Con prep

There is already a lot of great advice out there as we go into con season. Hopefully you’ve internalized a lot of it already, especially the necessity of eating, bathing and sleeping.[1] But there are other things that can help you out, especially if you don’t travel a lot. I know that for me, conventions were my first real reason to start using hotels rather than crashing with friends. I’m not much of a business traveller, but I’ve picked up a few things out of necessity, and I figured I’d share.

belkinFirst, pack a power strip. This is one of those things which is absolutely common sense once you start doing it, but if you haven’t done it, and you have tried to figure out how to charge your various devices in a hotel room, then you understand the need. I use one of these because it also has USB ports, which reduces the number of adapters I need to carry. One warning: if you have an iPad or similarly large device, make sure the USB ports are 2.1 amp, otherwise it will pretty much never charge.


Second, get a travel tray. This is a category of item that I didn’t even realize existed, but I am so glad I found it. It is, basically, a crap bucket – a place to put all the stuff rom your pockets at the end of the day without it all wandering around the room. Most of them pack flat, and just fold up into tray form when you need them, though some (like the Tom Bihn version) double as storage, which is kind of cool.

packingThe value of the travel tray is probably obvious, but the next thing may not be: Packing Cubes[2]. It used to be these were a rare item that only business travelers knew about, but they’ve gotten a bit more mainstream. If you haven’t used them, they seem counterintuitive – pack your stuff into containers, then pack it into a bag? MADNESS!

But if you talk with anyone who uses them (like me) you will discover that they help you pack more efficiently, make unpacking and living out of a suitcase much easier, and just generally improve the travel experience. If you’re skeptical (and I was) check out this video for a sense of how to use them.

This last thing is a little crude, but please bear with me. If you go to a convention, odds are good you are sharing a room with other people. This, combined with convention food and other issues means that the bathroom of your hotel room may be something of a danger zone. For years, I’ve tried to take steps to minimize this – I always pack gas-x and a small bottle of lysol or equivalent – but this year I have a secret weapon: Poo-pourri.

Yes, that stuff. With the video.[3]

Amazon carries it in a variety of scents in case Lavender is insufficiently manly for you, and I will swear – this stuff works. It works remarkably well. I am pretty confident my roommate will thank me for it.

So, those are a few of my tricks to make the trip a little bit more sane. Anyone out there have any con travel tips they want to add.

  1. And, of course, bringing a good con bag.  ↩
  2. This is actually a shorthand for pouches, cubes and other sorts of subcompartment.  ↩
  3. If you haven’t watched the video it’s kind of hilarious, but if you have, then you know what I mean.  ↩

5 thoughts on “Con prep

  1. Señor Josh

    Earplugs. If you have a roommate, earplugs are a must. Even if they swear up, down, and sideways they don’t snore, even if their spouse swears they don’t snore, a simple case of the sniffles can translate into snoring, which can turn into a night of no sleep for you.


  2. Matt

    As soon as I saw the title I thought, “I’ll tell him about packing cubes!” Yeah. Well. Apart from being a huge fan of the big ones for clothes, I’m also an even huger fan of the smallest ones which I keep my charger plugs, cables, styluses and other easily losable bits of electro-crap in.

    And don’t forget small plastic bottles (I’ve found MUJI’s the best) which you can load with shampoo etc. instead of bringing along larger, heavier, and easier to squish (thereby squirting their contents all over your bag) normal bottles. Enjoy your travels!

  3. Declan Feeney

    Pack the stuff for games you are running individually – ideally a single envelope to player characters and handouts, another for reference sheets and final envelope for GM stuff. Place the three envelopes in a folder (one folder for each game), and pack the folders with the first game you plan to run at the top. Organizing stuff at home is always much easier than trying to organize at a con.

    Also assume players will bring nothing, so pack pencils, erasers and dice for each game.

    Having just got back from UK Games Expo, if the convention is at an out of town convention center, pack food or buy it on route. This isn’t really a concern if there are places to eat out near by, but when they have you over a barrel they will charge ridiculous prices. (In fact if I’d thought to buy a half dozen individual pies and some cans of diet coke on the way to UK Games Expo the saving on food could have financed 3 or 4 good hardback game books !!).

  4. Phil Vecchione

    I like having a portable battery to charge phones and tables from. I have an Anker battery, and I can charge my phone a few times before needing to recharge the battery. I find that at Con’s my phone is on data more than wifi so the battery goes quicker. Many times I am not near an outlet or I am moving around so I can’t take the time to plug in. With the battery, I can re-charge my phone on the move, while playing in a session, or giving a talk.

    I like this one:


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