10 Packing Tips for Dreamforce

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It’s almost that time of year again, when the marketing and sales worlds converge on San Francisco and tens of thousands of people all try to get the same Uber car at once, leading to things like 10x surge pricing. With that in mind, let’s look at what you should be preparing if you’re going to attend what’s likely to be the largest Dreamforce ever.

Sunrise over Logan Airport

First, bring good walking shoes. San Francisco is a walking city, with the except of places like Nob Hill, where it becomes a mountain climbing city. For the most part around the Moscone Center, you’ll want to walk, if only because the chances of you getting a taxi, Uber, Lyft, or other ride at peak times are close to zero, and if you get one, the surge pricing rates will be ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS A MINUTE. /DrEvil From the Embarcadero or Nob Hill to the Moscone Center is only about a mile, and as long as you don’t go up Nob Hill, it’s a relatively easy mile. Plus, you’ll be on your feet a good chunk of the event, so comfortable walking shoes are essential.

Second, bring your own Wi-Fi point. There will likely be in excess of 150,000 people on site, so bring your own Internet. Ideally, bring devices with different providers so that if one is swamped, you can switch to a difference device. If you’re staying at a hotel in the vicinity, try to get cabled Internet access in the room if possible. (and remember to pack Ethernet cables and adapters!) At the very least, you won’t have Wi-Fi latency to deal with when every person in the hotel is swarming the one Wi-Fi access point on your floor.

Third, bring power in as many forms as you can, from small, personal power strips (I use the Monster power strip that’s a nice little four-plug splitter, via Amazon) to power banks and external batteries. You’ll be sitting in session rooms of hundreds or thousands of people, and the chances of you sitting next to a power outlet are slim. If you’re lucky enough to sit near one, don’t be that guy who occupies all the outlets – bring the personal strip and make some friends.

Fourth, bring business cards. Duh.

Fifth, bring space. As in extra space in your luggage if possible, because if Dreamforce is known for something besides its content, it’s known for its gigantic expo floor where vendors do everything possible to attract your attention. That includes crazy giveaways, like Skull Candy headphones if you sit through a 10 minute demo.

Sixth, bring your own self-care. Normally, San Francisco is a well-stocked, well-provisioned city with relatively reasonable prices on ordinary goods. When 150,000 people (almost all of whom come from companies with nice expense accounts) descend on the city, prices go up and stock runs out on lots of conveniences. Bring your own OTC pain medication, unless you relish the idea of paying $8 for 2 Advil. Bring whatever else you need to be comfortable and healthy, from vitamin boosters to alcohol hand gel to feminine products.

Seventh, bring spare cables. Got an extra micro-USB cable? iPhone Lightning cable? Toss them in your bag (zip tie them together if you want to avoid massive tangles), along with an extra USB wall charger and the gear in tip 3. Chances are someone else will have a phone that’s at 2% and you can be a day-saver. Who knows, that person might just be your next CEO.

Eighth, bring a smaller bag. You will likely get a nice, awesome, wonderful laptop bag with your conference registration (at least for full conference attendees). This bag will always be slightly too large to be convenient, and it will look like the same bag that 150,000 other people have, which means you can lose your bag and its contents fairly easily. Bring a smaller bag that can hold a tablet computer, some extra business cards, a notebook and pen, and some power/cabling. This bag will make you deliriously happy at the end of a 10 hour day walking around. Alternately, bring a Sharpie and some creative decorations to adorn your Dreamforce bag so that it’s obvious it’s yours.

Ninth, bring or buy a water bottle and make liberal use of it. You’ll need it.

Tenth, bring ballistic earplugs. These are my bliss-creators, the most wonderful $4 you’ll ever spend. Ballistic earplugs are foam plugs that fit in your ears and provide up to -33db noise reduction. They can turn a screaming infant in the airplane seat next to you into an amusing animated distraction, turn a hearing-damage inducing concert into a pleasant musical performance, and turn a noisy hotel into a quiet one (with the chance that you’ll miss your alarm, since you won’t hear it). If you’re the kind of person who needs a bit of quiet in a crowd, these are the solution you’ve been looking for.

With these tips, go forth and enjoy Dreamforce!

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