"What’s In Your Gear Bag?" - Citrix Synergy 2019 Edition
With Citrix Synergy 2019 just a few days away, I’m sure many of you are starting the process of getting packed and ready to go. As any tech conference veteran knows, one of the most important pieces of attending is making sure you have all of the things you need in your gear bag.
That’s right - your gear bag.
Most of us need to be able to stay connected while at a conference like Synergy. Whether it be for work, family, or making sure your phone stays charged through all of the parties you’ll be attending, it’s important to have the right things with you along the way. In 2017, I published a blog on myCUGC.org called "What’s In Your Gear Bag? Citrix Synergy 2017 Edition.” I’m not going to reinvent the wheel with an entirely new blog for 2019, but I will provide a few updates to the suggestions included there.
All too often overlooked, the gear bag itself is extremely important. A good bag will help you stay organized with easy access to everything you need. Like you, I’ve owned a lot of gear bags, but I’m currently rocking the Osprey Parsec. It’s not a gear bag in the traditional sense, but it's an amazing travel bag with everything you want – comfort, durability, easy access, and a plethora of pockets.
Tip: A lot of bags look the same, so if yours doesn’t stand out from the crowd on its own, consider adding something to differentiate it from the rest. You don't want to set it down somewhere around other bags and risk an awkward mix-up. Whether it’s an orange wraparound luggage tag on the handle to make it easy to spot (Go Bears!), a Night King keychain ( #TeamWhiteWalkers ), an exclusive CUGC button designed by the one and only Patrick Coble (get yours at the 2019 CUGC Pregame and at the Community Hub in Synergy Park) or something else that puts your mark on the bag, so you stand out from the crowd.
Your phone is probably the most important piece of gear you'll be hauling around at Synergy. You’ll be on it all day using the Citrix Synergy app, social media, calls/texts, email, snapping photos, and finding the best place to grab a drink for happy hour…or breakfast (no one is judging). Our phones are extremely personal devices that are extensions of ourselves. I’m an Android guy, and for my money nothing beats Google’s Pixel line of phones. I could go on and on about timely updates and buttery smooth performance, but the real reason I love these phones is the camera. I’m still rocking last year’s Pixel 2 XL, and I’d put its photos up against any phones out there. I've traveled the world with this thing and ended up with pictures that no one can believe came from a phone. I'll be using that camera to capture anything and everything at Citrix Synergy 2019.
It’s a fact we all have to face at some point during Synergy – work is going to have to get done. You never know when you’re going to get that call or text from the office, so you’ve got to keep a computer with you. I’m a big fan of Microsoft’s Surface line, and this year I’m bringing what has become my most trusted travel work companion - the Surface Go. Small and light with a great keyboard for its size, I can get real work done anywhere. And one of the best parts? USB-C charging (more on that to come…).
And If I need to get more precise than any laptop touchpad could provide, like digging into code or playing a round of old school Counter-Strike, I'll have my trusty Citrix X1 mouse on hand.
A battery pack is going to be your best friend. As Synergy veterans know, you’re going to be on your devices a lot each day, especially your phone. You’ll find charging stations throughout the conference center, but sometimes you’re not going to have access to them. That's where a battery pack can save the day. I carry a 20100 mAh battery pack from Anker with dual USB-C/USB-A charging. It can charge my phone or headphones several times over and it can even charge my Surface Go. A true lifesaver.
Cables, Chargers, Adapters, & Accessories
Long cables, short cables. USB-C, microUSB, lightning. Phone chargers, computer chargers. Depending on the gear you’re hauling around, you’re likely going to need multiple cables and chargers. I’ve found having a charger with multiple USB ports to be invaluable when traveling and when attending conferences. Makes it much easier to charge multiple devices at once or to let a friend charge as well while you chat.
You also might need to throw some adapters into your bag. Whether it’s for your computer or to use wired headphones with your Phone (#LongLiveTheHeadphoneJack), we’re all living that dongle life in one way or another. I’m lucky to not need many adapters these days, but there’s one I use regularly: USB-C to USB-A OTG. Whether I’m transferring files to/from a USB flash drive or grabbing some shots off a dedicated camera, it’s great to have quick access to files on my phone from multiple devices. It also works great with USB-C equipped computers like the Surface Go.
In 2017, I pleaded for USB-C to achieve world domination. It’s not quite there yet, but significant progress has been made.
It's always nice to know what time it is with a glance so you don't miss your next session or happy hour. Much like our phones, watches are a personal piece of tech that we almost always have with us. I go back and forth between a few regular watches and a couple of smartwatches. This year I’ll be bringing my Samsung Gear Sport. The rounded face and the metal band give it the look and feel of a more traditional watch, which I prefer. At first I thought the modern crop of smartwatches would just be fun toys, but I’ve found them to be incredibly useful day-to-day, especially at work. You’re not always able to check your phone – and sometimes you just don’t want to – so a smartwatch makes it easier to quickly access notifications and a wide range of other actions. The slight vibration on my wrist also makes sure I don't miss an important call, text, or calendar notification if my phone is on a table or plugged in somewhere.
Sometimes you just want to shut out the world around you and get lost in some tunes. When I travel, I like to have some that are comfortable for long periods of time, that do a good job of keeping the noise out, and that minimize the sound leakage coming from them to others around me. When it came time for me to update my headphones a couple years ago, I went with the Sony MX100 M2, and I couldn’t be happier. Longer battery life and more features than the Bose QC35. I always have these nearby.
Synergy is a great event for many different reasons, but networking is one of the most important. You’re going to meet a lot of people, so make sure you’ve got plenty of cards at the ready.
Stay hydrated! You’re bound to get parched at Synergy, and sometimes there are no beverages nearby. Bring a bottle with you to keep filled, preferable an insulated bottle that can pull double duty between water and a larger serving of coffee. It also cuts down on the paper and plastic waste of single use bottles and cups. Win-win.
Three things are certain in life – death, taxes, and drinking at Synergy. Whether it’s water, juice, soda pop or a refreshing adult beverage, you’ll be throwing back your fair share of drinks throughout the week, including at the CUGC Pregame. If you’ve got a can or a bottle, you’re going to want it to stay cool for as long as possible. That’s where your koozie comes in. You might call them can coolers or something entirely different, but they’re useful accessories for thirsty people.
You’ll be inside for most of your days at Synergy, but every now and then you’ll venture out into the streets of Atlanta. Keep a pair of sunglasses with you when you venture out. That Southern sun is no joke.
There’s a lot of swag to be had at Synergy, so make sure to leave some room in your bag to carry it around. Make the Community Hub in Synergy Park one of your first stops to get your CUGC items, including our 2019 member-designed t-shirt, stickers, buttons, and an exclusive minifig accessory.
Other Things to Consider
Here a few things to consider adding to your gear bag based on what you thinking you might need:
- Jacket - While it’s going to be warm outside, it’s going to be cool inside. I’m always warm, so I love the cool air that so many conferences are famous for. But if you’re the type who easily gets chilly, bring a jacket with you.
- Umbrella - The forecast for Atlanta next week looks pretty good, but you never know what’s going to pop up sometimes. Having an umbrella on hand is a good idea, especially if you have a bit of a walk from your hotel to the conference center. Now that I think about it, I’m going to toss one in my bag.
- Hand sanitizer - Masses of people = masses of germs. Yeah, maybe I should add a bottle to my bag too.
And while you likely won’t carry them in your gear bag, of course you always want to make sure to bring all of your CUGC shirts to wear throughout the week: