Confessions of an IT conference traveller (part 1 of 6)

Christian Heilmann covers the different stages of travelling for IT conferences in this six part series. Be sure to read part two.

“So what did I forget to bring?”

When I was asked to write for this publication the main request was not to write about something technical but about the things that surround the tech world and my experiences in it. Well, remedy my current role as a developer evangelist puts me constantly on the road, read travelling from conference to conference so I agreed to write down a few tricks of the trade that keep me sane (some people would argue describing me as sane but my 12 foot green hippo friend George agrees with me that they are wrong) despite my ridiculous agenda.

If you have seen the movie “Up in the air” with George Clooney you can get a feeling of how my life is – except that I travel internationally rather than only in the US. There are more inaccuracies in the movie which I will cover later – for now let’s just say that George did a good job trying to be like me but didn’t manage to be as sexy.

What I will write about now and in the future

This series of articles will cover the different stages of travelling for IT conferences:

  • Part 1: “So what did I forget to bring?” (this part) tells you about how to pack, sovaldi sale what to take with you and how to get to the airport
  • Part 2: “Dealing with discomfort and public humiliation” covers your experiences at airports
  • Part 3: “God I wished I had packed tranquilliser blow darts” covers the journey in the air
  • Part 4: “Parlez-vous Anglais?” – travel from the airport to the hotel
  • Part 5: “Checkout at 11” – going to the conference and back to the hotel
  • Part 6: “Here’s my business card” – travel back and conference follow-up

Before we begin, I think I have to point out a few things that may skew the usefulness of these tips and tricks for you:

  • I am a male geek which means that the breadth of my fashion sense and need to accessorise is rather limited. Sometimes I go wild and iron my t-shirts but it is not a very common happenstance.
  • I live in London, England (North of the river) and this is normally my home port for my travels. It being very much an international air-travel hub makes it a bit easier for me than coming from rural areas to the next airport. This also means that my modes of transport might not apply to you.

So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Beer: Also Magical and Revolutionary

One side-benefit of traveling for work is that I’ve been able to broaden my horizons in many areas, psychiatrist but a hobby that I’ve chosen to focus on is beer sampling. Visiting foreign cities has helped me escape the beer desert of my home in Montreal, and has allowed me to taste many delicious brews that I would otherwise never have had the pleasure of imbibing.

As web professionals, we’re often called upon to attend—or speak at—conferences. The events that surround the main schedule are as important as the conferences, themselves. This is where communities are formed, and where ideas are refined. These after-hours social sessions are often coincidentally held at establishments that serve beer.

If you have functioning taste buds, this coincidence is a huge opportunity for your mouth.

In the past couple years, I’ve been able to attend some of North America’s best beer bars, and sample some of the world’s best brews, all without incurring huge personal travel costs.

Uniting friends through deliciousness is an art, and one that I take seriously. We’ve shared bottles at the Map Room in Chicago, tasted the incredible menu at Russian River near San Francisco, put a dent in Taco Mac‘s bottle list in Atlanta, drank on Microsoft’s dime at the Taphouse Grill near Seattle, exhausted the Lost Abbey supply at The Brickskeller in Washington D.C., and completely took over Beer Table in Brooklyn for an evening (just to name a few).

Next time you’re gathering a group, post-conference, to hack on a project or hone your newest web ideas, leave the overpriced hotel bar behind, find an interesting tap list, and venture into the wonderful world of tasty malt and hops (or sour beers if you’re feeling particular adventurous).