Updated for Summit 2018!
In September, Atlassian, the maker of Jira, Confluence and other development tools, hosts another European user conference! Users in the United States will trade their usual domestic flight to California for an international flight to Barcelona, Spain.
This will be my seventh Atlassian Summit. As a frequent attendee and a frequent traveler, here are my conference travel tips.
I’ve been on an RV road trip since May 2015. I work from home, and “home” is wherever I park for the week, month, or quarter! By the time Summit begins, I’ll be in my 48th city. I track all my RV trip planning details in Confluence, but when there are flights involved, I track those trips in Tripit Pro. I like this service because it monitors flights, alerts me when gates change, turns confirmation emails into travel entries, has both a web and mobile version, and keeps me organized. There’s no wrong way to craft an itinerary, just make sure you have one, it works for you, and it’s easy to access when you need it.
I store my trip packing list in Confluence. I print it out or check off items on my phone as they go into my travel bag.
Make a checklist list of what you plan to accomplish and who you’re hoping to meet at Summit. What do you want to learn from Atlassian? Which Expert Partners will you seek out? I always have a list of names, contact information, and where I might find each person or company.
In 2016, the date of Summit changed to the same week I was scheduled to be on vacation in Iceland. I canceled my vacation, got reimbursed for my expenses, and attended the conference. I’ve only had to use insurance once and I was sure glad to have it!
I once witnessed a demonstration in Buenos Aires. My travel companions wanted to move closer and see what it was about! Not smart. I talked them out of it.
Don’t walk around town wearing your conference badge!
It shows you’re a tourist and probably don’t know your surroundings. But remember to bring your badge to get into conference events, like Summit Bash.
Have you: Been stuck on a plane? Made an emergency landing in an unexpected city? Been trapped in an airport for an extended time? All have happened to me. Always plan for the worst and hope for the best.
These came in handy while stuck in Costa Rica. Supplies on my grounded plane dwindled quickly.
These provided welcome comfort on many cold flights and twice while I was stuck in South Carolina and Peru. I use a sleeping bag liner from ALPS Mountaineering. It’s warm, soft, and rolls up to fit in my backpack’s water bottle holder. I’ve used it as a blanket, sleeping bag, pillow, towel, and a makeshift changing room. Last year I tested out a new kind of travel “pillow” called the Trtl. I decided it wasn’t for me. This year, I’m testing the Nemo travel pillow which is collapsible, inflatable, and includes a layer of foam.
I once took a flight from Brownsville International Airport in Texas. I thought “international” meant “large airport with lots of services”. I planned to check in early, get lunch, and maybe get a massage. Instead, I arrived at a one-gate airport where the security line didn’t open until just before the flight. There were no services or stores. There was a vending machine but I had no cash. I was 3 hours early for no reason. #fail
Thankfully I only have recommendations and no passport-specific horror stories to share.
I travel very light, bringing only the things I absolutely can’t live without. Consider what you packed but didn’t use on your last trip. Leave those items at home. Unless you’re visiting a remote location, most things can be obtained or borrowed from a fellow conference attendee.
I truly believe there are only two types of luggage: carry on and lost!
My bag was lost after an 18 hour flight. When the airline finally found and delivered the bag, it was someone else’s! After that experience, I always carry my own luggage.
Have you ever seen a family lugging a cart of bags around the airport? How about a person with the entire set of nesting suitcases? Don’t be that traveler!
I used to bring a backpack and a small roller bag until I noticed my boyfriend only carried a backpack. Now I only bring one backpack and I make sure I can comfortably carry its weight. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars testing out suitcases and travel bags. The very best is my $60 USD High Sierra Access Backpack.
Make a game of packing. Each trip, see how few items you can bring and how much weight you can reduce. I try for a total weight of ~20 pounds (9 KG), regardless of trip duration.
Another reason not to over pack: you’ll acquire a few new t-shirts at Summit!
For the previous international Summit, I brought the Skyroam Mobile Hotspot. I’ll use it again this year. I don’t want to rely on conference or hotel wifi and I also don’t want to purchase an international phone plan. This device is network independent. It connects to nearby cell towers so I can check email and communicate through services like Skype and WhatsApp.
I was delayed in Peru once. The airport wifi was down so I had to purchase an international phone card and find a pay phone to alert my boyfriend. The call didn’t go through however. I landed in the US 6 hours after my scheduled arrival. It was late at night, the airline office was closed, and my boyfriend hadn’t been able to get info about where I was. I promised him I wouldn’t travel without communication capabilities again.
A small amount of planning and organization will help you get the most out of this super event. Read my survival tips for things to do before, during, and after Summit to make this your best conference experience ever!
Have a great flight and I’ll see you at Summit!
Rachel WrightCommunity Leader
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