I originally wrote this blog post in 2018 as an organizer of WordCamp US. It was published there as What’s in My Bag? WordCamp US Edition on October 4th, 2018. The version that follows has been tweaked and updated since then.


Every year for WCUS we write a What to Bring post to help you get the most out of WordCamp. This year I’m taking inspiration from Ma.tt (and many others) to show you what I’ll have in my bag when I travel.

As a Developer Advocate at Pantheon, attending conferences is in my job description. I attended 16 events in 2018 and I’m happy to share some of the tricks that I’ve picked up and the gear that has helped make it possible.

Toiletries

We all have our favorite toiletries. I assume that you have your essentials already figured out and mention my outliers.

I carry all of my toiletries in an Elliott Dopp by Alchemy Goods. Like most Alchemy Goods, the Elliott is made of recycled inner tubes. It’s flexible, durable, and won’t mess up if there’s a puddle of water on the counter.

Good sleep is important for your sanity during an event. I never leave home without earplugs and the Bucky 40 Blinks Eye Mask. I was never able to sleep on airplanes before using these, and the earplugs have probably saved the life of more than one loud neighbor or snoring roommate.

I carry Pepto-Bismol To-Go just in case I end up with 🎵nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, or diarrhea. And the hard tube ensures the tablets don’t get crushed.

Feeling congested? Eat spicy food or use the Benzedrex Nasal Decongestant Inhaler to clear those passages. This is particularly useful when preparing for bed or presenting a session.

Airplanes and conference centers are notorious for dry air that leads to chapped lips. Stop using chapstick and check out Blistex Medicated Lip Ointment. It’s truly a magical substance that just works.

I also have a few more nice-to-have meds I use less frequently wrapped in a rubber band.

Electronics

Everyone has their preferences for computer, tablets, and phones. I leave my laptop at the hotel when not speaking so that I pay attention to the sessions. (This can also help prevent work from hijacking camp time.)

Don’t forget chargers for the electronics you bring. I prefer Anker for most cheap accessories like this because customer service is responsive and warranty claims are easy when it breaks.

If most of your gear is USB, save some space and get the Anker USB 5-Port 60W Wall Charger(this also comes in handy at my desk when I’m not traveling). I like that it has a long cord to fit in those awkward spaces.

You probably already have a power bank like the one I received at WordCamp Minneapolis / St. Paul this year. It’s fairly common swag that gets the job done. If you need a little more oomph, check out the Anker PowerCore 5000, which I’ve never totally drained.

Want to go even more minimal? Combine the wall charger and power bank together and get the Anker PowerCore Fusion. This dual purpose charger has a built-in battery that will charge itself once your electronics are full. Then you can take it with you to the event and use it as a normal power bank.

Save yourself some hassle and keep all of your cords, chargers, adapters, and misc. gear in a small bag you can see through. This makes it easy to pack away and still find what you’re looking for. You may already have something similar – use whatever works!

You may also already have a 3-outlet tap like you see in my picture above. It’s handy when there are limited outlets at the conference, hotel, or airport. This is particularly useful if you travel overseas; buy only one plug converter and use a 3-outlet tap or power strip from your native country.

I never saw much reason for wireless earbuds until I got a pair of inexpensive Anker SoundBuds Slim+. I wear them constantly when I’m flying because they help my ears pop naturally and block out most of the ambient noise. In a pinch, I can sleep in them if I forgot to bring my earplugs. The mic isn’t great, so don’t plan to take phone calls with them.

I don’t often carry my photography equipment, but last year I volunteered as a photographer at WCUS and wrote about my experience. I brought my Nikon D5100 and AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm and 55-300mm lenses.

Miscellaneous and guilty pleasures

There are always lots of random things that end up in my bag. Some should probably stay at home, but I’ll mention a few of my highlights from this category.

Sneakycards are a fun game that helps encourage me to meet new people at a conference and as they say on the box, “pay it forward.” I try to pick at least 1 card to “play” every time I travel. I even saw one WordCamp that put a Sneakycard in each swag bag!

If you love Wapuu (and other pins) as much as I do, then you’ve probably been frustrated when the pinbacks pop off. Did you know that you can get locking pinbacks that won’t fall off on accident? #lifesaver #wapuusaver

If you’ve never used a high-quality toothpick, then you’re really missing out. I always carry these Tea Tree Therapy Toothpicks and appreciate the sharp tip that doesn’t break.

Never miss a session because you’re hungry or waste money at the airport. I often carry chocolategranola bars, and homemade popcorn to sate my appetite when traveling.

I’m a big fan of packing cubes to squeeze out little more space. These make packing (and unpacking) easier by keeping my clothes (and swag, and other things) contained. These are essential if you travel with just a backpack. Speaking of backpacks…

Osprey Flapjack Backpack with single wapuu pin

When I took this job I knew I’d need a good backpack. I wanted something nice enough to bring on client meetings but big enough that I could comfortably carry everything I need for a 2-3-day camp. I tried over a dozen backpacks and the Osprey Flapjack was the winner. It fits easily under the seat on an airplane and still manages to hold an incredible amount of stuff. I’ve brought the backpack on every trip I’ve taken in the last 2 years and it still looks and feels brand new.

UPDATE: Apparently the Osprey Flapjack has been discontinued. That means you may be able to find it somewhere at a deep discount! Apparently, the Osprey Pixel is the suggested replacement, but I haven’t had a chance to check it out.

Wrapping it up

These are my favorite travel goodies. What are yours? Leave a comment below to let me know! And for a different perspective on what to bring, check out this checklist by Tomomi.


David Needham

David Needham is a Developer Advocate at Pantheon where he focuses on developer education and training. When he's not blogging about productivity at davidneedham.me or speaking at conferences, you can probably find him with his bicycle-loving family playing board games in Champaign, IL.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.