“Pack your bags – your trip to Washington, D.C. starts on Saturday … “
Very few emails make me happier than the one that reminds me to pack my bags for the annual Tableau Customer Conference (TCC)! But what to pack? One thing you learn as a consultant is how to pack. We spend a fair amount of time on the road and packing for a conference can be tricky. Here are some tips:
1. Pack Your Most Comfortable Shoes
If you have more than one pair of really great shoes bring ’em both! Good footwear can make or break a conference. TCC is a big show. It’s going to be spread out. You’ll spend way more time on your feat than you might think. Last year, I made the fatal mistake of buying a new pair of shoes while I was on my way to the airport. It was a disaster. I could barely walk for weeks after the conference. Learn from my mistake.
2. Bring Noise Cancelling Headphones and Earplugs
Noise cancelling headphones are great for the flight, but you probably won’t use them much during the week of the conference. Cheap earplugs can be just as good for the flight, plus they can kill any ambient noise in your room and help you get a better night sleep. You might not get much sleep anyway, but anything you can do to increase the quality of sleep you do get is a great investment.
3. Wear a Messenger Bag or Backpack
Vendors will want to give you stuff (like the awesome #DataLove tattoos at the Interworks booth). You’ll want to carry it. I recommend a messenger bag, if you don’t already have one. Guys, get over it. It’s not a purse. It’s not a murse. If these 10 guys can make it work, so can you (fair warning, ymmv)!
4. Pack a Small Power Strip
5. Don’t Forget Batteries
Pack a couple extra batteries for anything you bring that needs them. You don’t want to pay hotel gift shop prices for AAA Batteries. For your portable electronics (cell, tablet, etc.), I highly recommend you get a high capacity external battery like this one. These are amazing. They have a USB port, so you can power pretty much anything with them.
6. Carry Flash Drive(s)
You’ll be around a lot of cool people showing off a lot of cool viz. You can’t go wrong with a couple of these in your pocket.
7. Bring a Keyboard
I’m an iPad guy, but there are variations on this theme for all the tablets. It took me a while to find the one I like best, but now I couldn’t do without it. It totally changes your relationship with your tablet. Pick one that doesn’t add too much bulk to your keyboard and is easy to grab and go. One thing I like about mine is it’s easy to leave it behind when I don’t want to use the keyboard (no need if I’m just reading).
8. Grab a Water Bottle
You’ll see some cool ones at the InterWorks booth, but it might be a good idea to pack one in your carry-on just in case. Convention centers = dry air. Stay hydrated, stay healthy.
9. Buy an Eagle Creek Pack-it Folder
This thing is freaking amazing! I got it as a gift a couple years ago and use it all the time. It makes packing a breeze. I can pack a lot more now and stuff comes out wrinkle free. I love it.
10. Everything Else
Be sure to bring Emergen-C (so you don’t catch the conference crud), protein bars (better safe than sorry), toiletries (hotel shampoo = a bad case of the wild hairs), hair brush/pocket comb (so you can touch up before your Tableau photo booth shot), handy wipes (you’ll be shaking a LOT of hands), pens and notebook(s).
I’ll bet I’m leaving off some important stuff. Every time I share a list like this with someone, it grows. Share your favorite conference packing tips in the comments!