Just got back from Anime Expo and San Diego Comic-Con and I just wanted to share some of the essential things I brought along and carried with me in my backpack. This isn’t an extensive convention packing list by any means but just the important things you’d need to get by each day.
Most booths at conventions take credit/debit cards via apps like Square or Paypal but for the ones that may not such as Small Press or Artist Alley, you definitely want to have cash on hand! Some vendors charge tax or an extra fee for credit card transactions so even more reason to have cash on hand! Remember to withdraw cash BEFORE you head to the convention center to avoid outrageous ATM fees!
Probably the most important thing here. Staying hydrated is incredibly important and with conventions, even more so. You might be so busy throughout the day that you’ll forget about drinking water. I like carrying this Brita Water Filter Bottle so I can just fill it up at the drinking fountain and not have to worry about finding clean water.
This can also count as the most important thing on the list for many. Power outlets aren’t readily available and unless you have a hotel room which you can easily get to, you’re most likely going to run out of power if you’re using your phone to take pictures, check prices online, or communicate with the rest of your party. Don’t bring those “lipstick” sized chargers as they won’t have enough juice in them to last the day. I’d definitely recommend something with a 10,000 mAh capacity or more like this one from Anker with a 20,000 mAh capacity which will definitely last you all day!
You meet a lot of people at conventions and one of the best ways to give your information is still a business card. Plus, if a booth has a bowl or something similar to drop in for a contest you can always enter!
If you’re out all day waiting in line, you gotta make sure to use sunscreen. ‘Nuff said. I end up using the Neutrogena brand sunscreen since I feel that’s better to put on my face than others and doesn’t end up feeling greasy.
Con Flu, PAX Pox, whatever you want to name it, conventions have a lot of people and you’re definitely more likely to come in contact with someone else’s germs. You’ll probably be picking up merchandise, playing games, and shaking hands, which all probably have been touched by others who haven’t had the foresight to be as prepared as you. Use it before eating some snacks, after you sneeze, or anytime you feel you want to keep your hands clean. I’ve been using the Honest Spray hand sanitizer for a while (and the bottle has lasted forever!) but the gels work like the typical Purell brand ones just as well!
For autographs, of course. You never know when you might meet someone famous or just might need something more than a pen. I met the voice actor for a character I was cosplaying as and I wanted him to sign my hat… but I didn’t have a sharpie! He used a pen instead and it did work but definitely not to the effect and visibility of a permanent marker. Like most, I prefer a sharpie. The ‘ol classic black fine point. If you know you’ll be getting autographs on darker posters or prints, then definitely go for the silver color as well!
Most phones have pretty awesome cameras and they’re just as or even more convenient than pulling out a DSLR or even a point and shoot. Buttttt, for those moments where you want to take some shots of figures on the show floor or get some great cosplay photos, using an actual camera wouldn’t hurt. I’ve been using my sister’s mirrorless camera, a Sony a5000 for recent trips, and I’ve gotten some great photos and really love how much more compact it is compared to a normal DSLR.
I’ve been into using my GoPro more during shows as well! It’s fun to look at some of the stuff you missed during the day while it’s recording!
Use it to blow your nose, impromptu napkin, clean whatever. I usually have it just in case of really anything. I prefer taking the Kleenex travel packs around as they’re small and the 3-ply is perfect for every situation.
You have to eat during a convention and for those times when you’re hungry in line there is no other snack that’s better than a Clif Bar. They come out to about $1 a bar and they’re tasty, they give you a decent amount of energy, and they’re not that bad for you. I’ve known some reporter friends whose convention diet consisted of Clif Bars and 5-hour energy shots (I’ve done it as well!) so a bar or two can definitely hold you over until dinner or whenever you’re done with that line and panel! Some healthier alternatives (but a bit more expensive) option that I like as well are Nii Bars or Lara Bars!
That’s pretty much it for now. If you have any other suggestions, drop me a line and I’ll add them in! Next up is a convention cosplay essentials checklist!