WHAT UP INTERNET?!
Considering July 2016 is home to both RTX and SDCC, now seems as good a time as ever to revisit the #ConLife essentials post from last year. Summer is prime ConLife season and I want to ensure you Bros have all the gear you need in order to maximize your utility when attending a specific Con. In order to keep what you’re carting around a Con to a minimum, I’m going to break this packing list into two sections: essentials and stuff that may just make your life easier. I realize not everyone likes to walk around an exhibit hall floor lugging around half their stuff (as I’m guilty of doing), so if you’re a ConLife n00b and want to know what you absolutely, positively should carry with you at your first Con, feel free to scope only the first half of this post.
That being said, what one Bro may view as essential another may view as merely “nice to have” so your mileage may vary depending upon your specific needs. I’ve tried to compose a list which strikes a fine-balance between being “prepped” and being ready for the ConLife equivalent of the apocalypse (aka camping out overnight during SDCC). Whether you’re a n00b or a ConLife Connoisseur as your Bro is, I’d recommend checking out the packing list below!
Drawstring bags are this generations fanny packs-which is a great thing. Why you may ask?! Because they help you carry your swag and they go on your back which pretty much everyone can agree is wayyyyy better than having stuff around your waist. Plus, fanny packs really can’t pack a whole lot into them. Pretty much any big Con you go to will have at least one (probably more) exhibitor giving these away, and they’re great if you’re in a pinch. I always take a backpack whenever I go to a Con, but if you don’t anticipate picking up too much swag, you could do a lot worse than a drawstring bag. But YOU DO NEED A BAG-and the rest of the list will indicate why!
Does this even need explaining?! Probably not, but I’m all about exercises in futility! Between shoddy reception inside convention centers, the need to post/check/update multiple social media platforms, contact your Bros and more than likely snap some photos, you’re going to be putting your phone through the paces while living the ConLife. I always prefer to be over-prepared so I carry around one which can charge my phone multiple times, but you could always go with a super thin charger which can fit in your pocket. I don’t believe the old adage having “too much of a good thing” applies when it comes to juice for your smartphone.
Maybe you’re trying to make some healthy gains. Maybe you’re trying to budget extra funds for exclusives and other swag. Maybe you’re a picky eater-the point is, it’s easy to pack a couple protein bars/cookies/whatever it is you enjoy snacking on to hold you over in between meals. Not to mention if you’re doing it right, you’re going to be splitting your time before prowling the floor and attending panels-you don’t want to waste time and money (and typically a decent amount of both) waiting to grab a bite to eat, do you? If at all possible, have your full meals before the floor opens and after it closes for the day. If you have time to grab a bite during the Con, great-but bear in mind most convention centers sell less-than-stellar eats for crazy prices.
- 3DS/Some other time occupier
I make it a point to camp out for at least one big panel at any Con I attend. Since this typically entails standing/sitting outside of a room for a couple hours, it’s easy to grow bored rather quickly. As I don’t want to drain my phone and pound my paltry cellphone data plan into submission, I always take my 3DS with me when I’m attending a Con. It’s fun and time flies when you’re having fun-it wouldn’t be a saying if it wasn’t true! If you’re not a gamer (or simply don’t have a console) good ol’ fashioned magazines/playing cards are tried and true options. Bonus: since you’re at a Con, you can pretty much always find someone to play with/talk to!
- Comfortable shoes
If you’re doing the ConLife correctly, you’re going to be doing tons of walking. Between attending panels, visiting exhibitor booths and the multitude of other things which go down, you’re going to be covering a lot of ground. If you’re like me and always prefer to leave the convention center/exhibit hall for a real meal, that means even more walking. The last thing you ever want to worry about while walking/powerwalking/sitting/waiting is your feet/legs/back bugging you. Be sure to wear your most comfortable pair of shoes whenever attending a Con!
Bonus stuff (which I almost always pack)
- Sanitary wipes/Sanitizer
One of my favorite things about attending Cons is getting hands on time with titles which haven’t been released yet. One of the things I positively abhor? When people touch something I’ve touched-oh, the conundrums a ConLife Connoisseur must cope with! The way I get around this? By wiping down every single piece of gaming equipment I use before touching it. It only takes a couple seconds tops and it provides me with piece of mind and lowers the probability of a Bro getting sick. Not to mention-those convention center bathrooms tend to run out of paper towels all the time. For me these are absolute essential items to have in my bag.
The very first lesson I learned when hitting the SDCC floor on Preview Night 2014? ALWAYS CARRY CASH. I tend to always have some on me-for tips, etc.-but at Cons, some exhibitors only take cash. While it may seem a bit archaic in the fast and modern times of 2016, if you want to get your hands on their exclusives you’ve got to abide by their rules. Between vendors, potential eats and random events (such as Smiles for Smiles at Nerd HQ) it’s always a good idea to have cash on you when attending a con. Plus if for some reason your card doesn’t work, you don’t want to be stranded!
- Noise cancelling earbuds (with mic!)
Earbuds serve multiple purposes when I’m at a con: they allow me to block out some of the noise from the show floor, allow me to hear the sweet, sweet sounds of whatever game I’m playing on my 3DS while I’m line and they serve as a sign to all attendees which reads: HEY DON’T TALK TO ME. While I’m always game to chat Bros up at a Con, sometimes you need a few precious moments to gather your thoughts when you’re running roughshod over an exhibition hall floor. Bonus: they take up hardly any space in your bag, but serve multiple functions. They’re like an audio-centric Swiss Army Knife!
I don’t go anywhere without sunglasses-that’s more of a personal preference. Despite all of these conventions taking place indoors, I find myself spending a significant amount of time immersed in the great outdoors when living the illustrious ConLife. Whether I’m enjoying offsite events or merely huffing to grab a bite to eat, I tend to spend a lot of time in the sun when attending a Con. The last thing you want is to be uncomfortable on the second (and subsequent) days of a Con because you’ve got sunburn. I tend to always have a little bottle of sunscreen in the backpack-especially at RTX and SDCC. Texas and California sun is no joke (I mean, they’re two completely different suns, you know?!)
I don’t pack a hoodie at every single Con I hit up, but I do pack one for most of them. They not only keep you warm on those cold summer nights sleeping under a bench during SDCC (ahh, ConLife memories!), but they serve as cushion when you’re camping out on the floor. Additionally-and this depends on the weather being appropriate for you to actually wear the hoodie-if you’re wearing the hood, that also serves as a sign to tell Con attendees to LEAVE YOU ALONE…unless you’re cosplaying. When you’re out on the Con floor, you’ve got to buy a few seconds of respite anywhere you can!
As a self-proclaimed ConLife Connoisseur, this is the basic packing list your Bro swears by when gearing up to hit (almost) any Con. Whether you’re looking to be fully prepped for whatever the ConLife Gods throw at you or you’re just hoping you don’t forget any of the essentials, this list provides some of the Con-necessities you absolutely should have with you. I’ve learned plenty of ConLife lessons the hard way, and as a result I don’t hit up any Con without the items on this here list. If y’all have any suggestions on additional items which should be on this list, feel free to add them below. Until next time, Bros!