-aged children (ages 7 through 14) in science education, marine biology, environmental conservation, and experiential learning. Participants will visit at least one local ecosystem to directly observe its wildlife, engage in a shoreline clean-up project, and carry out a small-scale research project focused on the marine or coastal environment.

Participants will include local youth from Sarawak and children of delegates. By interacting with science instructors and marine science professionals in a coastal city like Kuching, these children will experience a connection to the ocean that they may have never truly appreciated while also gaining a sense of empowerment to protect this fragile ecosystem.

1st Grade Outreach 4.jpg

The International Marine Kids Congress will bring together expert marine conservation scientists & youths for a unique learning experience! (© Ashley Rowell)

The inaugural and one-of-a kind event will incorporate science, education, outreach, communication, and adventures! Some of the highlights include:

  • Lessons on the scientific method, student-led projects, and an IMKC poster session
  • Melissa Marquez from The Fins United Initiative as Plenary Speaker
  • Hand-on, STEM-based laboratory activities on estuaries, marine debris/plastics, and salinity
  • Activities with a local artist centered around environmental awareness
  • Excursions that may include mangrove and dolphin-watching, Semenggoh Wildlife Center, and local-led city tour of Kuching
  • Beach/estuary clean up and trash inventory
  • Movie screening and discussion


This project represents the first of anticipated subsequent Kids Congresses focused on engaging tomorrow’s ocean leaders in marine science education and inspiring within them a lifelong appreciation for our oceans.
For more information email Patrick Goff or Keni Rienks.