With conference season about to get into full swing, many of us will be turning our attention from the planning to the delivery of major events at far-flung locations around the globe.
Our friends and families often perceive our line of work as incredibly glamorous. My young son, for example, used to often wonder if I was a spy, and let’s face it, I could understand why – I’d jet off to exotic places, sometimes at just a few hours’ notice, and would return home several days later looking battered and bedraggled. However, nothing could be farther from the truth and in reality all I would see of those locations would be the airport, congress centre and a hotel room with no chance for a night at the casino and a martini.
What I have learned over the years is to pack only the essentials. Here’s what I always bring.
Drugs. Lots of drugs. Not the illicit or illegal type of course, but the ones that provide a quick fix to common ailments. Pain relief, antihistamines, antidiuretics, sleeping aids, migraine relief, cold and flu tablets; just a handful of each, packed in a labelled pill box.
Protective footwear. Many congress venues will no longer allow access to the exhibit hall during build-up unless you wear them. These days, thankfully, this footwear is lightweight and no longer looks like I’m about to set foot on the surface of the moon.
Comfortable shoes. Spending 16 hours a day on your feet plays havoc with your spine. Several manufacturers now provide cost-effective and practical shoes that elegantly complement a suit for little more than a pair of dress shoes. Oh, and believe it or not, running each foot under an ice-cold shower until I almost cry with pain provides instant relief for sore feet each night. Try it.
Noise-cancelling headphones. Whether for watching a movie on a long-haul flight, listening to my favourite tracks, making a call during the event build-up or helping me to drift off to sleep at the end of another busy day, these babies provide welcome relief from the outside world for enough time to help me to focus.
iPad and HDMI cable, packed with the local guide for the city I’m visiting, a few books and a few hours’ worth of video content just in case I get a chance to watch up on my favourite show by connecting to the TV in my hotel room. I’ve even found myself bookmarking the locations of the local IKEA, electrical store and pharmacy just in case I need to quickly run out to purchase some last-minute replacements.
Power adapter and travel mouse. Rather than carry lots of adapters for my portable devices, I’ll pack a power strip which allows me to use all the same plugs from my hometown. And I’ve yet to find a laptop that has a trackpad that works as well as a separate mouse, so I always ensure that I bring a separate one that wirelessly connects.
And that’s about it. Anything else, well, I can either do without or I can find locally. Investing a few minutes speaking with the hotel concierge when I check in has always paid dividends and I’ve yet to visit a city where I haven’t been able to pick up something I’ve forgotten.
To all of you who are about to hit the road in the coming weeks, pack well, safe travels and good luck.