Prompted by Scriptorium Publishing’s Sarah O’Keefe’s one bag method for travelling (she doesn’t check any luggage into the hold of an airplane), I’ve been looking at ways of reducing the weight I need to carry when flying to conferences or to clients. I’ve called this “ultralight conferencing”.
For conference speaking, my focus has been on reducing the weight of the technology I need to take with me. A laptop typically weighs 3kg, with its bag, charger and cables taking it up to 5kg. So in recent years, I have been taking an iPad instead. I create my slides in Apple Keynote on a Macbook, and present them using the Keynote app for the iPad. The iPad weighs in at about 800 grams (including cover, charger and VGA adapter cable), so it’s considerably lighter.
Using the iPad as a device for presenting slides at conferences works well, but there are a few drawbacks. As you cannot charge the iPad and connect the VGA adapter cable at the same time, you do have some “range anxiety” as to whether you have enough battery life. Also, you cannot use a remote controller for moving your presentation onto the next slide (unless you use a special app on an iPhone), so you’re limited to presenting at the podium.
In 2014, I plan to use a Nexus 7. This tablet is smaller than the iPad, and it weighs in at around 350g, with charger and cables. Its smaller size also makes it more manageable for storing inside a flight bag.
There’s a free app called Tablet Remote that enables you to use an Android smartphone as a remote controller, so you have the option of walking around the stage and still be able to progress the slides.
Apple’s Keynote is not available on the Nexus, so this means you need to save any Keynote presentations in PowerPoint or Acrobat formats and view them in Google’s QuickOffice app. This makes a good job of displaying the slides, although the image reflection effect and the Gill Sans typeface don’t seem to come across.
There are also similar “range anxiety” issues with charging and displaying. Also, the VGA adapter Slimport cable for the Nexus 7 isn’t available yet.
It is possible to present slides from just a smartphone, but it’s not really practical to do any “office work” on it for a sustained period of time. Having a tablet with you gives you the ability to reply to emails, write blog posts and so on.
How do you travel light?
Do you have any techniques for travelling light when flying to conferences? Please share your thoughts below.