It’s time once again to prepare ourselves for the endurance test that is PASS Summit, November 5-8. I’ve participated in the Summit Buddies program the past two years, but am taking this year off from it. Instead, I’m collecting information I’ve sent to to my buddies ahead of past Summits and posting it here on my blog, in hopes that it helps folks out. This is going to be broken down into a couple posts.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Denny Cherry’s Attendee Orientation webcast. He covers a lot of great stuff there.
The “hub” for everything at Summit is the Washington State Convention Center. If you booked your accommodations through PASS, you’re likely in a hotel that’s within a couple blocks. You have a few options to get downtown from the airport. It sounds like most people are taking Lyft or Uber these days; my personal preference to get into the city is the Sound Transit Link light rail line which has a stop 3-4 blocks from the convention center (Westlake Station). The walk through the airport terminal and parking structure to get to the train (which, depending on where you land, may be close to a mile) is great for stretching your legs after the long flight. The fare is under $5.
I do a lot of walking at Summit, preferring to walk everywhere I can. Most off-site events are located close enough to the hotels & convention center that they’re easily reached on foot (at night, consider walking in groups), but Lyft & Uber rides abound for longer/later treks. If you’re going somewhere with a group, just roll with whatever the group is doing.
To get back to the airport Friday evening, I use Lyft as the timing is more critical and I don’t want to be delayed by missing a train. Depending on where you’re starting from in the city, the fare is around $30.
If you discover that you’ve left something important at home, there’s a Target about six blocks from the convention center.
Lunch is provided Wednesday through Friday at the convention center (if you’re in a Pre-Con session, there may be lunch provided there as well). Breakfast is no longer part of the package, but you will receive a Starbucks gift card. Some sponsors offer breakfast with an early-morning session to talk about their product and service offerings. You can also choose from any of the eateries in downtown Seattle (Daily Grille, across from the convention center and attached to the Sheraton, is a favorite).
For dinner, there are many options available in the city, but keep your eyes and ears open for sponsor events. There’s also the Welcome Reception at the convention center on Tuesday evening, which you don’t want to miss.
Summit is a huge event and it can be exhausting. By the end of Thursday my first year I was ready to just give up, I was so tired. My second year, I made it to Noon on Friday before I was cooked. It was not until my 3rd Summit before I finally managed to find a way to pace myself. But even then, I’m usually asleep on my flight home Friday night before we reach 10,000 feet.
Wear good walking shoes and travel light. Depending on the weather and your tolerance for it, you can probably get away with taking a fleece or shell jacket. Seattle’s rain is often more like a mist. I don’t think I’ve seen heavy rain or even drizzle there (we did get snow one year, though). If your hotel is close to the convention center, you may not even want to take a jacket in with you. When I stayed at the Sheraton, I’d hop over from the hotel in shirt sleeves and just run back to my room to grab the jacket for longer excursions. Choose your attire based on your tolerance for Pacific Northwest temperatures, of course.
Leave your laptop at home if you can - just bring a small daypack to make it easier to carry things through the day and limit what you put in it. A couple years ago I wrote a blog post outlining what I bring to Summit and I think it mostly holds true today. I followed up with this post last year recapping what I took and how worthwhile it was and this year, I’ll be bringing my Go Pack. There’s WiFi in the convention center but it’s not always fast or reliable due to the large number of people using it. If you do plan on using the WiFi, consider a VPN service as well, just to be safe.
Staying hydrated is really important - lots of recirculated air, talking to lots of people, and walking around a lot (I average over 12000 steps/day and that includes the time spent sitting on airplanes!). A small water bottle, some electrolytes, and hand sanitizer are vital in preventing NerdFlu - and don’t forget to get your flu shot several weeks in advance. I’d recommend bringing some snacks as well - energy-dense, filling food in bar form (like protein bars) is pretty convenient to eat on the run without making a mess.
I’m Sure I Missed Something
Got a favorite Summit survival tip? Drop it in the comments below!