Yesterday (Wednesday) began the fun of Origins Game Fair 2016, and we will be posting the rest of this week on the convention!
To kick us off, as the family and I prepared to embark on our 5-day gaming adventure, I thought it would be nice to let you in on what we like to carry with us. (It might be a bit voyeuristic, but I’ve always been fond of those magazine articles that let readers take a peak inside others’ bags; so here I am letting you all take a peak inside mine! 🙂 )
Whether you are a veteran con goer, or a newbie, everyone has ideas about what they like to keep on hand. (And if you are a true newbie, hopefully there will be some tips here you can use to help with your own preparations!)
A lot of the packing for a con involves a balancing act between what to have on hand to keep yourself comfortable and happy and what to leave at home to keep yourself, well, comfortable and happy. Keep in mind that whatever you decide to bring, you will have to lug around the convention all day. However, you do also want to make sure that you have what you need to really enjoy yourself at the con.
So, with that in mind, here is what I always bring:
1. A Backpack. Okay, this one is less “what to pack” then it is what you’re packing it all into, but what you choose to carry everything in is every bit as important as what you pack in it. Trust me on this one. It really can mean the difference between a day of misery and discomfort and one of relative ease. I am a firm believer in carrying a backpack over anything involving one shoulder carrying, whether that be a messenger bag, a cross shoulder bag, a tote bag, a large purse, etc. In my own personal experience, being able to distribute the weight of your stuff over two shoulders, while maybe not cute, is well worth the lack of “chic” factor.
2. Program Guide(s). You will most likely pick these up on site your first day of the con, but once you have them, I recommend keeping them with you for the duration of the convention. Your program guide(s) will contain all kinds of useful things – not only schedules of games, panels, exhibits, etc., but also handy maps, dining guides, and oftentimes coupons.
3. A Sweater/Hoodie/Shawl/etc. In my experience with convention centers, you are likely to encounter all kinds of “weather.” Everything from convention floors so hot that you’ll be dripping to air conditioned rooms so cold you’ll be shivering, and all at the same venue. My recommendation is to dress in layers, whatever the time of year. Right now, we are attending a gaming convention in summer, so I’m leaving home in a t-shirt, but packing a light sweater in my bag for those cold, over-air conditioned rooms. I prefer my light sweater to any of my hoodies simply because it takes up less space than a thicker sweatshirt. But feel free to pack whatever your preference is for an extra layer.
4. A Small “First-Aid” Kit. This is the kit I always keep in my purse, so it was no big deal to take it out of my purse and throw it in my backpack. I don’t recommend you go overboard with this, but I would suggest keeping on hand those things you might need to keep yourself and your family comfortable. For example, I suffer from regular migraines, so I always carry a combination of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. That combo does a good job of knocking out my headaches, which could easily ruin a con for me. I also carry Pepto, because it covers any number of stomach ailments, and I always have on hand some Lactaid capsules for my lactose intolerant husband who likes to enjoy the occasional cheeseburger or milkshake. Lastly, I keep in there a few BandAids – one never knows when those might come in handy.
5. Water. Keeping yourself well-hydrated is a must, and buying on-site can often be VERY expensive. Personally, I always carry disposable water bottles, which I realize is not environmentally friendly, but I like being able to unload them as I drink them. (It allows me to make room for all the stuff I might buy, which also needs to fit into the backpack.)
6. A notebook and pens. I’m a panel-goer. I usually spend most of my time at conventions going to various panels, and especially at Origins, there are all kinds of panels one can attend to learn lots of stuff – everything from how to write a novel, to how design and publish games, how to make costumes for cosplay, how to incorporate comics and games into the classroom (for teachers), to learning about the history of war. Hence, I always carry a notebook so I can take notes. However, even if you’re not planning on doing such things, a pen and paper are always handy. 🙂
7. A cellphone. I’m sure this one is obvious, and that no one really goes anywhere without a phone these days, but you definitely want to make sure you can get in touch with your family (or friends – whoever you might be attending with), especially if you all decide to go your separate ways during the convention or there is an unexpected emergency.
8. A Backup Phone Charger. You definitely do not want to deal with a dead cell phone battery. Especially, if there is an emergency or you get separated from your family or friends. I actually had this happen to me once – my phone battery died during a con, and I was unable to get in touch with the friend I was attending with. We had separated to go off to do our own things, and then my phone gave out. We were at NYCC, which is a HUGE convention – no understatement there. Imagine trying to locate a friend when you have no idea where she might be, and there is an ocean of literally tens of thousands of people in which to search. Needless to say, I have never again attended a con without making sure my phone is charged AND having a backup power supply.
9. Snacks. Snacks are handy to have for two reasons. One: Food at cons can be VERY expensive. It’s that whole captive audience thing. And, two: sometimes you might have yourself so booked, it can actually be difficult to escape to the food court for a bite to eat.
10. Personal Care Items. Whatever you need in the beauty/personal care department to keep yourself comfortable. I have hair ties, pressed powder, and lip balm. My husband often carries hand lotion, and you might want to add hand sanitizer or hand wipes to your own list. (I keep mine in the First Aid Kit.)
11. Your wallet. Maybe kind of a “duh,” to put on the list, but there are a couple things to keep in mind. One: You might not want to carry your entire wallet (as I have mine pictured), but maybe just cash, your ID, and one credit card. Two: Be sure to keep in mind a budget when it comes to what you’ll spend and how much cash you want to keep on hand. Meals can easily average $15-20 per person, even if you’re buying fast food/food court food. So make sure to factor that in, as well as what you might need for cabs and shopping when considering your budget.
Addendum: What to Add with a Little One in Tow
This year my husband and I are attending Origins with our 1-year-old son, so we are experiencing first-hand what it’s like to attend a con with a kiddo. More on that later . . .
Here’s what I’ve added to the bag for Parker. (Note: If your child is old enough to walk on their own, I’d recommend having them sport their own backpack. 🙂 )
1. A cooler bag. If you’ll be toting formula or milk or the sort, a place to keep it cool will be necessary. We bought this one for Parker because it, of course!, has Spider-Man on it, and it’s big enough to carry at least two bottles/sippy cups. (Note: If you’re little one is breastfeeding, you’ll be happy to know that Origins is a very family friendly con, and has a special room just for that purpose.)
2. Snacks. In addition to snacks for yourself, you’ll also want to have age-appropriate snacks for your little one. I have yogurt bites and Goldfish for Parker.
3. A Spare Change of Clothes. Always in my bag wherever I go with the little one, because accidents will happen.
4. Wipes. Naturally for cleaning bottoms as well as dropped pacifiers or toys. And also handy to keep around for wiping one’s own fingers.
5. A Sippy Cup with Bottle Strap. I like to always have water for Parker as well as myself. And I really love these straps that will secure the bottle or sippy cup to stroller/highchair, etc. as Parker is currently going through his “throw it on the floor to see if Mommy will pick it up” phase. I’m especially in love with these superhero ones we discovered.
6. A toy. To keep Parker occupied when he starts getting antsy sitting in the stroller. However, we did discover today that he’s perfectly happy to play with his con badge, a plastic cup, or a straw, so, hey – one less thing to carry!
7. Diapering supplies. Another one that I’m sure goes without saying, but if the little one is still in diapers, make sure there’s some room left in your bag for diapers, wipes, and a changing pad (not pictured).
Okay, so that’s what’s in my bag! Stay tuned tomorrow for tips on attending a con with a little one!
Anything you would add to this list? (Or subtract?) Let us know by replying in the comments below. (Please review our Comment Policy before posting. Thanks!)
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