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Atlassian Summit 2020 Travel Guide – Vegas Edition (Part 2)

Announcement: The in-person Summit user conference in Las Vegas, is suspended for 2020. There will be an online, remote event instead. Please read Atlassian’s Summit 2020 FAQ.

Updated for Summit 2020!

Continued from Atlassian Summit 2020 Travel Guide – Vegas Edition (Part 1)

Side Trips

Do you have extra time in Vegas? A few days under glittering casino lights may have you craving time outdoors. There are many neat places nearby to visit. You’ll need a rental car or to join one of the many tours that leave from Vegas. I recommend arranging tours online before you arrive.

I recommend:

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
A 13 mile scenic drive with stunning canyon views
Cost: $15 per vehicle
Distance from convention center: 21.5 miles
Notes: The route has tolls


Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park
Bright red Aztec sandstone nestled in gray and tan limestone mountains
Cost: $10 per vehicle
Distance from convention center: 55.2 miles
Notes: Your last chance to stock up on fuel and water is at the Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza at the corner of I-15 N and Valley of Fire Highway.

Hoover Dam
A concrete arch-gravity dam in the on the border between NV and AZ
Cost: $15 per person (tour)
Distance from convention center: 37 miles


Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park
Known for its ghost town, colorful rocks, sand dunes, and salt flats
Cost: $30 per vehicle
Distance from convention center: Over 100 miles

Planning and Itinerary

Truck and travel trailer
Long Term RV Trip

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 58th 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.

TIP
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. On my most recent trekking adventure in Spain, I used Trello, which worked well too.

Summit Mobile App


“Atlassian Events” Mobile App

I also plan conference specific activities with the Summit mobile app. Look for it listed as “Atlassian Events” in the Google Play or iOS store. Use the agenda feature to plan sessions and activities, the map to help you find your way to a Solution Partner’s booth, and the messaging feature to connect with fellow attendees.

Many of us are still tagging each other and chatting away in the app long after the event has ended.

Safety

My “do’s and don’ts” to increase safety while traveling are:

DO

Top 10 Las Vegas

  • Familiarize yourself with information about Las Vegas and the United States.  I recommend the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. See: Top 10 Las Vegas or Las Vegas (older but more in-depth)
  • Be aware of time zone changes.  Las Vegas Time Zone:  PDT (UTC/GMT -7)
  • Check the weather.  The season may be opposite from home. The historical average temperature in April is a high of 76°F (24.4 C) high and a low of 53°F (11.6 C).
  • Leave your itinerary and emergency contact information with a team member and a friend or family member.
  • Purchase travel insurance to get reimbursed for charges related to missed or delayed flights, lost luggage, medical and emergency issues, etc.  I buy insurance for all international trips and selected domestic trips.

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! Your credit card might include travel insurance.  Mine once allowed me to cancel a flight at the last minute with no penalty.

  • Take all the same safety precautions you’d take in any large city environment.
  • Always walk with a friend or fellow conference attendee.

  DON’T

  • Look like a tourist.  Walking around with your head buried in a map (or a phone) advertises don’t know where you are.
  • Join large crowds, gatherings or demonstrations.  Your presence can escalate into an international incident.

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.

  • Count money in public, wear valuables, or be an easy target.
  • Advertise your travel plans.  It’s safer to post to social media after your trip.
  • Become a victim of theft, “mustard” scams, and other scams typical in major cities.

Scammers are everywhere tourists are. Beware of pick pockets, especially in busy areas where people are easily distracted. (Example: Fremont Street) Store your money in separate locations so if you lose some you don’t lose it all. Keep your passport locked in the the hotel safe. Finally, beware of people asking for financial help.

One time I was in Vegas, a man followed me into the elevator and told me he just lost his wallet and needed my help. It was most certainly a scam.

Finally, 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.

For US Citizens

  • If you’re a frequent traveler, become a member of the TSA Pre Check  program.  If you’re a frequent international traveler, join the US Customs Global Entry program (which includes TSA Pre Check.)  The convenience far outweighs the application process and cost. I’ve also heard you can shorten your wait in the Customs line using their (free) mobile app.
    • NOTE: Not every US airport has Pre Check.  Further, the Pre Check line may be closed during non-peak hours.  I learned both the hard way.
  • Have you filed your taxes yet? The deadline for submitting your 2019 income tax return is Wednesday, April 15, 2020. April 15 is also the last day to submit 2019 retirement contributions (IRA, Roth IRA, SEP, etc.) and the due date for paying Q1 2020 estimated taxes. I’m getting all this stuff out of the way before Summit!

For International Travelers

  • Read customs regulations, so you know what to expect when entering the United States and reentering your country. Read the US Customs and Border Protection’s “For International Visitors” pages.
  • Record the location of your nearest embassy or consulate.  You may need to go there in an emergency or if you lose your passport.
  • Research credit and debit card international transaction fees.  List any fees on your company expense report.  They may be reimbursable.
  • Download and print OANDA’s “Traveler’s Cheatsheet”, a wallet-sized currency converter.
  • Exchange a small amount of cash at home before you leave and then at a local bank once you arrive.  The worst exchange rate is at the airport.
  • Bring additional local and foreign cash for emergencies.  Keep it in a separate location.
  • Bring original purchase receipts for expensive technology items. One country attempted to tax one of my team members for his (not new) laptop on his return trip home.
  • Bring a power adapter.  The US uses “type A” (two flat parallel pins) and “type B” (two flat parallel pins and a round grounding pin) power plugs. The voltage is 120V and 60Hz.  Read more

Passport

Thankfully I only have recommendations and no passport-specific horror stories to share.

TIPS

  • Research passport and visa requirements.
  • Make a color copy of your passport’s photo ID page.  Store a digital copy in your email and on your phone or laptop.  Bring a printed copy with you and store it in a different location than your physical passport.  If your passport is lost or stolen, alternate copies are vital.
  • Leave your physical passport locked in a hotel safe.  Don’t bring it sightseeing or to conference sessions.
  • If you lose your passport, report it to the nearest embassy or consulate.

Flight and Airport

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.

TIPS

  • Never board a plane without water and a snack.

These came in handy while stuck on the tarmac in Costa Rica.  Supplies on my grounded plane dwindled quickly.

  • Always bring a blanket.  For long flights I bring a small pillow.

These provided welcome comfort on many cold flights and while I was stuck in South Carolina and Peru airports.  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. 

I’ve yet to discover the perfect travel pillow. Last year I tested out the ComfoArray but decided it wasn’t for me. The Nemo pillow I tried the trip before is great for camping, but not for airplanes. The search continues…

  • Always know what kind of airport you’re passing through.

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

Luggage

I travel very light, bringing only the things I absolutely can’t live without. Consider what you packed on your last trip but didn’t use.  Leave those items at home.  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 someone with the entire set of nesting suitcases?  Don’t be that traveler!

High Sierra Access Backpack

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.  I take it to every Summit and every adventure like my 100 mile walk on the Camino de Santiago, in Spain.

TIP
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. On long hikes, I try to stay under 10% of my body weight.

Other reasons not to over pack:  airlines charge for carry on luggage or heavy luggage, and you’ll want to be able to fit the new t-shirts you acquire at Summit!

Atlassian Summit Survival Guide

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!

Also see: Atlassian Summit 2019 in Pictures

Can’t attend this year? Start your campaign for next year with:  How to Get your Boss to Send you to the Atlassian Summit User Conference

6 comments

Emily Koch Atlassian Team Feb 05, 2020

Thanks for all the tips! Here's one of my own to help with packing - rolling your clothing instead of folding it makes it more compact, so you can fit more into less space! One caveat, though: you may need to use the hotel room's iron to get any wrinkles out when you unpack.

Like # people like this

If you have any spare time, I highly recommend an excursion to ride dune buggies in the desert. I did it in Vegas a few years back, and it was one of the most fun experiences of my life! 

Like # people like this
Rachel Wright Community Leader Feb 05, 2020

I so agree, @Emily Koch - thanks for contributing!  I roll my clothes and then put them in Eagle Creek Compression cubes.  (https://amzn.to/2OtoH8g)  I can usually fit everything in one large one.  (At least that's always the goal!)

That sounds fantastic @Shawn Kessler!  Thanks for the recommendation.  Haven't tried that yet but @Michael Kalnicki _M20_ reports it's great fun as well.

Like Emily Koch likes this

Great memory @Rachel Wright ! Though I did desert ATV which is slightly different, but also one of the most fun experiences of my life.

Like Emily Koch likes this
Alison Atlassian Team Feb 06, 2020

A did a side trip to Antelope Canyon on my last trip to Vegas and thought it was beautiful - just like the picture below.

Another activity I found that looks fun is Dig This, an adult construction playground where you can have a field day using big machines like bulldozers and excavators. This looks like a place where you can live out some childhood dreams. Would love to hear if any one has done this 😄

antelope.jpg

Like # people like this

Again - awesome article! Thanks :)

Like Rachel Wright likes this

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