*2017 Note: This needs to be updated somewhat. It’s in the works. Suggestions are welcome!
The tweet that inspired this blog post happened to deal with one of NASA’s Space Shuttle launch tweetups, in this case the one held for the final launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-134):
Are you heading to a day-long or multi-day event where you anticipate using social media to document and share the experience with friends, family and followers? Perhaps you have been selected to attend a formal tweetup / social media event, such as an upcoming NASA Social, Space Camp Tweetup, NASM Pilot Day Tweetup, or similar? Whatever the situation, you’ll want to arrive prepared, and the best way to do that is to develop a gear list. This is my attempt at providing a definitive tweetup attendee gear list that you can whittle down, as needed, to suit your situation.
NOTE: “Bring half of what you think you need, and twice as much money” is a humorous, but effective, guide to packing, especially if you’re a gadget geek like I am. You only have two hands, so maybe you don’t need to pack your laptop, iPhone, iPad and Amazon Kindle! As for bringing twice as much money as you think you need, in my experience that definitely applies anytime you visit a location with a well-stocked giftshop!
Standard Travel Essentials (Non-Electronics)
- Driver’s license / government photo ID
- Any other identification required by the location you’re visiting, such as these Kennedy Space Center identification requirements for tweetups utilizing the KSC press site and other facilities.
- Money, in whatever form you prefer it — cash, plastic, traveler’s checks
- Glasses and/or Sunglasses
- Personal toiletries
- Seasonally- and venue-appropriate clothing, with the ability to add a layer if you get cold
- For tweetups at KSC: Long pants and flat, closed-toe shoes are required attire for any operational area, otherwise there will be places you will not be permitted to go!
- Comfortable footwear, particularly if you expect to do a lot of walking or standing
- Sun Protection:
- Hat, if planning to be outdoors
- Bandana or pack towel, if planning to be outdoors in hot weather
- Insect repellent if planning to be outdoors
- Chewing gum, if flying
- Backpack, tote or other method of transporting your gear during the tweetup
Electronics / Geek Gear (Not a comprehensive list)
- Surge-protected power strip, like this one, rather than just a standard unprotected one
- Global Positioning System (GPS) or GPS-enabled electronic device (smartphone)
- GPS power adapter/car adapter
- GPS mount (for standard GPS units)
- Laptop or netbook + power brick/charger
- Any peripherals you need, such as a mouse or USB hub for charging other gear
- Tablet (example: iPad) + charger
- Smartphone + charger and/or spare batteries
- Digital SLR and/or Point & Shoot camera + power brick/charger and/or spare batteries
- Memory cards
- Compatible card reader
- Interchangeable lenses
- Camera bag
- Lens cleaner / lens pen / microfiber cloth
- Any desired filters or other accessories like lens hoods, etc.
- Memory cards
- A portable power source that can recharge 1 or more of your electronic devices more than once.
- Lightweight / travel headphones
- A few spare zipper-lock bags in case you need to protect your gear from a spill or weather
Networking & Personal Items
- Business cards – include your Twitter ID
- For autographs:
- Permanent marker
- Something to collect signatures on
If You Have Access to Your Car (such as at a Kennedy Space Center NASATweetup)
- Cooler with ice
- Bottled water and other non-alcoholic beverages
- Fresh food, snacks
- Rain gear if planning to be outdoors
- Water bottle with lid
- Any gear you realize you didn’t need afterall… ;-)
Formal, organized tweetup events, such as NASA Tweetups held at Kennedy Space Center and other NASA centers, provide attendees with seating, access to powerstrips or recharging stations, and wi-fi. Bear in mind that the wi-fi and cellular network can and does get bogged down during periods of heavy usage, so you may find yourself drafting tweets or posts to send later.
Above all else, enjoy the experience and meet as many people as you can. The most rewarding take-away from a successful tweetup is to have shared time with a diverse collective of talented and passionate people who share some of the same interests as yourself.
If the event you’re heading to has a public wiki and you’d like to port this list to the wiki, go for it! For example, I’ve posted this to the STS-135 NASATweetup wiki.