If you're even remotely engaging with the tech world, you're probably going to CES 201
Attending the biggest tech show of the year is exhausting enough, without worrying about having enough pants or chargers. So relax and take some tips from us. We have been there before.
You will hear a lot of people say that CES is a drain. It's the biggest tech show of the year with 200,000 people crowding over 2.7 million square feet of show floor: pack responsibly, my mother said.
But I will tell you the opposite. This is Vegas Baby and if you fly over 13 hours to get there from Australia like me, you better believe that this is your chance to be extravagant!
Gold is neutral, glitter is neutral, pizza is neutral. Gold trousers? They fit everything together. Glitter boots? Ditto A purse shaped like a piece of pizza? Where else will you place these notes on the top secret folding robot phone you saw today?
Comfortable shoes can still be cheeky. They can perform the full length of the Las Vegas Convention Center in style . My silver glitter shoes by Australian Rollie designers are lighter than a pair of flip flops and extremely comfortable, but still with the Vegas sheen. I even took her to the Australian desert because I'm basically an impractical idiot.
Get a bag that can do both. At every tech show, a good backpack is a must and the fans are your friend. Look for technology-friendly features such as a padded area for your laptop, a headphone haul hole, and a quick-access emergency jerky pocket.
Charge, charge, charge. While I do not spend the whole day with it before I irresistibly write lists, I spend that time preparing my equipment. Download some Netflix broadcasts to watch offline and charge your replacement batteries, laptop and iPad. And do not forget to charge your headphones with noise reduction – Newton's Fifth Law dictates that the crying baby is always on the run.
As someone who has been a journalist at the CES – holding meetings, sitting in front of the camera and trying not to embarrass me – for hundreds of years, I've sanded my wardrobe to a point so fine, it hurts. Among the mistakes of the past are too casual, too formal, too warm, not warm enough, too many socks and too few shoes.
Here are my must-haves, all of which fit into an overhead-compatible suitcase. If I have to check a bag, I know I'm doing it wrong.
Long-sleeved button-down shirt for every day plus one. I go to CES early and go late – this year I'm there for five working days. That means six decent shirts (the extra for even nights / just in case), those who can work alone with a pair of trousers or nice jeans and do not need an undershirt. I like wrinkle-free shirts with patterns that do not destroy cameras (no narrow stripes).
Two beautiful dark jeans, two pants. I'm wearing jeans on the plane, so the second one goes into my pocket. Pants need less space and look nicer, so they are my days with meetings and lots of videos of.
Two sports jackets. One for the plane and the bag. If need be, you can get away with just one, but I would like to have a second to avoid repeating too often. On many days I can skate the jacket completely, especially if the weather is nice, but they are great for going out or if you feel the need to look more beautiful. Actual suit? Never used
Two pairs of shoes and a pair of slippers (for the hotel room). The thickest pair of shoes for the plane, the second (nicer) pair for the bag. Also pajama pants for the hotel room, because I like this.
That's with the clothes. No outer jacket, windbreaker jacket, pullover and sweatshirts are IMO a waste of space. This is Vegas and winter is probably nice.
It's also the damn desert, which is why, like the CNET vet Kent German, I always pack a portable humidifier.
I bring a laptop, a mouse pad, a Nintendo switch, a Kindle reader, two phones (my personal note 8 and a proprietary iPhone 8 on two different networks), two headsets (both standard and Apple-issued Lightning ) I can actually record with this iPhone, the backup battery, and all the necessary chargers and dongles. There is always a temptation to expand with a tablet or a beautiful camera, but they are not necessary to me.
After all, CES is the only place in the universe where business cards are still useful to me.
This is my … how many CESes was that? Thirteen? Fourteen? They are drops in a bucket. Leaves at the bottom of a huge pile of foliage. I focused my journey with the laser on a routine that was burned into my brain.
OK, fine, I'm still panicking. Six nights in Vegas are technically three more than any person in the neon desert should spend. It's a marathon. And the key is comfort. I'm a middle-aged father who needs to be on stage a bit and make videos that make me look good. Otherwise, I would wear T-shirts and light jackets all week.
But CES also has some complications: at night it's bone-cold, a desert winter sometimes falls into the 30s. Layers are essential. Or do what you want.
Some things I do every year:
Batteries. Charger. Survival remains battery operated. Do not rely on anyone else. I'll bring a big 15,000 mAh battery and spare cables to power me anytime my nights have a fully charged phone. I am paranoid.
Underwear and socks beyond your needs. I'll simply plow you, get off at the hotel when I'm back at the hotel. Extras can use upholstery bags and I take too many socks and underwear with me.
Every day a nice shirt. If I was not in front of the camera, I would just wear a short-sleeved comfortable thing and bring a jacket. But I know that I will not return to my hotel every day as the car rides last forever. I wear what I want to wear all day, and make sure it looks passable.
Sports jacket, universal everything. I throw it over a T-shirt, wear it on stage and at night it's a layer when it gets cold. I bring two for all cases. They look good at the blackjack table. They forgive shirts that do not fit well.
Skechers and Vans. My comfortable shoes are fine at night, good during the day, I can run them 10 miles, and I do not care if someone stares at my feet.
Throw a light sweater into your pocket. It's getting cold. At night it always looks good. I usually never wear it.
Vegas has stores. There you can buy things. Do not worry. It's always time for a trip to the mall.
My things. iPhone, iPad, filled with movies, work laptop and lots of headphones: 3.5mm, Lightning and AirPods. Which smartwatch I'm wearing right now. A huge battery. Surcharge cable. My CPAP. I'm debating to bring a switch, and sometimes I do it. Replacement cards.
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