As Dave mentioned in other posts, he and I will be traveling to Gen Con in just a few weeks. I love going to conventions, and despite its size I have a definite soft spot for Gen Con. I’ve been going to conventions for decades now, and over time I’ve come up with and modified my “daily carry” for conventions, the items I can’t get by without while I’m roaming a con. Below is my list for my con kit. I’ve left off any of the items I pack for games I’m running, as that is a separate list of material, and I may not always have it with me at a convention.
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. Currently I’m using an older model Bag of Holding from Thinkgeek, because of its space and durability. 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 Guy with the enormous over-sized bag blocking the aisle.
Notebook – You will 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. Also hworks as a default autograph book, but you should also carry…
Small Sketchbook – The 4×6 size is perfect for autographs, or go for the 5×8 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 a black background. If you have room, two different colours of dry-erase marker can come in surprisingly useful.
Lip Balm – Because it will be dry, and you will be talking.
Throat Lozenge – Since you will be talking, and often trying to talk over the crowd, your throat may get a bit scratchy. Hydration is key, but these are great for some quick relief.
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 hand sanitizer will dry out your hands over time. A small tube will do you, perfume free.
Deodorant – Try to get that is low-scent or scent-free. This shouldn’t replace the shower you are hopefully taking daily, but it is a great top-up.
Water Bottle – For any con-goer, a refillable stainless steel or plastic 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, and 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 through 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 section below.