I’m a pro at cons. Not to flash my credentials or anything, but I’ve been attending conventions for over 20 years, I’m a Dragon Con Eternal Member, and I’ve been to my fair share of World Cons and NYCCs. In the 50th anniversary year of Star Trek and as a member of Saber Guild, my usual con season is even more jam-packed that usual. From June to October, I’ve got 6 conventions on my schedule. Plus, along with some buddies of mine, I’m an admin for the Dragon Con Newbies Facebook community, which helps newbs prepare for con and even hosts walking tours and Q&A sessions at the convention. So why not share my knowledge with the world?
Today’s Topic: The Con Bag
When you’re at a convention, whether you’re driving in for the day or staying at a nearby or host hotel, you’re probably not going to want to leave the convention floor. So, everything you’ll need has to be with you.
First: The Type of Bag
I am vehemently against backpacks. Sure, they’re conveient. But they’re also big and bulky, and people who wear them typically don’t have very good spatial awareness. If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a million times: Someone with a bulging backpack gets distracted by a shiny, turns quickly, and takes out an elf. It’s not pretty.
Plus, when you’re wearing a backpack, all your stuff is behind you. And you have no idea if someone else is walking by and unzipping that compartment where you just stashed your phone or wallet or room key.
I recommend a crossbody bag, like a messenger bag or large purse, preferably with a zipper closure. This will keep your things close to you and in your line of vision (as long as you don’t sling it behind you), but won’t really add to your footprint or knock anyone else down. ThinkGeek’s Bag of Holding is an excellent con bag, obviously designed for this purpose, but there are many others that can be found at your favorite retailer.
If you insist on wearing a backpack, please take it off in lines, or any time that you’re stationery for a decent amount of time when people are trying to get around you.
Second: What’s Inside
A lot of this is personal preference. So pick and choose what you think is most important for you. But here are some of the things that I carry and/or recommend:
- Photo ID
- Cash (But not ALL your cash)
- Credit/ATM Card*
- Car/House/Room Keys
- Cell Phone
- Cell Phone charger/backup battery
- Convention Schedule
- Camera & accessories
- Your favorite card game (for lines)
- Water bottle
- Prescription medication
- Feminine Hygiene Products
- Travel-size deodorant
- Hand sanitizer
- Wet Ones/Wipes
- Pen, Pencil, Sharpie
- Makeup for touch-ups
- Mini sewing kit
- Stick-on velcro, top-stick or double sided tape
- Oil absorbing sheets that won’t disturb makeup
- Small towel
- Extra socks/underclothes
- Flip flops**
* I highly recommend RFID-blocking sleeves for your credit and ATM cards, for cons as well as life.
** This is one of my favorite tips. A super cheap pair of flip flops (like those $2 ones at Old Navy). Slip them into a side pocket of your con bag, and if your cosplay has some really uncomfortable shoes, you can always take those off and slip on some sandals for a bit. I use mine all the time at Dragon Con, especially if I have to get somewhere quickly and my costume requires heels.
Of course, the contents of your con bag is really up to you. What do you need? What will you use? I’ve carried around stuff I’ve never used, and forgot the same thing over and over again. So, I suggest that you make your own list – actually write it down – and if you find there’s something missing when you’re at the con, make a note on your phone or program or something, so you remember to include it next time.
Third: Keeping Track of your Bag
This should go without saying, but don’t put your bag down and walk away. Be aware of where your things are. Same rules as a big city.
Fourth: Cosplaying with a Bag
Some people won’t carry a bag and make a friend carry all their stuff. Others try to incorporate a bag or large pockets into a costume. Some just want their bag to match. Others (me!) don’t care. I carry the same bag all the time. It’s really a personal choice.
If someone stops you for a photo, you can: 1) Hand the bag to a friend, 2) Put the bag at your feet (long skirts will hide it), 3) Put your bag down out of frame but in your line of sight (this one’s risky), or 4) come up with a pose for your character that hides your bag. Never ever hand your bag to a stranger.
And that about covers it. What do you keep in your con bag?
About the Author
More Stuff from Sue
- Blog Post | Ghostbusters 2016 | I Ain’t Afraid of No Trolls
- Podcast Episode | Anomaly Supplemental | Inside Out
- Blog Post | My Journey to the Dark Side: Cons and Costumes
- Blog Post | My Journey to the Dark Side – So It Begins
- Podcast Episode | Anomaly Supplemental | Broadway Musicals!
- Blog Post | The New Star Trek Series: A Continuing Mission
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