Packing for SXSW 2012: The Light Digital Traveler

Packing for SXSW 2012: The Light Digital Traveler

Summary: Travel to SXSW requires packing a light digital footprint and being ready for downtime.


This week the world's biggest internet conference kicks off, and South By SouthWest Interactive brings thousands of people from all over to world to Austin, Texas.

Downtown Austin will be a packed sea of internet denizens day and night as people attend talks, panels, events and SXSW's legendary parties.

Hotel rooms for 2012 sold out in 2011. Additionally, a significant number of people could not obtain badges for SXSW 2012.

This year's higher registration price was a significant factor for badge scarcity.

I'm told that those with badges are being snarkily referred to as "the badge-worthy 1%" - #OccupySXSW, anyone?

Needless to say, staying connected and charged will be such a challenge that even the most experienced digital traveler is certain to feel frustration.

As a multi-year attendee and speaker, I have a slim digital traveling profile and a shortlist of things I simply won't travel without.

No battery blues: stay charged

I have a Mophie Powerstation 4000mAh 2.1A External Battery Charger for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, DROID, HTC and BlackBerry travel charger (pictured right, top).

The main devices I bring include Macbook Air, my small Samsung 4G hotspot (Verizon), Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G, and a point and shoot camera (this year it's going to be the Sony DSC-HX9V 16.2 MP). Most everything I bring charges via USB.

I've found that the top of the line in small battery chargers is the Mophie.

It's the size of an iPhone and charges anything I connect very quickly. It's a sexy little powerhouse that is well worth the price.

Roll your own secure connection

Get a VPN and use it every time you connect. You won't regret it, and it can speed up your online endeavors.

Check out Black VPN.

4-Port USB Travel Charger

Like many people, I'm sharing a hotel room with other people that have significant digital needs, and this 4-port, one outlet charger keeps my charging station area tidy.

I use a Cosmos 4-Port to wall USB ($12.99).

Bringing your own power strip is highly recommended, and can be a great conversation opener in cafes and conference lounges.

Macbook Air

Last year I ponied up the cash for a Macbook Air and I've never looked back.

For those of us that are more producers of content than consumers, my surprisingly rugged and thin 11" Air is everything I need.

It has survived much travel, it has been dropped twice, it's just fine for processing photo galleries and short videos and fits in my purse (or small bag) for ultra portability.

Optionally, I may bring my 1TB portable external drive for taking up the slack on files. It's a nice idea to plan on cloud storage as per usual, but connectivity problems at SXSW should never be underestimated - or considered predictable.

Last but not least, I always bring my Hydros Water Bottle. It converts tap water to clean, filtered water from the tap and makes me feel like I'm leaving a tiny bit less landfill in the gracious city of Austin.

If you have addition tips or suggestions, I consider digital travel a wonderful and constant work in progress: please share your tips via email and in the comments.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Samsung, BlackBerry, Mobility, Mobile OS, iPad, iPhone, HTC, Security

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  • SXSW Packing

    It may seem silly, since I'm a PC gal, I always travel with a small phillips head screw driver. You never know when you might spill coffee and need to air out your drive. No comment on TSA. ;)
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    In the spirit of staying slim and green, just tweet with #green #sxsw. My company, Green Mountain Energy, is providing carbon offsets based on tweets during SXSWi.

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      These carbon credit have the be the biggest scam ever devised (after bottled water). At least with bottled water a person actually got something. I have a bridge that I am selling, interested? By the way, I don't accept carbon credits.
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