What I’m packing for VMworld

belkinPowerBarIn a previous post I mentioned that I am fortunate enough to be heading to my first VMworld, and I also highlighted what I was hoping to gain from the experience. With only a couple of days until the conference kicks off, I thought I would put together a list of some of the essential things to pack for my trip.

  1. Chargers, batteries, cables, etc. – Whether you are at the airport, in a conference room, or maybe even in your hotel room, there never seems to be enough electrical outlets. If you are really unlucky you might think you found an outlet only to discover it’s a Electrical outlet sticker. I opted to invest in a portable power bar as I would I use it on this trip and there have been plenty of times when I needed one offsite. The nice thing about this port bar is that it has three traditional outlets, along with two USB slots. No more carrying around multiple adapters or swapping out USB cables on the charging block. I’m also expecting it to become a bit of a socializing tool when folks see me plug it in.
  2. Computing device – I have a ThinkPad X220 that I love; it is a bit older, but it is light (for a laptop) and has a good battery life. When you factor in the charging block though, it is definitely heavier than what I want.  I was thinking about bringing my iPad which has a keyboard, but it still has some weight to it and it just isn’t as functional as my laptop (I would use VMware Horizon View if I had to connect back to the office, but it’s still not great on the iPad). Luckily I have a Microsoft Surface 3 available for the duration of my trip. I haven’t used it heavily yet, but so far I love it. Its weight is comparable to my iPad with the Bluetooth keyboard, it runs full-fledged Windows, and the battery on it is great. Is it a full laptop replacement? *Maybe* with all the right accessories (docking station, gigabit adapter, video out, etc.), but as something to travel with I don’t think I could do better. I plan on using downtime on the flight to update some documentation (there’s always plenty of that to do).
  3. Clothing / footwear – Be sure to review the weather. Yes, San Francisco is in California, but it isn’t necessarily scorching hot. Looking at the weather for the duration of the conference it looks it is going to be cooler than up here (Ontario, Canada) during the day, and cooling down at night. I’ll likely be fine with some long sleeves for the cooler evenings, but I’m going to bring a light jacket as well. Also, footwear – do not bring new shoes. Rather bring comfortable shoes that are already broken in. There is a ton of walking to do and you don’t want to end up with blisters by the end of the first day.
  4. US based SIM card – Roaming rates in Canada for US travel is ridiculous. For example, for 50 minutes of voice / unlimited texting / and 100 MB of data, I would be looking at $40. Instead I got my phone unlocked for about $30 and I signed up for Ting – they have tiered plans for texting, voice, and data, and they just charge for what you use. I’ll setup call forwarding from my existing number to the new number, swap out SIM card, and be good to go.
  5. Travel Documents / Itinerary – In my case I’ll need my passport, airline info, hotel info, party invites, and likely a map of the various areas (hotel, Mosconne, vendor parties, etc.). I have a folder in my inbox where I have been tossing this stuff, but I also started putting it in OneNote so that I can just pull up what I need on my phone quickly instead of wading through email. Another benefit is that I can add whatever I need in there (i.e. a screen capture of a map, links to relevant info, etc.). Which leads me to my last point.
  6. Know your route – At least have some idea of where you are going (hotel, convention center, vendor parties, etc.) and how you will get there. San Francisco’s public transit system (known as BART) services a fairly wide area and might be a good option depending on where you are going. Other options are traditional taxis, and of course, Uber. I have never used Uber, but I have setup an account a head of time so if / when the time comes that I need a lift I won’t be stuck filling out details before I can book anything.

I’m hoping for a smooth productive trip, and hopefully all of this planning will pay off. If you see me at VMworld, be sure to say hi. I always enjoy talking to like-minded IT folks.

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