When it comes to packing for conventions there are usually two mindsets: the people who started packing two months ago and the people who start packing two hours before their flight. With only weeks before the convention, no matter which you are it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to take with you.
Some of these are going to be basics that you should take for any long term trip away from home; others convention specific items. Since this is a furry blog, there will be some furry specific items that you should consider taking as well.
And I don’t mean the cat. Take the cat out of the luggage.
When going away from home for longer than a couple days, at the very least you should have the bare essentials. Those include shirts, pants, socks, and underwear. You’ll probably want at least a shirt and a pair of socks for each day, whereas pants may last you longer. Take into account the weather of where you’re going– if you’re going to a southern convention, you probably won’t need a jacket. But if you’re going to a northern convention in the winter or fall, make sure to bring a coat and gloves, especially if you’re not used to cold weather. Remember to bring clothes for sleeping as well, because your roommates probably won’t appreciate it if you sleep in the nude.
You’ll also want to bring toothpaste, a toothbrush, deodorant (please bring deodorant), soap and shampoo. Hotels will usually provide shampoo and soap, but it may not be enough for multiple people in one room and people may not be comfortable with sharing. The travel aisle at your local supermarket is a great place for small necessities like these. You can get travel size of pretty much all the essentials that will last for the length of most conventions.
If you take any prescription medications, make sure to bring more than you will expect to need. You never know if you’ll lose a pill and then end up short a dosage. Earplugs are helpful if you have trouble sleeping in noisy areas, and an eye mask is also handy because hotel curtains suck at actually keeping out light nine times out of ten.
You will still likely buy things at the convention, so make sure to bring any cards or other payment methods that you need. If you bring credit cards, a useful thing to do before leaving is to contact your credit company and notify them that you will be leaving the area. You can usually find their number on the back of the card. Let them know where you’ll be going and when, in case you lose your card or it’s stolen. Cash is also good to have on hand, as you may run into places or vendors that don’t take credit; I recommend taking at least $50 in cash with you and hiding it somewhere safe.
You may not have easy access to a lot of things at the convention. And if you do have access, they’re probably going to cost more than if you brought them with you. Water is important and notably more expensive at conventions. You’ll especially need a lot of it if the convention is in a warm area or if you are a cosplayer or fursuiter. Most conventions will have water available, but it’s still recommended to keep water bottles on you to stay hydrated. Since water bottles can be upwards of $2-3 at con hotels, you may just want to bring a case with you. Snacks are also important to pack, because you will likely be moving a lot and will want to keep your energy levels up. Plus you never know when you might accidentally miss a meal. When packing snacks, focus on protein over salt and sugar in order to keep your energy up. Fruit and nut mix, protein bars and the like will keep you up and running better than chips or chocolate.
Your smartphone and other devices won’t last an entire convention on a single charge. Some conventions have pay-to-charge stations for your devices or may have plugs around the area for your electronics. If not, your hotel room most certainly will have them, so remember to bring you charging cables. If you find yourself short on battery midway through the day, consider bringing a portable battery pack to keep your gadgets topped up.
If you plan on commissioning art of your characters, make sure to have your reference sheets on hand. Wi-fi in convention areas can be spotty to nonexistent, so artists may have to rely on their own mobile data. You may also be receiving art, so it’s a good idea to have folders or other holders to make sure that your new piece of art gets home without a bunch of creases. You can also use sketchbooks and commission artists to draw in them. You can find these at any art or craft supplies store for around $10-20, and you won’t need to worry about extra protection for your art. [Editor’s Note: As an artist, I have many opinions on what does and doesn’t make a good sketchbook. Go for spiral-bound over perfect-bound, so the book can be folded back without damaging the spine. If you want ink or marker commissions, you’ll need a heavy, smooth-surface paper. Thin or “toothy” paper is only suitable for certain media such as charcoal.]
Do you have badges? You’re probably going to want a lanyard to carry them around easier. Conventions often have these at the “con store,” and some dealers may have them, but you can also purchase them online or even at office supply stores.
What if you’re a fursuiter or a cosplayer? This adds an extra bit of packing that you’ll need to keep in mind. Put all of the parts of your costume together in one place, so you don’t forget them. Make sure to bring disinfectant sprays to keep it clean, and emergency sewing kits for any splits that might occur while performing. Fursuiters should bring a brush as well to keep the fur looking nice throughout the convention. If you wear cooling vests or balaclavas, make sure to bring extra.
Things such as water, sketchbooks, food and any purchases you make will likely need to be carried with you, so you may want to consider investing in a bag for conventions. Regular backpacks will work well and offer a lot of space but are heavy and hot, while drawstring bags are the lightest options there is but don’t hold much. Many people opt for laptop cases or messenger bags, which are compact and flat but still large enough for a sketchbook. My personal favorite is the “Bag of Holding Con-Survival Edition,” which is a messenger bag that is both light and holds just about anything I want, plus has room for pins and badges.
Of course this isn’t everything that you need to pack; it will be different for every person. A good idea would be to write a list of all the things you will personally need ahead of time and check them off as you pack them.
Are you still not sure what to pack? Need more suggestions? Or do you have packing suggestions of your own? Leave them in the comments below!
(Special thanks to @aunumwolf42, @DMDash71, @RebelsHeart and @TheKinkyTurtle on Twitter for offering suggestions!)