Thule brand backpack

What’s in my conference bag nowdays?

In Best Practices, Conferences, Technology by JD Dillon

What should you bring to a conference? There’s only so much that can fit in carry-on, and checked baggage is unnecessarily expensive and complicated.

I’ve been attending conferences for the better part of a decade, and my toolkit is constantly changing. To help those who are new to the conference world, I continuously update this post as I explore fresh digital and physical tools to improve my event experience.

So, here’s what’s currently in my conference bag …


  1. Thule Backpack: My version is a bit dated at this point, but I love the durability and diversity of compartments in these bags. It’s always with me.
  2. iPhone 8 Plus: My latest go-to device for note-taking, photo/video shooting and social sharing during the event.
  3. Mophie Powerstation XL: Still my FAVORITE piece of gear, as it has been keeping my mobile devices powered for full conference days for the past 5 years.
  4. Powerbeats 2 Wireless: Headphones for making calls and listening to audio without the danger/discomfort of dangling cables, especially useful given the lack of headphone jack on my iPhone.
  5. Macbook Pro: For staying productive done during downtimes and delivering presentations.
  6. Logitech Professional Presenter R800: My SECOND favorite item, as I’ve been using it to present for 7 years and haven’t even needed to change the batteries.
  7. Business Cards: Still carry the real thing because the majority of L&D pros haven’t gone fully digital for quick contact info.
  8. Post-its: Easy way to jot down notes to hand off to fellow participants.
  9. Pen: But only 1 – out of principle.
  10. Piles of Cables and Converters: Because you never know …


  1. Twitter: Still the center of my sharing universe 8 years and running.
  2. Event App: Typically used to create my session schedule with some added social benefits.
  3. Google Calendar: If it’s not in my calendar, I probably won’t do it.
  4. Drive: When Twitter won’t cut it and I need to take some long-form, sharable notes.
  5. Slack: Staying connected with my team during the event.
  6. Axonify: I start every day with an Axonify microlearning session.
  7. Flipboard: For curating resources shared during the event in real time, sometimes into a event-specific online magazines.
  8. Instagram: Always trying to capture visuals of the event experience.
  9. Swarm: I love keeping a digital record of my location visits over time.
  10. Lyft: How I get from place to place while on the road.

What’s in your conference bag nowadays? What apps do you find most valuable? What physical items do you carry with you? How do these tools improve your overall event experience?