Speaker Tech Tackle Box: Must-Pack Travel Essentials for Public Speakers

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If you're speaking regularly, you're likely doing a lot of travel. And if you're ramping up travel, you're likely embarking on a trial-and-error process of deciding what to pack, what to leave behind, and how to arrange it all in a way that makes your life easier.

This is something new speakers ask me about a lot, and after I did an Instagram Story on this that received a lot of positive feedback, I decided it was worthy of a deeper dive. Below you'll find a few options for how to explore this information!

  1. You can watch the YouTube video above for a full walk-through.
  2. Below, there's an interactive infographic featuring all my favorite speaker tech items. Hover over each item to learn more or click to add them to your Amazon cart. (Nice and easy!)
  3. Below that, there's a longer list where I give a bit more detail and links for each item. 

Without further ado, let's dive into my Speaker Tech Tackle Box to see all the must-pack items you need to have before you head off to your next gig and hit the stage.

Hover over the items in the image below to see more information, and click to buy.

The 10 Tech Items Every Speaker Should Pack

1. Laptop Charger

Now, I know what you're thinking. "I have a charger for my laptop, and I always pack it." Nope. You won't. At some point, you'll forget and you'll be the grumpiest speaker.  It's not worth the risk. Make the investment to buy a second laptop charger for the sole purpose of keeping in your travel bag. Because you don't have to "pack" it, you'll never forget it.

Seriously. I learned this one the hard way, and that's why it's first. I once forgot to pack my charger for a trip, and wound up spending several hours trying to creatively solve this problem. I begged fellow attendees to let me borrow one via social media, which is not a good look for a speaker. I asked my hotel if anyone forgot one, but they didn't. I tried to hire a local TaskRabbit at my destination to go buy me one, but nobody bit. I ultimately had to pay for a Taxi to take me to the nearest BestBuy to buy a charger, and made it just in time to my gig. Save yourself the stress (and the last minute expense). Trust me.

>>> If you're a mac like me, here's the $74 Macbook charger and the $19 extension cable.

2. Phone Charger

Same as above. These things are cheap, so pick up an extra USB cord and additional wall adapter for your phone so you've always got a charger in your bag. No forgetting, no phone dying while you're hailing a cab, getting directions to your venue, emailing an organizer or calling family back home.

While you're at it, opt for an extra long USB cord. With a 5-foot or 10-foot cord, you'll be able to plug in at the hotel (where outlets are often in the least convenient places), from the backseat of your taxi or Uber, or to your external battey pack tucked away in your bag. (More on that in a bit).

>>> This two-pack of lightning USB for iPhones is only $13. This wall adapter block is just $11 and has two USB ports.

3. USB/Flashdrives

If you use slides, this is key. No matter how early you send your slides, there's always a possibility that they don't end up in the room where you're presenting. Maybe the rooms swapped, the time's switched, or something just got lost. If you've got a flash drive with your presentation on it, you'll save the day for your tech team and event organizers (and save yourself some panic).

Carry several, because these things are tiny and easy to lose. And make sure they're large enough to hold a hefty presentation, or more than one. (I opt for 16GB over 1GB, for that reason).

>>> Here's a multi-pack of convenient swivel-drives for just $20.

4. Slide Advancer/Clicker

Chances are, most places you go to speak will have one of these already set up and ready to go. But if you're presenting off your own computer, or working with a small venue (school, local business, church, or community center) that's less likely to have a full tech team, then having one of these may come in handy.

It's a fairly cheap insurance policy to ensure you're going to be able to advance your slides.

>>> I go with the Logitech R400, which is $35, and it include a laser-pointer and a convenient carry-bag.

5. VGA Adapter

If you ever need to plug your computer in and present slides or other material from your own laptop, it's a good idea to have the necessary adapter/cord to do so. Most tech crews will have asked in advance whether you need this, and will have one on hand, but it's a good thing to carry just in case. (If something goes wrong, wouldn't you rather be prepared than have to present without your visuals? I would.)

This is usually a VGA (Video Graphic Array) Adapter. You want to make sure whatever VGA adapter you buy includes an opposite end that will fit into the ports on your computer (For me, as a Mac, this means Thunderbolt>VGA).

>>> I have this Apple VGA/Thunderbolt adapter, which I picked up for $29 on Amazon.

6. Ethernet Cord (& Adapter)

Even if you don't use the internet in your stage presentation, you may need to hop on a video call, send your presentations or other large files, or otherwise just conduct some non-stage business from your laptop while you're on the road. Sometimes, the hotel wifi isn't up to snuff, and the conference wifi is likely being over-taxed by so many attendees, so having the ability to plug in with a hard line is helpful.

>>> Any ethernet cable will do. This one is $5. I also have the thunderbolt/Ethernet Mac Adapter ($29).

7. Headphones (For all devices)

Having headphones for your various devices is key for listening to podcasts or music, conducting calls on the road, connecting with family and friends back home while you're away and more. Make sure you've got a reliable set for whichever devices you may be doing any of that from (phones, computers, etc.)

For me, one of the ways I rehearse is actually to record one of my run-throughs with Voice Memos on my phone so that I can listen back to the audio of my presentation. But also, sometimes I just need some music to get pumped up before the stage, and I don't need to share my jams with the whole room.

>>> Headphones are super personal, so go with what you like. I carry the Apple earbuds with lightning cable for my phone ($29) and an Apple pair with the standard audio connector for my laptop ($10).

8. External Charging Pack

Travel days are long, and you won't always have access to an outlet in an airport, on a plane, or at the venue. Prevent your battery form dying in crucial moments with an external battery pack. I carry one of these in my Speaker Tech Tackle Box, but I actually love it so much I have a second on in my regular day-to-day bag for non-travel too.

There are tons of brands, sizes, versions, etc. Find a balance between "easy to carry" and "amount of charge it will hold/deliver," because many of the smallest and most convenient ones barely deliver a 50% battery boost. (No thanks.) And this is where your extra-long charging cable comes in, because you can plug your phone into the pack, drop it into your bag, and run that cord all the way up and out so you can use your phone as normal.

>>> I have several of these $26 Jackery Battery packs. They charge my phone 3+ times before needing to be charged themselves.

9. Phone Tripod/Stand

Having a tripod that fits your phone is a cheap and lightweight way to turn your trip into a content production shoot. Here's a few use cases: Set the phone up to face the audience and record audience reaction to your talk for studying and improving later. Set the phone up on stage to film yourself from a cool angle for social content and your reel. Record interviews with other experts. Record video testimonials on site. Record some cool social content for your Instagram, Snapchat, FB Live or anything else.

>>> I use the JOBY GripTight GorillaPod which is $27 on Amazon. I dig the flexible legs for using the tripod anywhere. (I've attached it to podiums, mic stands, railings, arm rests and more.)

10. Batteries/Additional Chargers

If you carry any devices that don't plug into the wall, and aren't covered by the wall chargers or battery packs you have, then be sure to throw a few back-up batteries in your bag too. (I'm talking AAA, AA, 9Volt, watch batteries, whatever you need). Even if they have them in the hotel gift shop or at the airport, they've going to be way more expensive than necessary. Worth throwing a few in our bag to save down the line.

Now's a good time to mention you should also snag a backup charger for any other devices you travel with that do need a charger. Your e-reader, Fitbit, Apple Watch, music player, whatever else you need.

>>> I can't tell you what you need here. Check your devices to see what size you need!

BONUS ITEMS

BagSmart Travel Cable Organizer

BONUS: A Bag That Keeps It All Together

If you don't want your bag looking like a total mess, with all these things, then you need some sort of cable organizer or zipper bag to hold it all together. Pro-tip: you can also wrap/bundle your cables with some low-tech solutions like rubber bands, hair ties, binder clips, and twist ties to keep them from tangling.

>>> I'm seriously obsessed with my BagSmart Travel Cable Organizer. I got it in black, but it comes in a few colors (blue, teal, rose) if you're into that. It's got zipper pouches and plenty of stretchy straps to hold all your cords in place!

BONUS: Car Adapter

If you're taking taxis, Ubers, Lyfts or renting a car when you travel, then a car adapter is going to come in handy. (Again, your extra long cord is a bonus here, because it will allow you to plug in from the back seat of a taxi or rideshare without having to hang over the console and crown your driver's personal space.)

>>> This USB/car adapter is only $10.

BONUS: Surge Protector

Sometimes one outlet isn't enough. We all have a lot of devices. You'll be everyone's hero at the airpot or the hotel Starbucks when you can turn one outlet into two, plus a few USBs.

>>> I carry this $15 one from CableMatters.

BONUS: International Power Adapter

If you're lucky enough to have some international gigs, then you're going to need to plug I everything we've discussed in some unfamiliar-shaped outlets. Look for one that has multiple location/country options (versus having to buy new ones for each trip), and try to find one that has outlets as well as USB adapters so you can maximize the single outlet you can convert.

>>> I couldn't find the GO-Travel World Adapter I bought in an airport in New Zealand (lesson learned), but this $18 one is pretty similar.

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Heads up: This page contains affiliate links, which means I may get a reward for any sales I refer, at no extra cost to you. Since I only recommend products and services I actually like and use, hopefully this is a win/win!