As I’ve spent the last few days packing for our first convention of the year (Gallifrey One), it seemed a good time to go over some packing tips for con travel. This is by no means exhaustive and is just what we’ve discovered works for us and what a few others on the internet have suggested.
I’m not including things like clothes, basic toiletries, electronics chargers, and your inventory and display systems (though at a future date I WILL talk about “how much inventory should you take?” and display ideas). This is about the things that you likely might not think of – I know we didn’t our first con and we’ve gradually added must-haves for each show!
WHAT TO PACK FOR VENDING AT A CONVENTION
Cash box/bag – something secure to put money in and keep it neat during the day at the con, and something to put the money in to take with you each night/at the end. You don’t want to be shoving all your booth cash in your pocket/wallet.
Small bills – whether you do it at home or at a nearby bank when you get to town, make sure you break up your bills, you’re going to want lots of ones and fives, and it can be hard to get change/break large bills during the show.
Binder clips – we’ve now used these for everything from hanging prints to holding up signage to holding down tablecloths. They’re a multi-use lifesaver.
Bandages – trust me. We didn’t used to pack them, and we always do now. Someone ends up slicing something at some point.
Any meds – From prescriptions to ibuprofen. Include prescription info/details in case something happens and you need to get a refill sorted fast. Also include things like zinc and vitamins, you’re going to get exposed to stuff.
Hand sanitizer – Seriously. You don’t know where anything has been.
Portable chargers – You won’t always have access to outlets at con and especially if you’re using your phone or tablet as a point of sale, you need a way to keep it charged.
Snacks for the room and the table! – Handheld things like bars, crackers, fruit. Things you can snack on in the room and bring in your bag each day to the con floor so you don’t have to stress about getting food at crowded stands during the day. Doubly important if you have allergies. You don’t know for sure what access to safe food will be like at the convention space or near the hotel. If it’s a con we drive to, we now make a big snack/easy grab food run the day before. If it’s one we fly to, we investigate ahead of time where a close store is and make a stop before check in to stock up.
Your own booze – if you drink, everything everywhere is overpriced. If you think you’re going to want to drink in your room with other vending friends after con hours, you’ll want to have your own stash.
Pen, notepad/paper, scissors, tape – You’ll inevitably want to jot down notes or need to make a new/additional piece of signage, so these are important to have in your con bag.
Bathing suit – we used to not pack these, assuming we wouldn’t have free time for swimming, until we realized most of our hotels had hot tubs and how good even a few minutes in one felt after a long day on the convention floor selling.
Sewing kit – even if you’re not cosplaying, the odds of a button falling off or a hole appearing in your clothes is higher than you’d think. Be prepared.
Plastic cups – Matt Moore had a suggestion I hadn’t thought of before – you know how most hotel rooms give you tiny cups for water? He suggests packing your own big plastic cups so you can actually hydrate in your room without refilling your cup 20 times.
Your fave toiletries – Nissa Campbell suggests that even if you know the hotel will provide basic toiletries, pack your own fave body wash or shampoo as the familiarity might help you. She also seconds the importance of packing all your meds (prescription and non).
Fave pillow/blanket – If you’re driving, grab an extra comfy pillow or blanket since hotel room comfort can vary greatly.