Travel light, travel relaxed

I spent this weekend in Amsterdam at the Drupal Process Meetup, and it’s been a great experience! I had many interesting talks with other Drupal business owners, learned a lot in the Openspace-format discussion rounds and enjoyed having dinner together in downtown Amsterdam. As I’m writing this article, I’m reclining in an Eames Lounge Chair and listening to relaxing music at the amazing CitizenM hotel near Schiphol Airport.

Since I intend to do much more business trips this year, I put some thought into making my travel as stress-free as possible. I flew with EasyJet who let you print out your boarding pass in advance. When I arrived at the airport, I could go directly through security without having to check in (and pay for) baggage because I was able to fit everything I needed into my backpack. I had it on me all the time, so I didn’t have to worry about my stuff getting stolen. After landing in Amsterdam, instead of having to wait at the baggage claim, I went directly to the hotel and arrived there completely relaxed.

Packing light means to consciously limit yourself to the things you’ll actually need. That you need fresh clothes for every day of your journey doesn’t mean you need different clothes for every day. I didn’t have that realization until recently; before, when I prepared for a 5 day vacation, I packed 5 T-shirts. This time, I simply packed a tube of travel detergent. By washing my stuff, I can get by, for example, with three pairs of socks: One to wear today, one for tomorrow and one that’s currently drying after doing the laundry. Especially outdoor and travel clothes will easily dry over night.

Choosing equipment that makes traveling light easy does of course also apply to tech stuff. With my iPhone, Macbook Air and Kindle, I carried around both my complete office and my book shelf, all adding up to less than 2kg.

These are two of many articles you can find on the Web about packing light:

Try it out, you’ll be amazed how stress-free traveling becomes when you minimize your baggage!

Travel tips for sysadmins

OpenDNS recently added a datacenter location in Frankfurt, Germany. On their blog, George Patterson, Director of Operations for OpenDNS, not only posted some pictures of their server rack but also a bunch of tips for sysadmins that have to travel to a remote facility:

  • Have a solid deployment checklist of everything you want at the site. If you don’t bring all necessary tools and equipment with you, getting them will cost you extra time.
  • Set up all your power at the datacenter and make sure it’s working before you leave. Don’t waste time waiting for the datacenter staff to have your power supply connected. And have them install a remote manageable power distribution unit, so you don’t have to pay remote-hands charges.
  • If you can avoid it, don’t book a flight until your gear has cleared customs. Depending on the country, customs handling can take from a few days to several weeks. Don’t just hope that your gear will arrive earlier than you.
  • Always plan for extra days. You shouldn’t have to go into fast-forward mode because something took a bit longer than planned; that will only account for more problems. Plan for some extra days and if you’ll finish early, there probably will be more to go and see than only a datacenter.
  • Take photos along the way, and at the end. If your site documentation includes images, it’s very easy to point a remote tech to the right place.

Read George’s whole blog post on the OpenDNS blog!