10 things our trainers need on the road
As trainers we are often travelling for off-site training, conferences or exhibitions. Travelling can sometimes be tiring, but these are 10 things that we swear by for keeping up our enthusiasm while on the road.
We often travel to new institutions and countries that we haven’t been to before, so knowing where we are going, how to get there and where we are staying is key. This is where we all rely on our travel packs - an invaluable set of information gathered together by our Events organisers to ensure we can focus on training and don’t need to worry when they get off a long-haul flight, or wake up early and haven’t had their coffee! Find out more about our Events organisers on our previous top 10: things that make our training programme unique.
As frequent travellers, we have accumulated habits and rituals that we enjoy when travelling. These help to keep us grounded, enabling us to focus on the job in hand. They vary greatly, but many of us have them: from keeping a map of every airport we travel through, to crocheting items whilst flying, always packing gym kit, or the constant companionship of a penguin...
If you’ve left your laptop behind, lost your charger, or your internet / power suddenly goes down, what do you do? Here’s where it’s important to be prepared. Having access to backup slides on USB, exercises with lots of screenshots and other materials that are less tech-demanding not only provides peace of mind, but ensures a smooth training course delivery, no matter what calamity unfolds.
Travelling and training can mean lots of time spent on your feet, so a pair of comfortable shoes is a must! Our trainers have very different views on what is comfortable (see photo). It’s important to have appropriate clothing too; always double-check the weather forecast before travelling and prepare for all air con eventualities!
Delivering a talk, walking around a training room, staying up late chatting (about bioinformatics of course), catching overnight flights and being in strange places takes can zap your energy. But luckily there are plenty of ways that we keep ourselves in the best possible training mode. Bottles of water keep us hydrated; whilst chocolate, nuts, cake and coffee make sure we are awake and full of energy to train.
Laptops - and 101 adaptors
It’s no surprise that we need laptops to deliver our training, but of course we must also remember to bring them with us. We know of at least one trainer who has left home without a laptop (and the only copy of her slides...) It’s not just the laptop, it’s also the myriad of adaptors we need along with chargers, USB drives, laser pointers... and a nifty way to keep them organised.
Long-haul and multi-trip travelling can be exhausting in itself; adding training into the mix can amplify the tiredness. Good travel planning to reduce jet lag, a comfortable bed, and knowledge that everything is planned, backed-up and prepared all help us to avoid sleep deprivation. A good night's sleep = an effective trainer!
While computer-based training is our bread and butter, we also like using lower-tech approaches. We frequently have those ever-useful Post-It notes, sticky whiteboard paper*, and flashcards within arm’s reach to get our trainees out of their seats and talking to each other about what they have learnt.
* These also make fantastic Christmas snowflakes.
Enjoying the local area
Being able to relax and recharge after a day of training is something we all look forward to, even more so in new surroundings. We are lucky to have fantastic workshop hosts who are frequently keen to ensure that we learn something about their scientific facilities and research interests, the surrounding area and their regional cuisine. Whether sampling the local beer or trying out Tango lessons we love to find out more about the place we are visiting; this enriches the experience for trainers and trainees alike.
Even though off-site workshops are intensive, we love what we do and always have a smile on our faces at the end of the day. We hope to make our trainees and hosts equally satisfied that we’ve met or exceeded their expectations. The feedback that we receive from our trainees and hosts is certainly consistent with this hope.