Comic-Con Checklist and Survival Guide
Summer is upon us, which means that it’s prime time for comic cons and conventions across the country! Sure, there are plenty of events to attend year ’round, but this is always the highlight of the season. Marquee events this summer include:
San Diego Comic Con International: July 9-12, 2015
Wizard World Chicago: August 20-23, 2015
Gen Con: July 30-August 12, 2015
Dragon Con: Labor Day Weekend, September 4-7, 2015
Stormtrooper cosplayers at Comic-Con 2014
So, you know where you want to go. You’ve scoped out the con online and you know what you want to do there and which costume (or costumes) you and your group will be wearing. But how should you plan your trip? Improper planning and packing can ruin what could otherwise be a great time, and the last thing that you want is to realize you’ve forgotten something.
To help make sure that that doesn’t happen, we’ve created the BuyCostumes.com Convention Checklist – a simple guide to help you make sure you have everything you need.
In This Post:
Before You Begin
- Check event and airline restrictions – Don’t pack any items that won’t be allowed inside the venue, and make sure not to have any banned items in your carry-on. Here’s a list of what is and isn’t allowed by the TSA.
- Let people know the details – In case of an emergency, give your travel plans/itinerary to a contact back home.
- Arrange transport – Is it a carpool, or are you driving yourself? If you’re flying, familiarize yourself with the airport’s parking situation, or arrange for someone drop you off and pick you up later. You can also take a taxi or use a ridesharing service like Lyft or Uber.
The Day Before You Leave
- If you’re flying, check in in advance – Checking into your flight early will ensure that you don’t get bumped if the flight is overbooked. Depending on the airline, you might be able to take advantage of other options such as preferential seating and boarding times.
- Gone for more than a few days? Take out the trash and put food away – you don’t want to come home to a smelly house.
- Make sure your electronics are charged now, so that they won’t die before you get to your destination.
- Gather any essential documents, either on your phone or as a printed copy. Things like:
- Hotel reservation confirmation
- Itineraries and boarding passes
- Event schedules
- Event badges, tickets, or passes
The Master List – What to Pack for Conventions
The Basics of the Basics
Have these essentials on your person at all times, or stash them with somebody in your group.
- Photo ID
- Convention pass/badge/credentials, if applicable
- Money – Not only is extra cash useful to have on hand in case of emergencies, but not all vendors at all conventions accept plastic.
- Credit card or ATM card
- Your costume and all of its pieces – If you’re bringing a costume with a lot of pieces (or multiple costumes, for that matter), it’s a good idea to make a separate checklist just for that. Leave no accessories behind!
- A fresh change of clothes for each day
- Swimsuit, if there’s going to be a pool/hot tub at the hotel
- Plastic bag – Use this to keep dirty clothes separate in your suitcase or carry-on.
- Plastic poncho in case of rain – These can be picked up at any drugstore.
- Hoodie or jacket – Be prepared for any temperature with layers that can easily be removed and added.
- Glasses or contact lenses and solution
- Comfortable shoes or flip-flops – You’ll be walking around a lot, and even though your everyday kicks probably don’t match your costume, you’ll at least want to have the option.
Emergency Costume Repair Kit
Even if your cosplay starts to fall apart, don’t let your whole experience follow suit. These items might not be long-term fixes, but they’ll get you through the weekend in one piece (literally). Depending on your costume, it might be a good idea to bring extra accessories.
- Bleach pen – Test all spot-cleaning devices on a small, inconspicuous area of the costume first.
- Lint roller
- Safety pins
- Fabric tape or fabric glue
- Hot glue gun – If yours is cordless, remember to bring batteries.
- Duct tape or gaffer tape – For dire situations.
- Super glue – For very dire situations. Bring some nail polish remover, too, in case you get some on your skin.
- Clear nail polish – Stops runs in nylons/stockings.
- Sewing kit/needles and thread
- Extra buttons, snaps, Velcro, etc.
Hygiene & Personal Items
You’ll be in densely crowded buildings with hundreds or thousands of other sweaty convention-goers. This category should probably speak for itself. Also, if you’re going to be flying to your destination, make sure that any products you bring along adhere to airline and TSA restrictions and guidelines.
- Deodorant – It’s become a bit of an over-used joke to mention “eau d’convention,” but that’s only because it really happens. We’re not here to judge, we’re just being real.
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Dental floss
- Travel sized shampoo, shower gel, mouthwash, etc. – Again, be mindful of airline restrictions.
- Hand sanitizer or hand wipes
- Foot powder/spray or Odor-Eaters – It’s like deodorant for your feet.
- Breath mints/freshener
- Extra deodorant
Health and First-Aid
Conventions aren’t any fun if you’re feeling under the weather. It’s better to have a few basic remedies on-hand and not need them, than to not bring any and wish you had.
- OTC medication, e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen, antacids, etc.
- Prescription medication, inhalers, blood sugar testing devices, etc.
- Band-Aids – Various sizes.
- Chemical-based cold packs or heat packs
- Aloe vera – In case the sunscreen fails.
- Chargers and cords – It doesn’t hurt to pack spares or extra USB cables if you have any.
- Point-and-shoot camera/DSLR
- Music player/headphones
- Handheld consoles
For the Hotel Room
Call your hotel ahead of time and ask about the features that are included or not included in your room.
- Power strips – Rule #1 of every hotel ever: There are never enough outlets. This is especially true if you’re sharing a room with a big group.
- Sleeping bag/blankets and pillows – If you’re sharing rooms and planning to sleep on the floor, you can never have too many of these.
- Ear plugs
- Your own towel – In case you don’t want to know where the hotel towels have been.
- Cooler – Not every hotel room has a fridge to keep things cool. They almost always have ice machines, though.
Your personal tastes may vary from ours, but here are some ideas for snacks that are portable and will keep you energized. They’re also easy to sneak into places that don’t allow outside food, not that we would ever suggest such a thing.
- Bottled water
- Powdered drink mix packets
- Juice, sports drinks, energy drinks, soda, etc.
- Dehydrated fruit
- Granola bars
- Trail mix
- Sharpies, for collecting autographs
- Pen and paper
- Extra bags or totes to hold prizes, goods, and/or swag
General Dos, Don’ts, and Convention Etiquette
Before you set off on your way, here are couple more quick tips on how to get the most out of your convention experience (and to avoid being “that guy”).
Most importantly, do dress up! Conventions are meant to be fun, so put on a costume and act silly with a few friends. Also, don’t worry if you’re not a master cosplayer – if you’re having a good time, that’s all that really matters.
Don’t bring live steel as part of your costume – in other words, real metal weapons (sharpened or not), stage props, or other costume accessories that could hurt someone. Rules regarding the realism of cosplay weapons differ from con to con and venue to venue, and should be researched ahead of time. But it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
Do keep hydrated, but don’t expect a lot of food and drink options. Naturally, this varies greatly depending on the event, but come prepared with your own water and snacks.
Do expect huge crowds and lines, especially if you’re going to a bigger convention (or, for that matter, a convention in a compact venue). To counteract the crush and enjoy your time as much as possible, do plan what you want to see at the con, where it is in the venue, and when it’s happening.
Don’t be a line hog or try to save seats for all 20 members of your group at the next panel. Again, these events are usually packed, so please be mindful of your fellow convention-goers’ space, too. Following on from this …
Don’t block corridors or other areas of heavy foot traffic with your group (or with your hyper-realistic battle mech cosplay). If you notice others doing the same thing, politely ask them to move so you can get by.
Do you have any conventions on your calendar this year? Which ones? And what will you be dressing up as? Let us know your thoughts on comic cons and cosplay on Facebook and on Twitter @BuyCostumes. You can always check out our Pinterest for costume ideas, too.