Thursday, June 25, 2015

Packing for a con

Packing for a trip, whether a con or anywhere else is a headache for many people. Unless you are very well organized or a very frequent traveller you have probably forgotten something you needed or found that you haven't used half of what you brought. Never fear, the Internet is here! Yes, I made that rhyme again on purpose, I really like it. Seriously, though, the Internet is a fantastic tool, use it!  

How much to bring:

Unless you are an avid cosplayer (in which case you should know what to bring, you've done it before) you don't need more than a carry on case worth of things. You may also want a backpack or purse to carry during the con.  Remember, you will only be there for three or four days, you do not need your entire wardrobe for those three days. On the other hand, don't bring too few things either, no one wants to smell a three day old t-shirt.

What to plan for:

Look up what the weather will be. Use the Internet, don't guess.  Even if the con is in the middle of summer, check how cold it gets in the evening. If it's in the fall look at the chances of rain and check how warm it will get. For girls: will you be on your period? 

Start small, toiletries:

You need a toothbrush, tooth paste, anti-perspirant, soap, floss. Those are the musts. If you hate antiperspirant because of the chemicals and the fact that it's not that good for you what with all that aluminum and such - tough luck, suck it up. Three days of it won't kill you.  In your normal life it may not be a big deal but in a con setting, with however many thousand other people in very close proximity to you it is the most important thing to smell nice or, more accurately, to not smell at all. Deodorant alone won't do it, you need the heavy stuff. Try to find one with the most neutral smell possible and don't wear perfume or cologne, many people have allergies to them and they are way too pungent for the packed spaces of a con. Remember, no smell is the best smell. 
On the topic of shampoo et al. Depending on where you are staying you may not need to bring any at all. If you are staying with a friend then you can bring some but most likely you will be in a hotel. In that case just use what they provide, it's usually nice and they will always give you more if you need it. Really, though, most people don't need to wash their hair every day. You should rinse it, yes, but shampoo and condition? No.  Either way, you don't need a whole bottle, use what the hotel provides or bring travel sized shampoo. (Ikea had fantastic travel size bottles for $1.99/4 pack)
If you need it, bring a razor but I just do all that right before the con and generally don't bother. The less you need to pack, the happier you will be.  Obviously, if you are a guy then this may vary.
Creams: hotels provide body cream. Use it if you want. I have foot cream with me as well because a nice cooling cream is fantastic after a day on your feet. It will also keep them smelling nice. I also carry travel hand cream with me because my hands get dry and face cream for the same reason.
Girls: supplies, grab what you will need. If you don't need anything then take a few liners just in case, who knows how our bodies will act.

On to the big stuff aka clothing:

Count how many days you will be gone. Bring two more pairs of socks than that. It's a small thing but a fresh pair of socks is fantastic for making you fell refreshed. Extra pairs are also good to have because you never know what may happen and wet feet are evil. Do the same with your undies, a fresh pair will make you feel human again as much as a shower. Girls, you don't need that many bras. We all know that they can be reworn. Bring two. Next are pyjamas, because sleeping in your outside clothes is no fun. 
For outdoor clothes you must decide: are you going casual or will you be dressing up? Either way, no one wants to smell your dirty clothes which means: bring a change of upper garments for every day and one pair of pants or a skirt for every two. Cycle them. If you are wearing jeans you can get away with wearing the same ones every day of the con, they don't need to be washed that often. If it's warm bring a pair of shorts or bring a kilt or skirt if you feel like it. This is a con, if you want to cross dress for fun, do! If it's your thing regularly then do it too, cons tend to be very accepting and welcoming places. Bring a hoodie or a light jacket as well for those chilly evenings.
Shoes: if you are going casual you only really need one pair. Take the most comfortable shoes you own. Take care of your feet and they will take care of you. If you are going to dress up a bit then find that one pair of shoes which goes with as many outfits as possible and bring it. Bring some comfy shoes as well because at some point you will want to change.
Last but not least: accessories!
Make up, hair stuff, etc. if you bring make up to a con then you should know what you need. If you don't usually wear any then don't bring it, the less you bring the more space you have free for buying goodies. Bring hair ties, bring extra hair ties, bring a hair brush! Just don't bring half a suitcase worth of hair products that you won't even use. Same with necklaces, scarves, rings, etc.

And in the end:

Bring an empty duffle bag for all those things that you buy. Bring a small bag for your dirty laundry, put a dryer sheet in it to prevent smells. Bring some carabiners because those are fantastic. You can clip a water bottle onto your bag that way, you can do the same with your pass. You can clip two bags of things together to make them easier to carry! Carabiners really are fantastic. Take a bag to be your day pack during the con. This can be a purse, a small back pack, a messenger bag, that empty duffle bag or whatever you want. It can even be a reusable grocery bag if you so wish. Something medium sized is best so that you can fit things into it but not so big that you hit everyone with it all the time. If you like to take photos then bring a camera but if you only take them rarely, then your phone should be fine. If you need it, bring a laptop but most likely you will be too busy to use it. A tablet may be a better bet. If you care about autographs then don't forget your autograph book but if that's not your thing then just bring a small notepad and pen or pencil. Don't forget charging cables and a battery pack if you have one, a dead phone is no fun at all. Bring medication, headaches and stomach aches are also no fun. Bring your con survival pack for those emergencies and don't forget a water bottle.

There you go. It sounds like a lot but it actually isn't. All of those things will fit into a standard size carry on case or a small hiking backpack, whichever you decide to bring depends on you.

Some things to watch out for:

Knives: different provinces and states have different laws concerning the carrying of knives. Cons may also have their own rules on this. Make sure you look up the rules ahead of time, that's what the Internet is for.
Canada knife law: 
Worldwide knife laws:

Prescription medication: certain types of medication may be illegal or hard to get in different countries. Check what the laws concerning meds with opiates are in the area you are going to. Check what kinds of over the counter medicines are available in case you get a cold. If you are flying and you have a prescription for something DON'T check it in. As long as it is in the original packaging with the prescription label on it you are allowed to take it through security, just go through the assistance line, the agents there are trained with such things in mind. NEVER check in something that you need for survival.

Is there anything you like to bring that I didn't mention?  Is there anything you disagree on?  Tell me about it in the comments below.  As always, have a happy con.

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