Packing list for LCA 2012

I leave in two days for Linux Conf AU, in Ballarat, Australia! This is my second LCA, and I’ve given talks internationally at least 10 times. For the past six months, I’ve used a short checklist to help make sure I don’t miss the important things (ticket, passport, underwear!).

Today, I took a little more time to prepare and share what I’m taking with me.

This is based on Tantek’s SXSW Packing List. I share this list under Creative Commons 3.0.


  • I generally do not wear jeans or slacks to conferences, and when I do, my pants do not have pockets. They’re bulky, uncomfortable on long flights and, frankly, don’t look as good as a skirt. So, I’ve adjusted some of the stuff in the list for that wardrobe choice.
  • I generally do not wear t-shirts to conferences I speak at.
  • I am going without a smartphone at the moment. My last one was stolen in a Vancouver, BC coffee shop in early December 2011. I’ve taken it as an opportunity to simplify, and so far, I feel better.

Night before

Lay out your outfit for the next day.

  • Underclothes (bra, underwear), socks and a tank-top slip. – I found these Dynamic nylon/spandex slips that go under sweaters and dresses. Super versatile, cheap ($16?) and look great. Having trouble finding them online, but Sloan sells them in Portland.
  • Dress – Something simple that will be comfortable on the plane, like this Urban Outfitters knit drape dress.
  • Leggings – black, probably bring two pair and again, these look great under a dress or sweater and can be taken off when you transition from 30F to 30C weather. I found the best value fleece leggings at Ipnosi.
  • Boots – black, zippered are my favorites. I’m going to another conference immediately after LCA back in the US, so I need something other than sandals for the trip.
  • Hooded jacket – I’m taking a green hooded duck canvas jacket with zippered pockets. Great with a dress, and nice, low-germ substitute for a germ-rich airline blanket during the 10+ hour flight.


  • A backpack – I have a NorthFace Surge (have had three of these). They will often dip below $100 in certain colors. The laptop area is a little big for the Air, but overall, this is a solid, spacious pack. I’ve put 10 days worth of stuff for a conference and holiday in Japan with this pack. Has a nice bonus pocket in the bottom and useful double zipper on the front for stuffing random documents and quick access to a Kindle, a few inner pockets for separating tools, pills and etc..

Here’s all the stuff that goes into my backpack!


  • Passport and Visa (if necessary) – And you might need a Visa where you’re going, so check before you leave! A visa for a 3-month trip to Australia is usually fast and easy.
  • Wallet – I bring ID, I try not to bring keys with me since my neighbors have keys and my husband picks me up and drops me off at the airport.
  • Ear plugs – Essential for dorm accommodations and getting stuck in airports.
  • Small, unlined notebook – I doodle, and leave notes for people. Nice if there are perforated pages in the back so that the binding of the book doesn’t fall apart after ripping out pages.
  • Pens and a pencil – Pencil is more durable in the rain (hail, Portland!)
  • Burts Beeswax Lip Balm – Planes and hotels are so dry!
  • Small bottle of lotion – Washing hands and filtered air ends up leaving my face and hands chapped.
  • Small Camera – I have a Canon Elph. Bring an extra SD card in case your existing one goes corrupt!
  • e-reader – I have a Kindle, but any e-reading device will do. I’m bringing Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception as my research project for the flights.
  • Book – I’m also bringing a The Graveyard Book for taxi-ing and lift-off. A thick newspaper might also work here.
  • US-based Phone – I currently have an LG-VX5600 with no data plan on Verizon. I pay $10/mo on a family plan that has something like 300 texts and supports at least 300 minutes per person.
  • Laptop – I’ve got a 13″ Air. Loving it so far.
  • Music storage device – maybe an iPod/iTouch.
  • A paper envelope – for storing receipts and stray bits of paper with notes.
  • Ziplog bags – for liquids getting through the airport, packing away nicknacks, temporary storage for food, an easy water cup and dealing with anything that might explode in transit.
  • Handmade bags and enclosures for tech gadgets – I made two pouches to hold cables, devices and power converters. I hate having lots of stray items rolling around in bags. This helps me not lose things and maintain a little more order. Having a sewing machine makes this easy – I made two items last night for the trip! 🙂

Secondary contents

  • Ocular backup – I talked my eye doctor into giving me a set of disposable contacts for last-minute scuba dives or impromptu 2-6am clubbing where glasses would just be silly. I also always bring a spare pair of glasses and my prescription.
  • Unruled pad of paper – For taking notes in sessions and bigger sketching
  • Energy bars – two or three for the plane. I prefer Clif bars and Lara bars. Builder bars (20g of protein!) are good if you’re going to have a series of breakfasts that are all carbs.
  • Peppermint gum – coffee, carbs == bad breath
  • Hat – Good for runs in hot, sunny weather, or instant camouflage in crowded rooms.
  • Anker Astro2 8400mAh External Battery – Includes a flashlight. Great for charging any of your devices and making friends.
  • John’s Phone – a simple phone that can be used most anywhere. Doesn’t support texting, which may be an issue. 🙂 It’s a quad-band phone that supports 2G / GSM 850-900-1800-1900 Mhz. The only things it *doesn’t* support are pure 3G and CDMA networks. My plan is to get a Telstra SIM at the airport when I arrive. Suggestions welcome.
  • Ethernet cable – the dorm rooms at LCA in ballarat don’t have wireless.
  • earbud headphones
  • Small laptop/shoulder bag – A tiny bag to just carry your laptop. Much more convenient in the evenings and brunches.
  • Universal power adapter – I’ve used this particular model in five countries. I can’t say that it’s my favorite – if I had thought about it earlier, I would have gotten an AU power converter plug a couple weeks ago!
  • Sandals – something to change into after landing in warm weather!

Carry-on bag

I use an eBags Motherlode eTech Mini. I’ve had three of them, and the worst part is eventually the zipper dies. They have a lifetime warranty policy, but I travel enough that I’ve just bought a new bag rather than wait for a repair. But I’ll be testing that next month when I’m home for a while. 🙂

For the carry-on

  • Empty Water bottle + carabiner – so important when you’re in dry, air conditioned climate for weeks.
  • Energy bars – I take about 2 per day of the trip
  • Stain remover – Great suggestion from Tantek, and essential when you’re on the road perpetually.
  • Woolight liquid detergent – great for hand-washables and dry-clean-only dresses. And way cheaper than $200 to get five days of clothes cleaned in a hotel laundry.
  • Sunblock and swimsuit – Always bring a suit regardless of the weather. Nice bottom layer in a pinch.
  • Fleece pants – excellent for sleeping and laundry day while travelling.
  • Pumas – pair of walking/running shoes for any occasion.
  • 6 pairs underwear, socks – and however many bras are appropriate
  • Workout gear – depends on your body type, but I bring 2 sport-bras, short fast-drying yoga pants and a fast-drying technical top. Much easier to clean than cotton. In unfamiliar or cross-country terrain, I bring a separate pair of running shoes and a plastic bag to protect everything else from the dirt.
  • 2 dresses, 2 skirts, 1 pair pants, 4 tops, 1 sweater – enough outfits for three talks, a keynote and an evening out!
  • Lip gloss, lipstick and eyeshadow – I stick with a Shiseido slightly-sparkly lip gloss, MAC red lipstick for evenings and a black/white combo eye shadow. I use the black for eye liner and the white for accents.
  • Bathroom kit – includes: toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, shaver, nail clippers, face moisturizer, deodorant, hair product, vitamin C, advil and a multi-vitamin.

Tech pre-work

  • Set up a perma-logged in IRC session for yourself. I use irssi in a screen session on a cloud-hosted virtual machine.
  • Set up bitlbee to login to your IM in the same session. This is awesome for people who don’t use IRC leaving you notes while you’re offline.
  • Check out the wiki for any events shaping up and add those to your calendar or TripIt plans.

Print your boarding pass

24 hours before your flight, be sure to:

  • Log on to your airline’s website
  • check-in online
  • print your boarding pass
  • put it in your backpack

Night before

  • Collect devices and chargers: phone, Kindle, laptop, usb power supply. Maybe also tablet. Pack spare batteries in checked luggage.
  • Confirm in wallet: enough US cash for two meals, credit card, debit card, identification. If you have status on an airline, bring the card for cutting in line.
  • Confirm how you’re getting to the airport, and the time you need to be there.
  • Confirm how you’re getting from the destination airport to your hotel or first stop.

Morning of

  • Shower and put on clothes laid out the night before
  • Put: laptop, kindle, phone, notebook, keys, any reading material, wallet and IDs in carry on. Include:
    • power cable(s) and supply(s),
    • video adapter(s) connected to your external monitors
  • Arrive at airport 90 minutes early
  • Join the IRC channel

Have a great flight!


  • Pick up a SIM for your phone – for Melbourne, that’s at the nearest Telstra store, and there’s one in the airport.
  • Take public transit into town – There’s almost always a bus or train that will take you into the downtown of a major city. Melbourne has a skybus that leaves every 10 minutes from the terminal right into downtown!

And your adventure begins! 🙂

3 thoughts on Packing list for LCA 2012

Comments are closed.

  1. Have a great trip! I’d loan you my Australian power adapter if it wasn’t packed already.

    Arrive at airport 90 minutes early

    No comment. 😉