I love going to conventions, as evidenced by the 100+ I have attended so far in my life. Over the years I have refined my convention everyday carry to allow me the most utility with the least weight and bulk. So I’ve listed the basics of my convention carry list below. Depending on what type of con I’m attending, other items will be added to this, obviously; I have my GMing supplies if I’m running games, for instance. But this list forms the core and helps me stay healthy and happy when I’m wandering the convention floor.
The Bag – whatever type of bag you are comfortable using is fine. I prefer an actual daypack or satchel-style shoulder bag, but courier bags are popular choices, too. Whatever you choose, make sure you are comfortable carrying it wherever you go. And be mindful of your bag’s size. Don’t be That Geek with the enormous over-sized bag blocking the aisle
Notebook – you’ll use this for a variety of things; notes during panels or games, jotting down addresses or instructions, room numbers, names…anything you want to remember later. Nowadays a smartphone can do many of these tasks, but I still carry a notebook. Also works as a default autograph book, but you should also carry…
Small Sketchbook – The 4x6ish size is perfect for autographs, or go for the 5x8ish size if you plan to get sketches from your fav artists, too. Once it is full, it makes a great addition to your geek shelf. Then you just grab another and start over.
Pens/pencils – don’t go overboard, but bring a variety so you aren’t hampered by running out of ink/lead at a bad time. I recommend that at least one be a Sharpie of some kind, and you include a pen that will show up on black.
Lip Balm – because it will be dry, and you will be talking.
Hand Sanitizer – You are going to touch things that hundreds of strangers have touched, possibly you will touch the strangers themselves. Keep your hands clean, for your sake and theirs.
Moisturizer – Because that hand sanitizer will dry out your hands over time. A small tube will do you, perfume free.
Deodorant – Ideally perfume free, but try to at least get one that isn’t too powerful in scent, but still does the job. You should be using it in the morning, but convention halls can be hot, sweaty, place, so having it for touch-ups is a good idea. Plus it just feels nice not to stink.
Water Bottle – For any con-goer, a refillable stainless steel water bottle is a great investment. You need to keep hydrated, and it is better to carry your water with you and fill it periodically than it is to risk drinking from fountains. Avoid glass water bottles, as you will likely drop the bottle at least once during the con. Broken glass is no one’s friend.
Snacks – Carry some healthy snacks with you, for those times you just can’t get a meal or need a quick pick-me-up. I recommend pieces of fruit (apples, bananas), nuts (but not peanuts in case people have allergies), jerky (make sure to drink your water) and protein bars. Your body will thank you for the healthy stuff by giving you more energy throughout the day.
A Game – Whether you are at a gaming con or not, it is a good idea to bring along a small, easy to play game that can wrap up in about 10-20 minutes. If you are spending time in a line, why not make it fun for the people around you by playing a game with them? Panel is starting late; same thing. A quick game can make the usual dreary moments fun, and since that is why you are there…
Camera – You can likely get away with the one on your cell phone. But if you want slightly nicer photos to remember your con time, bring along a small digital camera. And of course, an extra memory card and recharge cord.
Anything else you think should be on this list? Throw your ideas in the comments on our Facebook Page.