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Convention season is upon us (I type, my heart lurching in my chest because I have under a month to make two new costumes) and for many of us, that can mean anything from a nice vacation to living out of a suitcase for months on end. But whether you’re attending your one convention for the year or gearing up to cover press for five cons in a row, packing and preparation are important to us all. Forgetting even the most minuscule detail can lead to a pricey drug store run if we forget our toiletries; a single missing part of a costume can ruin the entire ensemble; and god forbid we leave our chargers at home! Oh, the horror!
Here are some tips to help you keep everything in order and alleviate stress as you prepare for the 2015 summer con season!
I have no idea how I survived without apps, and it probably says something about my natural (lack of) organizational skills, but having apps around to help me out before/during cons is incredible. Check your convention’s website to see if they have an app themselves – many apps come with built-in scheduling, so you can sort through panels, events and locations, then schedule them so that you have reminders on the app.
Con Kit is an app that is specifically made for conventions, and while I can’t personally speak for it’s quality, it does have a shiny 4.5 rating from previous users. Con Kit is supposed to help you build your schedule at cons, RSVP for events, easily find vendor booth locations, sync your con schedule up with your friends, and much more. It’s fairly new, but worth checking out for iPhone users.
As far as my personal organizing goes, I absolutely adore 24Me – its a personal assistant app that pulls dates, events and reminders from your built-in calendar and social media, then programs itself to remind you of everything. It’s a great way to streamline your reminders (turn off your other app reminders, of course) and I’m able to stay on my toes without losing my head.
Finding a great navigational app like Waze is important if you’re in a city you don’t know well. I also have apps for certain chains (such as 7-11 and Starbucks) so that I can find a nearby location, quick and easy without triple-checking the accuracy of Google Maps.
Now that you have your scheduling, reminder and list apps, put them to good use! Create packing lists (I separate mine like so: clothing, travel toiletries/personal items, cosplay items, work-related items) to help you streamline your packing; using multiple lists will help you focus on a particular set of items at a time, so that you can keep focus. You don’t have to be as neurotic as I am about it, but make sure your packing list is easy to follow.
Schedule everything ahead of time, if you can. With apps like 24Me and those similar to it, you can usually take a meeting time directly from your e-mail account and plug it in to the app itself. Before the con, keep yourself on a light schedule, too: leave on time, prepare for any traffic, and for your own sanity, make sure you’re up-to-date with the weekend’s weather.
For cosplayers specifically, it’s important to put together an “emergency kit” for those sometimes inevitable rips or accidents. Your kit can vary due to what you’re wearing, but there are a lot of standard staples. My emergency kit is small enough to fit in to a make-up bag – I keep hair bands, bobby pins, needles and white/black thread, safety pins, and double-sided tape. This vlog is a great guide for emergency kit and cosplay planning prep:
Give it a watch and tell me what’s in your emergency kit!
If this is your first con, know that you’ll be out for most of the day and night – every good con never sleeps! Keeping your devices charged is important for keeping in contact with friends, any long lines, moments of cosplay magic, and capturing the first time you meet your favorite writer or actor. If you’re in a hotel room, find an outlet and stick with it for the week.
For most con-goers (especially those of us that spend the night out) investing in a portable charger is a smart idea, and can be extremely helpful on a steamy San Diego day in front of Hall H. At their cheapest and least helpful, most of these chargers are $8-10. If you’re someone who travels a lot for cons, investing in a pricier model will really help you out in the long run.
I have so many friends who are coming up on 30 that still forget this, so apparently it must be said: stay hydrated and always try to eat twice a day. If you can find a decent water bottle to get you through the con, buy it! Dehydration can cause serious headaches, cotton mouth, and, obviously, losing conciousness.
Take care of yourself so that you’re energized throughout the entire day and you don’t miss a second of the con. Not only will you save the staff a few heart attacks – you’ll also be hydrated so that you can take on the dance floor at night!