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convention guide

What to bring to a convention – a survival guide to make sure you have all the essentials

Whether you’re going to a convention for the first time or whether you’re a seasoned pro, this list of handy items to take with you can only prove to be beneficial. In the excitement of a full day or a weekend away, it’s easy to forget to pack properly or remember that it’s an exhausting, packed day which can even give you the dreaded “con flu”!

Conventions are fun, but they’re even more enjoyable if you’re prepared for them, so prepare with us as we list out some of the best things you can have with you for any convention! Because you’ll likely be saving money for your convention of choice, we’ve kept that in mind and picked some budget but great options!

Bekahizar 20L Ultra Lightweight Backpack

You don’t want to lug around a big, heavy backpack when walking around all day, and this one easily folds up in case you’re taking several bags. Costing only £9.99-£10.59 depending on which colour you go for, this bag released only this year and will repel water (although it’s not fully waterproof), has several pockets including two outside and two side zip pockets, a zip compartment inside for valuables such as ID, and a divider to separate your electronics from your food and liquids.

It has been stress-tested to carry heavy loads and sustain long-time use, has padded straps, and it even comes with two reflective strips to make you more visible during the night. Many conventions have after-parties after all!

Thermos Stainless Steel Flask 1L

Whether you want your drink hot or cold, this stainless steel flash will keep a litre of it for roughly a whole day. I recommend only taking cold water to a convention so that you’re kept hydrated, and the screw-on cap is secure to avoid any leakage. It won’t burn your hand when it has heated liquid, and it doesn’t sweat regardless of temperature. As any large thermos comes with, the cap can be flipped upside down and used as a cup. It’s only £12.50 and a good thermos is a must have for any convention goer. Any snacks, especially hearty, filling meals such as sandwiches, are good to bring too as convention prices are expensive and generally have long queues. That said, there’s a lot of unique and fresh food to get your hands on!

Bum Bag

If you’re worried about going to a convention for the first time, this should help to ease those fears a little bit. This is good advice for experiences con-goers too and whilst it may look so much cooler to have a wallet or purse of sorts, a hard-to-spot bum bag does wonders in both carrying stuff around – especially if you don’t have zip-up pockets – and relieving anxiety. There’s nothing wrong with sporting a good fanny pack!

MoKo’s waterproof bum bag has a mesh padding that prevents moisture build-up, and it has two zip compartments for storing your valuables whether it’s money, cards, ID or your phone. The adjustable strap means that one size will fit most, and at only £6.99 it’s a bargain.

Portable Charger

A very good portable charger can be quite costly, but it’s worth having even a cheaper one around in case of emergencies or you want to meet up with someone. This will recharge most phones for at least 1-2 charges so it’s only necessary to use when your phone is low, but generally at a convention you won’t be on your phone as often as you may usually be. The Anker Astro E1 5200 mAh portable charger works with the majority of modern day phones, and its small size makes it easy to carry around.

Popper Wallet

With so many special guests, fan art and collectibles to get your hands on, you’ll want something that’ll keep them protected on your day out. Coming back home to a scuffed or bent print is no fun, so avoid that with a popper wallet ! A poster tube would work just as well but it’s larger to lug around, and it also relies on your ability to find a decent area to cleanly roll up a print. A popper wallet works best if you have something along the lines of thin cardboard to prevent any other potential damage, but a popper wallet is a cheap, effective way to protect any valuable prints and artwork you purchase throughout the day/weekend.

Notebook

A convention changes every time it appears. Different stalls at different locations, different guests, different signing areas and different panel areas, it’s impossible to prepare for one convention based on your experience with a previous one. Whilst most conventions will prepare a guide for you with timetables, schedules, etc, you’re best off taking a notebook so that you can write down the information that is relevant to you as opposed to flicking through a guide several times throughout the day.

Any notebook will do, but I’ve included an ultra cheap lined-paper one that you can pick up from Amazon. If you’re using it solely for the convention, then you won’t need a fancy planner. The last thing you want is to miss out on something you were excited for because you forgot when it was or you were confused by the guide, especially as times can change on the day! You can update the times in your notebook, but the official guide won’t update. It also doubles as something that you can have signed if you forget to bring something!

Hygiene and Safety

These are bits and bobs you can find online, in supermarkets and in various stores. You want to avoid the “con flu” and becoming ill, and the best ways to prevent that is by being prepared. Hand moisturiser to use often, sun lotion (at least SPF30+, but ideally SPF50+) because you might be waiting outside for various reasons whether it’s to line up for an event or special guest or maybe you’re waiting for friends, and tissues because toilet queues are generally wrong and you’ll kick yourself if your only reason to go in to one is to grab some tissues! You can’t go wrong with packing some deodorant too because you’re going to sweat, whether you like it or not.

These are little things that are often glossed over, but “con flu” is real and you definitely do not want it. I’ve included my personal pick for sun lotion below. It smells super nice too!

You’re all ready for your next convention! You might feel as if you’re over-prepared for a convention but they’re no joke, and as someone who’s attended many I learnt the hard way that preparation is key to making the most of the day. Think of it like attending a theme park – you prioritise your rides of choice, shows to attend and meet and greets, etc, and being prepared for the day or weekend ahead can really improve your time there.

It’s also important to be considerate of other guests by keeping fresh and to wear clothing that’s comfortable to be in all day. You’ll be on your feet a lot, potentially more than you’re expecting, so comfortable shoes, light, soft tops and a pair of shorts or three-quarter lengths are perfect for conventions. The venues can get very warm and so wearing clothing to let your body breathe is vital. And remember – have fun!

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