As part of my VMworld blog series I’m going to write a bit about the travel and planning that I’m undertaking in order to make my trip a successful one. In my last post I discussed my previous VMworld Experience. This year I am traveling to San Fransisco for my first ever VMworld event outside of Europe, which is a fair bit of extra distance to cover (and some extra hoops to jump through).
I’m writing this post as a form of checklist of things that I’m having to cover off as a visitor from outside of the states. There are some prerequisites that need to be understood and adhered too before waltzing your way in to America.
To me, there are some absolute fundamental points that are important to cover off whilst making the plans to travel to VMworld USA.
Passport: Fairly straightforward. Do I have a passport, is it at least 2 years from expiration?
VISA: All international travelers to the USA need to complete a VISA application. Make sure you get this sorted in advance of the trip in case any issues arise. Pay the small admin fee and print the confirmation and bring it with you! Part of the VMworld USA Registration Process enables you to request a VISA Invitation letter if you need one.
Greenback: Get currency sorted, convert your money into those Dollar Bills! (Or more realistic denominations of choice).
Register: Before you go ahead and do anything else, make sure you’ve actually registered, booked and paid for the conference!
Here are my considerations towards travel. I like to know when, where and how I am getting to places!
Date & Time: Understanding the dates and times of key events! My plan is to leave the UK on Saturday 29th August and return on Sunday 6th September. This gives me a week in the USA to cover the conference and then prepare for heading back.
Get to Airport: To start my journey I need to get to London Heathrow Airport. I’ve decided to implement a solution which involves a third party vendor and a professional service to cater for the physical transport layer (I’ve booked a private hire taxi service). I’m also going to get a Taxi to and from my hotel when I arrive in SFO by hailing a cab on the day.
Flights: I consulted the VMworld Hotel and Travel Information. It seems that United, Delta and Lufthansa Airlines are on the list with an offer code. I opted out of these options in the end as I wanted to travel Saturday afternoon UK time due to personal commitments. I ended up booking with Virgin Atlantic as it wasn’t much difference in price and I have had good experiences with them in the past.
Accommodation: I’ve read a lot of people commenting on Twitter that the costs of Hotels in SFO central are expensive. On the flip side the airport hotels are cheaper but quite far out! Luckily, my work are paying for my visit and I’ve found a nice little hotel, with some great reviews, not far from Union Square called The Hotel California. This means I’m less than a 20 minute walk to the Moscone Center.
City Transport: I’ve signed up for a scheme called CityPASS. For a one off fee you get unlimited Tram (Cable Car) rides around SFO. Plus you also get deals on attractions around the city – which I am hoping to take advantage of in a few days downtime after the conference.
Know the Surroundings: I’m very much planning on having my phone with me and using City Mapper to map points of interest and get around. Luckily, my network provider in the UK lets me “feel at home” in the USA so I can use data roaming as though I’m back home in good old Blighty, at no extra cost!
Uber: If I am totally lost and have no clue what to do, I’m going to keep my hotel details on me and use Uber San Fransisco to get me home.
Something for the weekend?
For my trip, I’m not just going for the conference and then heading straight home. The massive difference in time zone is going to alter my perception of reality anyway, so I figured a few days after on the weekend would be good to acclimatise and also give me an opportunity to try and experience San Fransisco.
Alcatraz Island: When I last visited the city many years ago, I didn’t get to visit Alcatraz. Therefore I’ve booked with Alcatraz Cruises. The Night Tour is highly recommend but I’ve left it too late so have settled on the day tour.
Hopefully whilst I’m there I won’t have to save the city from any ex-military mercenaries, hell bent on holding the city to ransom!
Pier 39: I visited here before but it is a classic place to go. Fishermans Wharf has loads of entertainment and food, including Aquarium of the Bay. It isn’t far from the Golden Gate Bridge either, rounding off a whistle stop tour of all of the top things to see!
Rent a Motorcycle: Finally, one the things I’m planning on doing is renting a motorcycle. That way I can ride across the Golden Gate bridge and do a tour of the coastline. I’ve found a few places online that will let me rent a Harley Davidson Fat Boy for just $129 a day! For me, that is a full day’s entertainment!
My aim is to ride to visit some family friends in San Jose. Whilst I’m doing that, I might ride through Palo Alto and visit the VMware Office!
In my next post I’m going to run through the Content Catalog and the sessions that really stand out to me and the sessions that I’m booking when the Scheduler opens on July 21st!