Every Labor Day weekend since 2010, my hubby and I have gone to Atlanta, GA, for DragonCon! It was the first convention I ever went to, which still amazes many people. But, it took me a while to figure out what to take, what to leave home, and how to effectively enjoy the con. Some of that came from blog posts like this: people who have been going that share their wisdom and knowledge. Here’s my packing plan for this year:
Registration Postcard. This is the most important thing to bring! It is why registration moves so quickly now. You don’t want to be the person holding up the line!
My phone. Phones have become an essential tool for DragonCon. They have an app with the schedule, maps, and tons of info on it. Also, thanks to Digital Photo Mentor, I’m going to use it instead of packing my DSLR to take pictures this year. But, because there are, most likely, 80,000+ other people there with their phones, it won’t be used much to communicate. At least quickly.
Con wallet. Since early on, my hubby takes only what he needs and leaves the rest at home in his wallet. At first, I just took what I didn’t need out of my wallet, but for a few years now I’ve had what I call my con wallet. I bought a geeky wallet from Think Geek that I simply put what I need into for conventions. It’s bright and easier to spot in case I somehow drop it (which hasn’t happened yet, fingers crossed!). I like it because it makes it easier to find what you need, and, should you need medical assistance, it is less for a good Samaritan to go through to find your driver’s licence and insurance info.
Bag of Holding – Con Survival Edition. After the success of the original Bag of Holding, Think Geek came out with a smaller bag for use at conventions. It holds a lot, has space for pins and a Velcro front for patches, and is small. Small is important when there are so many others around. In it, I tend to have:
– Mini First Aid Kit
– Pads and liners (This is more for the ladies out there, but pads can be a useful addition to a first aid kit. They are built to absorb a lot. Also, you never know when someone might need one.
– Rain gear (Either a pocket umbrella or poncho will save you if it rains)
– Stuff to do (I keep my Kindle on me as well as a deck of cards and an iPod)
– Portable chargers
– Cords and wall adapter
– Business cards
Clothing. Whether or not you cosplay or wear costumes, you always want to pack clothes. I tend to follow the +2 rule. I pack at least 2 more of what I know I will be wearing on a daily basis. Socks and underwear always get this. When I’m not taking costumes, I take an extra 2 t-shirts for options as well as back-up. You never know what could happen over the course of a day to cause you to need to change something. Bras, bottoms, and shoes tend to be the exception to this. I’ll take 2 bras, maybe an extra pair of jeans, and a pair of sneakers and flip flops. Of course, if you’re costuming or cosplaying, you need to have everything for your costumes – including socks! I also tend to take enough t-shirts to cover the con and a pair of jeans. You never know when you might need civvies!
Bathroom. Don’t forget all the stuff you need in the bathroom. You may want to get as many travel sized items as possible and/or repack things in smaller containers, depending on how many of you are sharing the bathroom. Another thing is, again depending on how many of you are in the room, bringing your own distinctive towel and washcloth. Most of the time there’s just four of us in the room, so we don’t pack extra towels. But we have in the past and it really helps with knowing whose towel or washcloth is whose.
Food. This varies from person to person. Some people bring Crock Pots and rice cookers and go grocery shopping after unloading the car into the room. Others just eat from the food court, food trucks, and restaurants. I fall in the middle. I try to take portable snacks that can combine to sustain me through the day so I can buy dinner at the end. I tend to pack things like jerky, Larabars, and something sweet like fig bars. I like it because I can just graze through the day and not have to worry about getting to the food court between panels.
There’s also packing food for in the room. We like to have snack foods to munch on while we drink in the evenings because we tend to stay in the room to watch the Friday Night Costuming Contest and the Masquerade. But I am also a big tea drinker and I have two electric kettles: one for home and one for the office. Since I currently don’t have an office, I’m taking the extra kettle, along with some teas and the other stuff to make myself a mug or three every night.
In the room. Remember, you are going to be spending some time in your room. Even if it’s just to sleep. There are things you can pack that will make that time easier. We bring at least one power strip, extra trash bags, games, and a streaming stick. The power strip(s) make it easier to recharge devices at the end of the day. Trash can pile up quickly, so being able to contain it outside of those little trashcans is really helpful. And, while we do stay in host hotels and have DCTV, it doesn’t mean they’ve always got something we want to watch on. It’s easier to have access to our Nexflix, Hulu, Amazon, and CBS All-Access than flip through channels. And, it’s DragonCon, of course we are going to bring games to play with our friends!
I think that covers packing. I’ll be posting again with at the con tips soon.