Con season is officially ramping up. While there are LOADS of different conventions you can go to this summer–and all year round, really–there are a few important things that you always need to bring to make sure you’re ready to have an awesome time at your con.
The truth is conventions are a bit nuts. Sometimes they’re packed with people, lines can be long, the reception in the events center or hotel can be crappy, and the food can be expensive. It’s important to make sure you’re ready for a convention environment from the start, which will ensure all of your energy can be spent enjoying the event. To help you get ready for whatever adventures are ahead, I’ve compiled a bit of a convention essentials starter pack. Get ready to make a checklist, kids:
I’m gonna sound like my mom here, but y’all need to drink more water. Seriously though, bringing water to a convention is incredibly important. While you might be able to track down a water fountain, it isn’t guaranteed to work, and you aren’t guaranteed to not catch mono from the litany of people who grabbed a drink before you. Just sayin’
While you can usually find a reasonably priced lunch spot around the convention hall, you’ll likely get peckish if you’re spending an entire day at a con. If you’re not up for paying the high snack prices at the con, pack yourself a quiet, non-greasy, non-smelly snack (seriously, don’t be the guy who packs a tuna sandwich for a snack) that you can eat throughout the con.
You never know who you’ll meet on the con floor. While you won’t need to provide a pen if you’re paying for an autograph, you want to be ready should you come across one of your faves as you’re exploring the hall. Just be sure to be polite when asking for autographs in the wild.
Seriously. If you plan on using your mobile device at any point, bring your charger. If you have a charger that doesn’t need to be plugged into a wall, even better–because everyone and their mom will be hunting for and using any wall plugs available. But even a traditional wall-plug charger will work great. You’ll be surprised how much juice you use spending a day at a con, trying to live-tweet, meet up with your friends, and snap pics.
With so many humans mushed into the same spot, the accidental exchange of germs is almost inevitable. It’s not uncommon to catch “con crud” after the convention wraps. Try to avoid getting sick by packing some hand sanitizer. And wash your hands. Please.
This requires a bit of foresight, but if you’re planning or open to the idea of buying swag at the con, make sure you’ve got a way to carry it around and keep it safe. Whether you’re bringing something as low-key as a bag to keep swag, a tube for a poster, a box for a collectible, or going all in with some wearable storage like the Nerdist Ultimate Convention Hoodie, make sure you have the means to keep whatever you buy with you safe and sound.
A Meeting Spot
Larger conventions can be a bit crazy–in a good way, of course. However, that craziness can mean it’s occasionally tough to get in touch with your friends should you get separated. A phone dies, you can’t hear your phone, poor service, or a litany of other issues could stop you from getting in touch with your buddies. To prevent you having to roam around the con yelling, “I NEED AN ADULT!” designate a spot with you and your group to meet up should you get separated.
A Schedule–with a Plan B
Plan what panels you’d like to attend ahead of time, and make sure you bring your schedule to the convention. Of course, it’s always possible that life will interrupt your plans, so be sure you have a plan B just in case you miss your first choice.
Having cash on hand is incredibly important. Most vendors at conventions accept a card, but technology is prone to break and nothing is worse than having to pay service fees at an ATM. Plus, if you go into the con with a set amount of cash, it can really help you stick to a budget and not overspend. You may think you’re strong-willed, but it is SO EASY to overspend at the amazing stuff you can buy at a convention.
Emergency Mending Kit and Band-aids
The mending kit mostly pertains to cosplayers. It’s almost inevitable that something on your costume will need a little help. Having a mending kit will help you address any tears while they’re still small. Band-aids are also incredibly helpful for cosplayers or any con-goer in the fight against blisters. It’s so easy for a day of walking to result in several painful blisters, and having a band-aid on hand can stop the situation before it gets rough.
Bonus – Sunscreen
This is especially important if you’re attending a convention like San Diego Comic Con where there are lots of activities to participate in direct sunlight. Nothing ruins a convention faster than accidentally turning yourself into a lobster.
Ultimately, have fun this convention season, but be prepared! What are your con essentials? Let me know in the comments!
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