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Going to a Convention? Great! Here's what to pack.

Updated on April 14, 2016
Suitcase4.jpg by Seeman.  Shown, a pair of comfortable looking brown shoes and a casual shirt in a suitcase.
Suitcase4.jpg by Seeman. Shown, a pair of comfortable looking brown shoes and a casual shirt in a suitcase. | Source

The Bare Neccesities

  1. Refillable bottle
  2. Deodorant
  3. Cash
  4. Your ID
  5. Lanyard and badge
  6. Paper and pen
  7. Any vital daily supplies you'd need at home.
  8. Deck of cards
  9. Snack
  10. Backpack or other bag

Don't forget the obvious stuff.

Before we get started, you already know what your daily routine is, so if I fail to mention "clean underwear," you should go ahead and pack it anyway. Your pills, your toothbrush, all that everyday stuff is a given, but you should still be meticulous in picking out what you'll need to survive the con, even the obvious stuff.

Think about how many days you'll be away from home and try to calculate how many outfits you'll need. Even if you're coplaying the whole weekend, you should bring at least one casual look with you in case you decide you want a break from your cosplay.


Getting in the door

The number one thing you need to concern yourself with is how you're going to get in the door. Did you preorder? Are you going to pay at the door? Be sure to bring sufficient evidence of your ticket purchase if you bought your tickets over the internet. Some cons will send you a postcard with a barcode on it for them to scan. Other cons will email you information you're meant to print out. Also remember to pack your ID and additional funding in case you lose your badge and would like to go back in.

You should bring a lanyard to put your badge on, which helps ensure your badge stays visible on your person at all time. Reinforce your badge with tape around the loop portion of your badge to prevent breakage or loss.

The dealer's room at the National Film Society convention, May 1979.
The dealer's room at the National Film Society convention, May 1979. | Source

Here's what you'll need in the dealer's room.

Cash is always handy. Not all dealers can accept credit cards.

Bring a backpack and reusable shopping bags. Some venders will run out of bags in the dealer's room, and you're going to want to have plenty of places to put your swag.

Have a safe place to put your wallet to prevent it from falling out of over sized pockets or an overstuffed backpack.

opera glasses by David Ring, a drawing in ink on paper.
opera glasses by David Ring, a drawing in ink on paper. | Source

What you'll need for panels.

Consider packing opera glasses or mini binoculars in case you are seated far back in an auditorium.

Another essential item to pack is a line game. If you bring a card game like Gloom or Fluxx or even a deck of playing cards, you will frequently find yourself popular in those long lines.

Consider Bringing a Card Game!

A few things you might need on the con floor.

Bring duct tape, paper towels or napkins, and a refillable water bottle. These are the most commonly needed items at con. Duct tape is for fixing cosplay problems on the go. People will inevitably spill things over the weekend, and sometimes paper towels are a hot commodity. The refillable water bottle will prevent you from wasting money on hotel priced bottled water when you're thirsty.

Deodorant is a must. Not only does it prevent you from stinking up the lobby, it can also be used to prevent chaffing inside your costume. Use deodorant liberally.

Moist towelettes and wet wipes will help you out when there are no readily available bathrooms for hand washing. And you will want to wash your hands. You're going to be touching banisters and door knobs that have been touched by hundreds of people, which is a cause of con crud. Take care of this problem by washing your hands intermittently, like before you eat.

You may want to bring paper and a pen with you in case you run into a celebrity that signs for free or perhaps you'll meet someone you want to stay in contact with after the con.

Snacks like granola bars are almost always useful when you're on the go all day.

If you're part of a larger party, make sure you have methods of contacting each other. Your cellphone may not get terrific reception inside the venue, so don't depend on cell phones to coordinate. It helps to keep your cellphone in airplane mode inside the venue if you don't get good reception, that will keep your battery charged longer. In airplane mode, your phone is on, but no one can call in or out. This way you can still check the time or use your scheduling app without your phone wasting energy trying to get signal in a crowded place. You can switch it back over when you've got better reception and check your messages. You can also buy an extended battery so you can get more battery life out of your cell phone. Bring a charger for any electronics you decide to bring with you.

Even if you're cosplaying, pack an extra pair of comfortable shoes. Your feet will thank you for it.

Try to pack lightly, in case you have to walk a long way.

Things I Don't Bring

There are a few things I absolutely never take to a con.

  • Heavy items, like chairs or coolers.
  • Expensive non essential electronics that could be lost, dropped, or stolen.
  • Cumbersome accessories that are so large they could block the path or trip people.
  • Irreplaceable jewelry or other heirlooms.
  • Items I've been asked to have signed as a favor for somebody else. I don't have time for that!

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