Daily Archives: June 9, 2013

6 days to go, tips for on the move

Louisa woke me very early today so I’ve made good progress on my last big talk. Just one section to rewrite and then I’ll practice Tuesday morning (come and sit in and give me feedback if you are in the vicinity; Tuesday 11 June at 9.30am on Level 3 of the Australian Hearing Hub, Macquarie University). I’m a little worried that my talk is way too long but hopefully it’s interesting. We’ll see. In the 20 years I have been going to conferences I have seen so many different kinds of Keynote Talks: talks that are light on data but inspire you with a big picture; talks that are all data (lots and lots and lots of data) and not so many grand ideas; talks that are quite impersonal and objective; and talks that reflect the speaker’s journey and passions as much as their work.

What’s the best (kind of) Keynote Talk you’ve seen?

Since I’ve made good progress on the talk and am likely to have it completely drafted for my practice on Tuesday morning, I am happy to think about the packing and planning again. So it was a case of good timing today when I received an email from my friend, Karen G (hi Karen!). She sent me a few tips for London sightseeing: the Yeoman Warder’s Tour in the Tower of London and audio tours for kids in the British Museum. I love audio tours! So much better than finding your own way to the best exhibits and reading little plaques! She also sent me some tips about eating cheaply in London: Boots pharmacy, Budgen’s supermarket and Pret a Manger. I knew about the first and the third but not the second. Great options for fresh sandwiches, cut fruit, healthy snacks and inexpensive drinks.

Finally, Karen warned me that in the last few months there has been a huge increase in the number of iPhones and iPads stolen in London from people using them while out and about on the street and in cafes. I presume by snatch and run or pick pocketing? As you might have read, we gave Oliver a new iPad mini as an early birthday present for this trip. The last thing we want is for it to be stolen or lost. And as I’ve prepared for our trip I’ve tossed up whether to use travel apps (on my iPhone or Oliver’s iPad mini) to navigate or just use an old-fashioned guidebook. I had a well-loved London Eyewitness Travel guide, which one of my brothers never returned after borrowing it for a trip. In the end I decided to buy a copy of the Lonely Planet’s new, anniversary London guidebook (on sale for $20 at Myer last week). Although I am almost entirely digital in my workflow (on my Mac Book and iPad) and reading (with a Kindle), I will still prefer to pop this in our day pack as we wander around and not risk the iPads being stolen or lost.

Our other (mild) defence against theft is to disguise the iPads. I really love iPad DODOCases. They are hand-made in San Francisco by a traditional book binding company and make your iPad look like a hard cover book. Hopefully less attractive to thieves?! Here is a picture of Oliver’s new cover — outside and inside — and my cover. They are really sturdy and beautifully made.

My last “on the move” tip for today is the Cash Passport. Normally when I travel I take a small amount of the local currency and then withdraw money at ATMs at my destination. I’ve run into a couple of problems with this strategy: not being able to find an ATM when I need it or the ATM not spitting out the cash but deducting my balance anyway. My bank also charges a hefty fee for the cash advance and the exchange rate is pretty lousy. This time I am using a multi-currency Travelex Cash Passport. You buy it at a Travelex branch or online before you leave and load it with amounts of the currencies you need. So I have one loaded with pounds and with euros. Unfortunately I can’t load kroners on it. You get two cards (with different pins) in case you lose one or one is stolen. You can check your balance online and reload the card if you need to. Most importantly, the Cash Passport is partnered with MasterCard, so you can use it at any ATM or point of sale that accepts MasterCard. I bought mine on Friday and locked in the exchange rates (which are falling for the Australian dollar).

So we are nearly all set. In these last few days we’ll be picking up dry cleaning, washing clothes we want to take (and wearing all our daggy clothes!), packing, getting together paperwork, backing stuff up on Dropbox, etc etc.

Any last-minute (or not really that last-minute compared to when other people pack) tips for us?