My Convention Survival Guide
Originally published June 14, 2016. Updated on 8/11/2021
Con season is upon us!
I was planning to write a blog entry on convention food recipes, but that idea has snowballed a bit.
As it turns out my little “adventure” in LA gave me some unique planning experience when it comes to hotel rooms!
This is now more of a survival guide pack list kinda thing, coming from a logistics nerd: Everything beyond the "clothes, costumes, toiletries, booze" basics that you should consider packing for con.
So, let’s get started.
There are a few things that you can pack that will make your life easier, especially with multiple hotel roomies:
Collapsible Garbage Can
Let’s be real, those tiny garbage cans hotels have really aren’t going to cut it. These are relatively cheap, twist down to take up very little room, and hold a LOT of garbage.
Think something like THIS, and pack a few contractor garbage bags to go with it.
Make life easier on the hotel cleaning staff, and leave just a full, tied off garbage bag or two.
Collapsible Laundry Bins
Rather than stuffing dirty laundry back into your suitcase, dump it in one of these! Makes life so much easier.. And cleaner. Do your part to prevent con funk!
I like this laundry hamper
DEFINITELY recommend it to anyone, for what it’s worth.
Fit easily in my suitcase (the coil structure collapses down flat, and is held flat with Velcro straps!), and allowed me to keep my dirty clothes separate and relatively organized!
I like to have a large bottle in the room, as well as a small bottle in my pocket at all times.
I’m no germaphobe, but I DO have a pretty good idea of what hotel surfaces would look like - on a microscopic level - after even a couple hours of a convention!
I like to bring a few 1 Gallon jugs of water, as well as individual bottles.
If you are planning to host a party, or expect that your roomies may be messy... It’s good to bring rug cleaner spray.
Some convention hotels are VERY liberal with charging damages, so try to head that off at the pass.
Plastic table cloths from the dollar store work great as drop cloths on/near your food area.
On that note, if you’re planning any kind of cosplay, bring some hand towels to clean up your makeup.
Doesn’t hurt to use your own towels even for regular makeup - I know one person who got charged a fee because she got normal, everyday foundation on a towel.
Old t-shirt for Pillow
This is mostly if you don’t tend to wash off makeup before bed, or have your hair dyed with something that tends to rub off.
Cover your pillow with a shirt, prevent those damage fees!
Many hotels are older, and their A/C can struggle to keep up during summer month events.
A fan can make a huge difference for comfort.
Do you tend to snore? Be a good roomie and pack some disposable earplugs to offer your roomies.
Do you tend to party late? A sleep eye mask can help deal with a bright room.
At Least One Power Strip
Hotels are notoriously lax on the outlet front - if you have roomies, they’ll all want somewhere to plug their phones in!
The "flat plug" style is handy for hard-to-reach areas, btw.
Not only does the toilet paper run out quickly, but it’s awful stuff.
Same for the kleenex.
Your butt and nose will thank you if you bring some good stuff.
Paper towels, for spills.
PREVENTING CON CRUD
In addition to packing hand sanitizer and using it fairly religiously, there are other things you can do to avoid “con crud” / “con plague” - the generic name for whatever bugs happen to be floating around at a packed convention, knocking people down in the following week or two.
Sleep: Get at least 6 hours sleep per night. Or morning, depending on how you party!
Water: HYDRATE. HYDRATE. HYDRATE.
Food: Don’t rely on consuite, and don’t skip meals. Try not to eat junky food. Trust me, all this makes a difference.... more on that in a bit!
Beyond that, I tend to avoid high-risk foods and open/communal food presentation in consuite.
That bowl of chips?
Dip that's been sitting out for who knows how long?
Stick to individually packaged foods, shelf-stable etc foods, whenever possible.
Wash your hands. OFTEN. Enough said. Also, shower at least once daily... for you, and everyone around you.
FOOD AND DRINK
The better you eat, the better your con experience... and the better your POST-con experience.
Since we started bringing our own food for our room, we’ve yet to get concrud again.
Several years, many BIG conventions - food makes a huge difference. Try to hit the major needs with every meal: protein, fiber, carbs. Load yourself with nutrients!
I like to do hotel room smoothies.
It’s a few easy ingredients, and all you need to pack is a blender.
This year, we will be doing it a bit different, as my husband is currently dairy free: No yogurt, substitute flax milk.
It’s all good - the idea is very adaptable!
See this post for full details: Hotel Room Smoothies
I like to bring a crock pot or two, and have entree type meals on the go for most of the afternoon and evening, so there is good food available for you to grab quickly between panels, etc.
Both recipes were developed to be loaded with protein, fiber, and vitamins!
Bring crockpot liners to make clean-up SUPER easy! Also, trial/travel sized dish detergent.
My go-to for hotel room snacks is my “Con Brownies”.
I developed this brownie recipe to not only be delicious, but to be loaded with protein and FIBER. (Wow, I sound really old right now.)
Tasty, easy to grab on the go, filling, and will.. Help you out. You know. Bonus? They can be done gluten-free!
Another great snack food to make ahead is my Gluten-free Lembas.
Not only is it the most canonically sound recipe I’ve seen, it is tasty and lives up to what Lembas is supposed to do - it fills you up, and keeps you full.
Also: protein and fiber!
As mentioned, bring water. Additionally, Gatorade or other electrolyte drinks - or instant powder - is usually a good idea.
Pain relievers, Tums, Allergy meds, etc. Pretty self explanatory.
Supportive Insoles and Good Shoes.
You’re getting old, even if you won’t remember that til the end of the convention.
Trust me - take care of your feet. (RACHEL I AM LOOKING AT YOU).
Don't wear new shoes to con - break them in first. Also, consider bringing some Moleskin for good measure.
Many hotels and convention centers have ATMs, sure... but they do tend to run dry during large events.
Plan ahead! If your convention has party rooms, be sure to bring a lot of small bills for tipping.
Repair Kit, etc
Even if you’re not a cosplayer, stuff happens.
Also, you could be a hero to someone who is less logistically-minded! Mini sewing kit, safety pins, etc.
Favourite lanyard or Neck Wallet
While you can usually get some kind of basic lanyard on site for your badge, sometimes you just have better ones.
My husband has a favourite one - the band is about 1" wide, and more comfortable than the skinny rope kinds.
I like the neck wallet type, so I can put other stuff in there - my room key, a few dollars, a pen, whatever.
So, that's about it, for now. Anything you guys would add?
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