I’m in a really privileged position where I’ve spent over a decade speaking at events all over the world. That has been made possible by being part of the Oracle ACE Program, and more recently the Oracle Developer Champion program, who have provided funding for some of the events I’ve participated in.
I guess it’s easy for someone on the outside looking in to think this is a really cushy number, but after my latest trip I started to think about the true cost of all this, so I started to check and got a bit of a shock.
- I’ve paid for a number of trips this year myself, and I’ve got some more to come which I’m paying for.
- I regularly buy additional holidays from work, as I need more days away from work that I get by default. I don’t go on holiday. I go to conferences.
- Even when I’m on a funded trip, I end up spending a lot of extra money. This includes some transport that is not covered, some hotel nights that are not covered, washing, visas and vaccinations etc. You also end up spending a lot of money on food, as you are often having to buy hotel or restaurant food, which is kind-of expensive. I don’t do that at home. 🙂 There are often miscellaneous expenses that just come out of nowhere, and you are in a different country, so you just buy your way out of the inconvenience…
- I’ve also spent my own money on upgrading some flights. This is not strictly necessary, but when you have a long flight and know tomorrow you will be on stage it can be kind-of daunting. Once again you are just buying your way out of a potential problem.
You can get involved in the community for free by blogging and getting involved in social media, but once you start to travel to conferences the costs start to mount up pretty quickly. I get it really easy compared to a lot of people, but it’s still surprising how much it comes to. For this year alone it’s several thousand pounds. It’s great if your company helps you with this. Mine doesn’t.
I’ve already mentioned about having to buy back extra holidays. The travel time is obvious, but there are other things that are not so obvious.
- If you are doing new talks, you have to prep them.
- Even existing talks require some rehearsal.
- Depending on potential audience, you have to prepare alternatives, or at least plan for how you will deal with different types of crowds.
- Organising the travel can be a real pain. It’s not always as simple as going to the website of your choice and booking a flight. It can take literally hours dealing with “a certain travel company” before you have your flights and hotels sorted. Even for comparatively easy trips. Once you start talking tours it really starts to sap your time and will to live.
- There are a stream of emails before, during and after events for you to deal with. It’s quite surprising how much effort goes into just working through this stuff.
- If you are like me you get the post conference/tour zombie syndrome, where you pretty much have no productivity for a couple of weeks.
It all adds up to be a big drain on your time, which makes me paranoid about how unproductive I am…
Doing this stuff is good fun and I would encourage everyone to try it. It’s great meeting people and seeing how they use technology. It’s a great way to widen your experience, by adding their experience to your own. Just remember it comes at a price, and it might not be so obvious when you’ve not been part of it.
So now I’ve scared you off, give it a go… 🙂