14 Essential Items to Bring to Every Fan Convention
|Shannon Cottrell (from Anime Expo 2010)|
|Bring some real food to the convention.|
If there's one truth about conventions, it's that the food inside the convention center or hotel will be expensive. I usually carry a small bottle of my preferred soft drink in my bag. Smarter people also carry food, the most popular item being the almighty protein bar.
"I have to always carry a protein bar at a con because I'm so distracted by the awesome, I forget to eat," says actor Yuri Lowenthal. "But I need energy to experience the awesome!"
If you're staying at a convention, bring some goodies with you. Find out beforehand if your room has a fridge and shop accordingly. A few people also mentioned bringing your own alcohol, which can help save money that you would otherwise blow at the bar.
10. Anti-stench tools
It might come as a shock to some people that more than one person mentioned deodorant as a convention essential. Shouldn't that be a given? However, if you've ever been inside a packed exhibit hall on the last day of the convention, then you know the smell can be pungent. This isn't something that's exclusive to the geek scene -- in fact, music festivals and summer subway rides can be worse. It's hot and you're sharing a space that's overflowing with people. It's going to smell funky.
But conventions pose a special issue. As writer Steve Marmel said on Twitter, "Remember that the dude in the Obi Wan costume on Day 4 hasn't washed it since day 1."
Maybe Febreze can help. I'm not a cosplayer, so I can't say for certain. Anyone have advice?
While we're on the subject of odor control, don't forget the breath mints or gum. Tod Nagel has gone to conventions as a fan and a vendor and says that breath mints are crucial. "While working a booth, your mouth gets dry and not so fresh, especially after eating what they call food from the commissary at some conventions," he says.
If you're a cosplayer, there's one item that will certainly be in your suitcase. "A sewing kit is No. 1 for me," says Ginger Burton of GNB Cosplay and Chocolate Covered Cosplay. "I haven't had many wardrobe malfunctions where I've had to use it, but just in case something goes wrong, at least I know I have a needle and thread to make a quick touch-up if needed!"
Even if you aren't going to the convention in costume, it might be a good idea to stick a small sewing kit in your luggage. When you're dealing with crowds and surrounding large objects, there's always a chance that you might rip something and need a quick fix. Make like a Girl Scout and be prepared.
8. Cellphone and charging devices
Never head to a convention without your phone. Whether you're going for work or just for fun, you will need it. Many of the people who responded to this question have a preference for smartphones. Photographer Ejen Chuang, who documented the national convention scene in his book Cosplay in America, needs his phone to update the audience at home. "I tweet, Facebook cosplay photos every hour (roughly) live from the con," he says.
But cellphone batteries die quickly when you're updating from the convention hall. Some people suggest bringing back-up batteries. At the very least, have your charger on hand. Publicist Melanie Marquez says she's always on the lookout for outlets inside the convention centers. "Constant calls, emails, tweets, photos, etc., drain my battery life like nobody's business!"
On a somewhat related note, if you're bringing a laptop, try to get a wireless Internet card. Even if the convention center has free wi-fi (which is rare), it's going to be clogged. And if you're presenting on a panel, take the advice of Brad Bell, co-creator of the webseries Husbands, and bring your own gear to hook up your laptop to the screen. It's always good to have backup equipment on hand.