What's in Your Traveling Bag?

BlogHer Original Post

packing all the power cords

We're all running here and there to conferences and meetups–not the least of which are the upcoming BlogHer conferences. Traveling, traveling . . . but in a high-tech, gadget-happy world, what do you pack? What do you leave at home?

I'm very curious about this, because the conversation at conferences has largely switched from live blogging to Twitter. Which means phones can do it all. And because schlepping a bunch of heavy stuff all over a conference center gets tiresome. And because I ran into the fabulous tech-wonderful Sarah Dopp, founder of Genderfork, at SXSW last March and she was packing only a small notebook and a pen! Sarah explains,

I've given up on carrying around my laptop at conferences. It's heavy, it's hard to keep it charged, it's too big to lug around for the after-conference cocktail hours, and it makes me more social. I've found that combining old school with new school seems to be the solution: a small moleskin notebook with a reliable ballpoint pen, and an iPhone. The pen and paper are for notes, and the iPhone's for photos, twittering, and looking up the conference schedule if they've made a mobile version of it available. (Tip: If cell phone service is iffy in the conference hall, I'll take screenshots of the schedule so it can live in my photo archive instead of on the web browser.) If I'm thinking ahead that morning, I'll even wear cargo pants so it can all fit in my pockets, and I won't have to carry a bag. 

Another great tip I picked up is putting a small stack of my business cards in my conference badge holder (you know, those plastic sleeves that they slip your name into and stick on a lanyard around your neck -- they can hold a lot more than your name).  Then I know they're always on me, even if I've gone back to my hotel room to change my clothes before the evening.

With Sarah as my mentor, here's what I've decided to lug about during the day. A small notebook and pen! My iPhone for tweets and some pictures. My Sony DSC-H2 because it has flash, 12X zoom, does video, and it hangs around my neck without tiring me out. Business cards stashed in my badge. I feel lighter just typing that. I'll bring my MacBook, but won't carry it all day. In the evenings, I can use it to upload the camera's photos and do any blogging I need to do while in my room.

I asked a few others who plan to attend BlogHer conferences to share what they intended to bring.

Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen plans this:

I'm not too into gadgets for a blogger! I'm bringing laptop, wireless mouse, maybe keyboard, dslr camera + 2 lenses, camera battery charger, and low-tech cell phone. That's it!

(I will confess though that I'm thinking seriously about buying an iphone. Just waiting to see what my new house payment is going to be!)

I have a Flip video camera (retirement gift from my brother!) I'll definitely bring that too, but might not use it.

Mir from Woulda Coulda Shoulda said,

I'm bringing my new MiFi because the internet connection at BlogHer is usually spotty. (And because I can have up to 5 people using it at once, I figure it's a great way to make friends! Ha!)

Mir, can we be friends? If you say no, Liz Henry from Composite is my fallback person to go to. She says,

I carry the Airport Express with me, which is a tiny little box the size of a laptop power brick; plug it into the hotel ethernet cable, and then everyone in the room can use the wireless

Liz also reminds people to carry power strips.

Elisa Camahort Page from Worker Bees Blog and BlogHer, sent this list.

  1. Having just traveled for the first time with my new Kindle?
    Absolutely must-have
  2. iPhone...provides constant touch to Twitter and email, so I don't
    always have to carry laptop
  3. MacBook Pro Laptop...mostly for catching up in my hotel room and
    doing real work
  4. iPod...this is just for the plane trips. I have nearly 90 GBs of
    music, so could never put it on my iPhone
  5. Noise-canceling headphones...again for plane trip
  6. Flip video...that I will likely bring with all good intentions, and
    rarely use
  7. Digital camera...same as with Flip. I carry it everywhere, and
    don't use it nearly enough

It's actually kind of scary to think about the aggregate value of the gadgets I carry! Thank goodness for hotel room safes!

I'll second that hurrah for hotel safes.

Megan from Megan's Minute has these plans:

I'm taking BlackBerry Curve which of course has emails, Facebook, TweetBerry and Chatter. Not to mention it also has my own music and Pandora.

My Acer 4620-4605 Vista PC laptop and USB cable to use to hook up BlackBerry as a modem for the laptop.

My Canon SD750 still camera which I will use quite a lot and for the first time a Flip camera as well. Don't know much I'll use that but we'll see.

I'll also have my new VooDoo Poken that I won in Denise's giveaway.

Let's see, oh also a thumb drive.

I'm glad Megan mentioned the Poken. I didn't see many at SXSW, so I'll be fascinated to see if they are a hit at a BlogHer conference. Will this be the year of the Poken?

Susan Mernit has this list:

macbook pro
Canon powershot SD770
Ipod for multimedia and music
Western digital passport external drive
2 thumb drives
That is it.

Pam Mandel from Nerd's Eye View is bringing this:

  1. MSI Wind Netbook, you rule.
  2. iPod because I'm something of an insomniac and podcasts make that tolerable.
  3. Fancy a$$ Nikon D200 w/awesome 28-300 only-lens-you-need-for-traveling.
  4. The Planet's Oldest Cell Phone - ask me, I'll show you, it's ancient. I use it for... PHONE CALLS!
  5. Bajillion CF cards because I hate running out of memory for my camera. Oh, and extra batteries for the camera too.
  6. Universal card reader.
  7. Might try to get a Flip for the road trip out there. Undecided on that.
  8. MS Life Cam show, a really nice little USB webcam with a decent quality built in mic.
  9. Ukulele by Flea. Does that count as technology? :)

Related, I bought a very nice backpack by KATA for all this crap recently, totally worth it.

Since Pam is a knowledgeable traveler as well as an awesome photographer, I take her list seriously. She is the only person so far who's mentioned a Netbook—maybe because she's the only person who needs room for her ukulele. Netbooks are another thing I'm going to be interested in looking for this year. Will this be the year of the Netbook?

Karen from Chookooloonks says this,

  1. Macbook
  2. Nikon D300.  A couple of lenses (not sure which ones yet), battery charger, download cord.
  3. I plan on buying myself an iPhone for my birthday, which is right before the conference.  So I anticipate having that.

And that's it.  I'm feeling rather neophyte-y, since my list of technology is so short!

And then there's Gena, from Out on the Stoop. Here's her packing list.

  1. Kodak Zi6 High Def Camcorder - hey not everybody wants The Flip, but
    it was close, Removable SD Cards and AA Power sealed the deal
  2. My JVC Hard Drive Camcorder with upteen hours of recording time & tripod.
  3. Two different mp3 players that don't hold a charge well or I might
    breakdown and by a Zune
  4. Either my Ubuntu netbook or my Toshba Laptop running Vista. Not both.
    If I'm doing demos or helping out in the Geek Room then I will bring the
    Laptop. If not, the Netbook
  5. Mass quantiles of SD Cards, batteries, , recharger, cords and cables.
  6. My plain vanilla cell phone & plug, I think. If I don't upgrade.
  7. Maybe my digital voice recorder.
  8. My old Panasonic Lumix Still DigiCamera if I can find it. If not they
    maybe time for a new compact digital still camera.

There might be others I'm not remembering but one thing is certain, I
have techno-lust and I'm not alone.

In unity there is voltage.
Tearing up at the love.

Oh, Gena, I'm tearing up, too. It's that serious video vibe you give off. It's very touching.

Heather from No Pasa Nada has a short list of tech gadgets.

Sony A-100
Flip Video camera
Canon powershot

This is the easy list. Wait till you see how I'm going to pack my shoes...

I say we use all those cameras we're going to be bringing to create a lasting record of Heather's shoes.

Here's Queen of Spain, Erin Kotecke Vest's rather short list.

Flip cam
elf cam

We know there will be at least two people with Pokens. You two be sure to get together and do whatever it is you do with those things. Speaking of off color remarks, somebody wanted to know if a vibrator would count as a tech gadget. I personally think it would only count if it were Internet capable and sent out a tweet each time you . . . activated it.

GoonSquadSarah plans to take

Power Shot
Nikon d60 + lenses
Card reader
Flip (which I bring everywhere and never ever use)

What is it with the Flip cameras? Everybody brings one but nobody uses it. Their marketing must be really good. Or their device must be really bad. What is it?

Em Zanotti from American Princess doesn't have to pack at all. She'll have everything she owns right there.

Haha. I live eight blocks away.

On that note:
Blackberry (no, I can't gets an iPhone b/c they'll charge me to change my plan)
My Fujifilm Finepix s1000fd (one day I will be able to get a D60, it is my dream)
Aaaaand....my little love from Japan, my Polaroid Mio, which takes adorable, sticky-backed indie looking pics.

Deb Roby from A Stitch in Time is working on a list that includes,

Sony MP3 Player for the flights, I think
Sony Vaio laptop
Canon camera which I won't use enough or at all.
Canon video camera?  Not sure if I'll bring it or not
Samsung cellphone
I may be buying an ITouch for my birthday, in which case I'll bring that too. Or bring that and leave the mp3 player at home. 


making those decisions already??

Maria Young from Immoral Matriarch

Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop
Flip MinoHD video camera
Nikon d40 w/ 18-55mm and 50mm 1.4 lenses, extra battery and extra memory card.
Chargers for everything :)

Check out what Rita Arens from Surrender Dorothy is bringing:

The lost Flip, if I can find it, my camera and my T-mobile Dash. Chargers. That's it. I intend to focus on your lovely faces instead of my gadgets. I find taking notes on paper has always done me right at BlogHer.

Laurie White from Laurie Writes saw everyone else's list and sent her own:

I'm in line with many of you...

Canon Digital Rebel (lenses are unexceptional. Maybe next year.)
Flip - which like you Sarah I never use so I have no idea why I bring it everywhere.
Canon PowerShot IS somethingsomething (best little cameras but I can never remember the model I have. I really love taking photos in and of Chicago or I'd be tempted to just bring this one.)
I'll bring my HD video camera if someone will teach me how to upload the videos to my Macbook while we're there, seriously.

That's it. I never have the time I think I will to upload photos while I'm there and the iPhone's mobile posting capability is making me much more obnoxious in that capacity. It's just so much fun, I can't help it.

Curious: what are you all doing with thumb drives, if you don't mind me asking? I don't use them at all unless I'm at work.

I'm with you, Laurie, I was wondering about those thumb drives myself. Anybody ready to volunteer to help Laurie learn to upload video to her MacBook?

Karen, aka sassymonkey, who will be crossing an international border to get to Chicago, plans to bring

1. MacBook
2. Cell phone (assuming it doesn't die by then and which I won't really be using  b/c US roaming charges scare me)
3. Canon Powershot
4. Poken
5. Sony Reader PRS-700 (I can't tell you much lighter my luggage will because of this thing) and the AC charger

Do U.S. roaming charges on the phone rule out Twitter, too? This could be serious!

Joanne, from Pundit Mom thinks she's pretty lame next to all the techies. Her list is short:

1. Laptop
2. iPhone
3. Flip camera
4. Point & shoot digital cam ( would live to bring Nikon D60, but I want to be able to carry on luggage !!)

Wow, a short list and a Flip camera with no disclaimer about not ever using it. Can I be in one of your video shoots, Joanne? I'll say something political.

Catherine from Her Bad Mother had a unique list last year:

Last I brought pretty much every gadget that I own, plus an 8 week old infant, and the infant was the only thing that I actually used. So, this year I'm downsizing in the brought gadgetry department: smartphone and digital camera. If I have a netbook by then, I might bring that, although in the last three BlogHers I've attended I've not once cracked open a computer.

Infant is no longer travel-sized and so I'm leaving him home, too.

I don't know about you, but I'm thinking Catherine might have a very good time this year and maybe catch a little extra sleep in the bargain.

Sarah Dopp and I will not be alone going analog. Here's a list from Heather at ClizBiz.

I've fallen behind in the gadget department and am in desperate need of a technology makeover. Therefore, I will be bringing the following:


I hope she doesn't carve blog posts into the bathroom counter tops with that hammer and chisel.

All right people, I'll stop listing already. That's a lot of serious techy gadgetry. DON'T FORGET THE CHARGERS. Thanks to BlogHer events manager Lori Luna for that tip and to Alanna Kellogg from Kitchen Parade for the photo of the bag of power cords.

Impressed as I am by all those lists, I'm still planning to go to the store today to make sure I have a small, pocket-sized notebook. It will be my goal to record the name of everyone whose photo I take in my little notebook. No more anonymous BlogHers in my Flickr stream.

This might be a good time to state that nobody is getting paid to identify any products mentioned in this post. This is genuine, unpaid, product discussion you're getting here. Now it's your turn to share. What are your must-haves? What can you do without? Any tips for lightening the load?

Virginia DeBolt
BlogHer Technology Contributing Editor
Web Teacher
First 50 Words


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