PASS Summit Tip: Pack Some Power!

This PASS Summit tip is all about power. Electricity. Inconveniencing electrons for your own personal benefit. If you're attending a tech conference, chances are really good you'll have multiple computing devices with you, and each of those devices will need power. And if you're like me, you'll be doing plenty of tweeting and picture-taking, and perhaps your device will be using more power than normal so you may need to charge more frequently. With a little planning ahead and some help from this post, you can make sure all your devices stay charged all day long!

USB Wall Adapters

If you have lots of devices to charge, you'll need lots of USB ports for charging. A good multi-port USB wall adapter is handy whether travelling to PASS Summit or anywhere else. This is an accessory that never leaves my work backpack. I've been very satisfied with this 4-port model from Anker. It charges devices quickly, can deliver 2 amps on each port simultaneously, and can convert the 220V/50Hz power that the rest of the World uses, so no voltage adapters necessary! On top of all that, it's small and the prongs fold in for easy packing. I really don't leave home without it!

USB Batteries

These first appeared on the market a few years ago, and I really believe they are essential for conferences. Basically they are a battery with one or more USB ports on it. Charge it up overnight, and then you can use it to recharge your devices throughout the day. They come in varying sizes and capacities, from ones that can literally jumpstart a car (hint: you probably don't need this) to tiny ones the size of a lipstick tube. I carry two of these with me at summit. One is larger, stays in my backpack and is with me during the day. The second is smaller and weighs less, and that's what comes out with me in the evenings. You can find plenty of these online; I've always had good luck with ones from Anker.

At PASS Summit you will find many places to charge your devices. There's lots of power strips in the community zone and plenty of other nooks throughout the convention center. Where you won't find much power is in the session rooms. And chances are you're not going to want to miss out on sessions so you can charge your phone (even if you did buy the recordings). This is where USB batteries really shine, because you can charge your devices anywhere at anytime. Even if it's during a session where the nearest outlet is across the room.

Charging Cables

If you're ordering a USB battery to charge your devices, it may be a good time to get a few additional charging cables as well. I have never been disappointed with the ones sold by Monoprice.

Extension Cords & Power Strips

With all of the above charging accessories, why not add a bit of power distribution as well? If you find yourself needing an extension cord while at PASS Summit you won't be out of luck, there is a Target a few blocks from the convention center. But if you're building out a power kit for travel, buy it at a hardware store and save yourself some money. I always keep a 6 foot extension cord in my backpack. It's nothing fancy, and cost me about $3. Whenever I travel I also keep a 15′ cord in my luggage – this can be immensely helpful at the hotel if there are no power outlets where you need them.

Finally, one thing I carry with me at Summit that isn't usually otherwise in my backpack is a simple 6-outlet power strip. You never know where you might need one. I've also come across situations where a power strip is fully utilized and more people would like to plug in, and then you can be the prepared Boy/Girl Scout who saves the day!

Some of these suggestions may seem like no-brainers, but I can tell you I was most definitely not prepared power-wise for my first PASS Summit. I hope no one else has to suffer that same fate!