How to survive a convention

TastyWhale July 20, 2014 0

So you are going on an adventure (strikethrough) to a convention!

What do you need to survive? You think you just need some cash and fandom? YOU ARE WRONG! There are so many things you need that you don’t know and haven’t even thought of. I’ve attended many a con, and have developed a list of hardware I need to bring with me on my forays into these excursions of geekdom. I’ll list these below but first a few quick tips.

Things you need to consider if flying: don’t fill your carryon on the flight there. Leave space for mementos or other items you pick up. Many conventions have some awesome exclusive stuff that you might want to buy. But why pay another $50-100 for checked luggage on the way back? Just leave space for whatever you might purchase.

It is going to be hot. Even if the convention is held in a large and well designed location, no matter the number of A/C units the interior will be heated by the thousands of bodies packed in there. I suggest wearing summer equivalent clothing that allows you to breath. Good walking shoes that you’ve broken in. Do not wear open toed sandals, someone will step on your feet in the mass confusion.

Expect to wait, don’t expect to see everything. You can have studied the floor maps and made a timeline of scheduled events, but the reality is that you will likely have to line up 15 minutes to an hour in order to see small side events. Simple demos may have a waittime of an hour. Main events may have lines that go over night (for San Diego Comic Con this is pretty much anything in Hall H). I try to attend what ever is in the room beforehand, assuming they let people stay and don’t empty between each seminar/event.

Things to bring. Besides the proper clothing, you’ll need to cut down on what you think you want to carry with you. Because you are going to be lugging this around with you all day, pack like you were going hiking: minimally.
a camelback filled with ice cold water (or a normal backpack with a water bottle or two (save one so you can refill at a waterfountain)
sunglasses and sunscreen (even if it is indoors, lines often stretch outside)
aspirin (for aches and pains, and a caffeine boost)
bandages and antibiotic ointment (you are going to find contact points in your shoes and will likely grow some blisters depending on how much you are walking around)
moist towelette (both for cooling down and using in the bathroom if the TP is missing)
some gum/mints (you’ll eat something tasty, and then not think about how your breath smells like onions when you are about to meet your favorite author/scientist/actor/whatever)
small stick of deodorant/anti-perspirant
USB/AC adapter for your phone (sometimes you can find a free USB hub, sometimes a wall outlet)
portable battery w/USB cable (I have a 10000 and a 3200 mAH version I charge alternatively)
Pen! I use a silver sharpie. Quick drying and great in case you need something signed (hey, cons are full of famous people)
A camera. I know that seems like an obvious thing, but trying to whip out your phone and get a blurry action shot is a bad option. also note that I said the singular “an”. too much crap will weigh you down
Something to play games/pass time on. Usually your phone is enough, but carrier reception may suck, and the wifi could be spotty. I bring a 3DS or PSVita. Streetpass will fill up instantly if you are into that 🙂
Snacks. something that is in it’s own sealed wrap. I like energy bars, pop-tarts, and jerky. Anything wet could cause a mess!

Hopefully you can use this as a starting checklist for your convention adventures!

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