With all the new technology out there, deciding what gadgets you should pack to bring to a conference can be a difficult decision, especially if it is your first one. Even a veteran conference-goer might not know about some of the new helpful or smaller gadgets that could make things easier.
Laptop vs. Tablet
This is the biggest tech decision that you will need to make when attending a conference. The laptop will allow you to type easily during panels and also get work done in your room. However, it is going to weigh you down while walking around the conference and while traveling. A tablet is nice and light and great for carrying around, however, you can’t do as much with it.
There are options that could make the choice easier for you. If you prefer to bring a laptop, but don’t won’t to deal with a heavy piece of equipment, check out the new HP Stream 11 laptops. They weigh less than 3 pounds, and work exactly like any other laptop, except you save almost everything into the cloud instead of a hard drive. The price is only $199. If you travel often, it might be worth getting for travel alone.
If you prefer to take your tablet, then I highly recommend buying a Bluetooth keyboard for faster typing. There is a vast selection of Bluetooth keyboards you can get. Here are two I recommend, which not only have great reviews, but work with all platforms – iOS, Android, Amazon and Windows devices. The Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard sells for 64.99 and the cost of the Anker® Ultra Compact Slim Profile Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard is $25.99.
If you do bring a laptop, don’t forget to bring a laptop bag or something appropriate to carry it to the conference hall. I once packed my laptop in my carry-on suitcase and didn’t realize that I didn’t bring any type of bag that I could carry it around in. Even with a large tablet, this might be a concern. I usually bring a backpack so I can also fit the sweater that I will be taking on and off all day.
We all know that we need to bring chargers, especially for our phones, but how often do we forget them? And worse, have you ever pulled your phone out of your charger in the hotel and flew home with the charger still in the wall. The ChargerLeash sets off an alarm if you pull your phone out and don’t take the charger with you. You can set it to off when you are home, and turn it on when traveling. (iPhone only)
You might need to charge your phone or tablet before you get a chance to go back to your hotel room at the end of the day. There are probably hundreds of battery chargers to choose from. My favorite is the Lepow Moonstone Portable Battery Charger. It looks like a small square stone and comes in a soft bag. You have a choice of colors to choose from. And it is only $24.99. I hadn’t used mine in a few months, and when I went to charge it yesterday it was still almost fully charged.
Power Strip (optional)
I’ve never brought a power strip with me to a hotel before, but I think it is a good idea. Whenever I’m at a hotel with all my gadgets, especially if I’m there with my husband or a roommate, there are never enough outlets.
Mobile Hot Spot Device (optional)
I haven’t done this yet either, yet I’ve been considering it for a while. Internet is not great in hotels, especially during conferences. I’ve been looking into Karma, where there are no contracts, you pay as you go and it never expires. It would be nice to have decent Internet access while traveling. Netgear is also a good option.
Do you recommend any other tech for conferences? Gadgets that you like to bring with you?