Hello, my fellow half-pint heroes! Sorax here with a new blog post. In the past five years, I have gone to Anime Detour three times, Animinneapolis twice, and Anime Fusion once. Dealer rooms, party rooms, masquerades, maid cafes, and many more exciting experiences for a con-goer to explore and enjoy. And from these experiences, I have compiled a list of the nine essential things that a con-goer must bring to survive the weekend of a convention. A list that I will share for any new con-goer to use so that they can enjoy their convention to the fullest.
This list is not in any particular order, it is merely here to list items that are needed. In my opinion, all of these items are important, however, your opinions might differ and that’s okay :).
*Con-goer – a person who goes to conventions. They can either be dressed up for the convention or in regular clothes.
*Cosplayer – someone who dresses as their favorite character from an anime, manga, movie, video game, or T.V. show. Can be referred to as a con-goer, but not all cosplayers are con-goers and not all con-goers are cosplayers.
*Cosplay – dressing up as one’s favorite anime or manga character. This has expanded to T.V. show, book, movie, and video game characters. Any age can participate.
*Anime Convention – a convention created to celebrate anime and manga where people of similar interests can go for a weekend and hang out while enjoying panels on their favorite animes and mangas. This has been expanded to include other interests such as books, T.V. shows, movies, etc.
1. Change of Clothes/Luggage
This might seem like common sense, however, I added this for a good reason. A change of clothes can help a con-goer relax at the end of the day so that they do not mess up their cosplay that they have either bought or worked very hard on. Cosplays can also be very heavy and uncomfortable and having a change of clothes can give your body a chance to recuperate and destress. Con sickness is a thing! And nobody wants to stress their bodies out and have a cold after a wonderful weekend of seeing amazing cosplays of your favorite characters.
If you don’t have a lot of space in your luggage for clothes because of your cosplay, try packing easily foldable clothes such as leggings, sweatpants, t-shirts, thin sweatshirts, shorts, or tank tops. Anything that you are comfortable wearing and possibly being seen in if you need to go get food or merely want to go for a walk and check out the dealer’s room. Also pack an extra pair of shoes, tennis shoes or even slippers to wear to save your feet, especially if your cosplay requires heels or uncomfortable shoes.
A change of clothes can also help keep your cosplays from reeking of body odor and collecting too much sweat. Allowing your cosplay to air out by wearing another pair of clothes for a little while will help if you plan on wearing only one cosplay all weekend or if you plan on wearing the cosplay again later on. Most cosplays can’t be thrown into the washer and dryer and can be very difficult to clean if it begins to stink or is stained. Taking time to change out of your cosplay to eat or just relax can help preserve it for more uses.
2. Personal Hygiene Objects
This is a little broad, but for good reason, because it can cover multiple items. Make sure you have a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, and face wash. Use these every night to keep yourself clean. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone back to my hotel room and blown my nose only to have black gunk come out. It’s gross and I can just imagine how much of that gunk is just lingering on your skin, so small that it’s barely noticeable.
Having good personal hygiene while at a convention is very important for yourself and for those around you. There is usually a lot of people in a small space during conventions and nobody wants to be surrounded by people who reek of B.O. I’m not trying to be mean, merely practical. Body odor doesn’t smell good and it can linger on a cosplay, so by having good personal hygiene, it can make your and your fellow con-goers’ experience more enjoyable. Nobody wants to take a picture next to their favorite character if they smell bad.
Personal hygiene has become a big enough deal that many conventions add it to their own list of what to do during a convention. Keeping up good personal hygiene can save you from the embarrassment of having a con volunteer coming up to you and asking you to shower. And yes, this is a thing. While at Animinnieapolis, all of us who went to the opening ceremony were warned that volunteers, specifically the two who were reading the rules, will come up to a con-goer and tell them to go take a shower if their B.O. is that bad. One even joked that they would drag the con-goer to their own shower and wash them if they refused. I mean, I say they were joking, but they did look rather serious. So, to save yourself from seeing if they will make good on their threat, keep yourself clean and full of deodorant. It’ll make everyone’s lives easier.
3. A Good Night Sleep
Again, this might seem like common sense, but many people forget about this through the excitement of an Anime Convention. There is so much to do during a convention and there are room parties and panels that happen later at night for those who are 18 and older and many panels that happen early in the morning. By making sure that you get a good night’s sleep, you can make sure to have energy all throughout the day and do all the things you want to do.
Also, by having an adequate amount of sleep, this can save you from what most con-goers call “Con Sickness”. This is the cold that a lot of cosplayers get after a weekend at a convention. This is contributed to being surrounded by a high amount of people and lack of sleep. Getting at least eight hours of sleep each night can help lower the risk of you getting sick after a con and burning yourself out. Now, there is always the chance to get sick after a convention, but sleep (and good hygiene XD) can help lower your risk of getting sick. This is true even outside of conventions. Sleep is always good and can allow you to have the energy to do the things you love.
I, for one, have issues sleeping the first night at a convention, which is normal when in a new place. I am a very light sleeper, so I have found that listening to music or having earplugs can help, especially on the nights where there are late-night room parties. You can also bring melatonin if that is something you have used before or bring some tea that helps you relax. And I know that hanging out with friends can be tempting, but you have three full days to do so, and as most parents say, the faster you fall asleep, the sooner you can wake up! Or was that just my parents? XD
4. Bring Your Own Food and Drinks
Most hotel rooms have at least a fridge inside it, not all, but most. Most anime conventions provide food and drinks for free, but it’s usually only rice and instant ramen. And as good as both of those are, rice and instant ramen don’t really hold a lot of nutritional value to them. By bringing your own food and drinks, you can store them inside of your room and it can allow you a chance to have time to yourself while you eat. Bringing things like bread, peanut butter (as long as you and your roommates aren’t allergic), water, instant meals (if your hotel room has a microwave), cereal, meal bars, Gatorade, etc.
These items are small and can be found in most stores and can even be purchased after getting your hotel room. Bringing your own food can also help save money, for most restaurants in and around a hotel can be very expensive. And who wants to spend their precious con money on expensive food that might not be very good? Also, if you have roommates, talk with them and see if each person can supply food or drinks as to split up the cost of the items. Sharing is caring!
5. Extra Money
Since I talked about possibly saving money by bringing your own food to a convention, I should add money to this list. Going to a con and just looking around can be fun and you don’t have to spend money at a convention to have a good time, but having some extra cash with you can be very helpful. This could be if you need a taxi to and from the convention if you are not staying in the same hotel (which happens and can sometimes be cheaper), or if you and your roommates decide to order food and want to split the cost among one another.
There is also the chance of you losing your money or someone stealing your money while you’re not looking. While we all hope these situations don’t happen, they are still a possibility and a solution should always be in place just in case. And one solution should be to have extra money hidden away in a place only you know about. And to clarify, I am talking about physical cash and not just a debit or credit card. These are good to have, especially now that a lot of places no longer take cash, but physical cash is also good to have as well. If someone takes your physical cash, then all they get is your cash and that’s it, but if they get your debit or credit card, there are a lot more chances or ruining your credit and draining your bank account. But I digress. Keep physical cash on you or hidden in your belongings as a backup plan and you won’t be without a means to pay for a ride or for food. It also allows you to buy pretty trinkets from the dealer’s room, too. XD
6. Cell Phone & Chargers
Nowadays, almost everyone you meet will have a cell phone. While at a convention, make sure you always have your cell phone on you and in easy access. It is easy to get separated from your friends when there is a large group of people and there might also be times when you and your friends want to go to different panels, so you might split up. By having your phone on you and fully charged, you will always have a means of contacting your friends. And make sure to have all of your roommates’ numbers. Because that might be the one person who will answer their phone when the others do not.
Now for the charger, all cell phones and other devices need a charger. And while almost everyone has a charger, you should always have one of your own. There are circumstances where you might forget it, but try your best to make sure it’s in your bag. Different phones can have different chargers (looking at you Apple) and you could run the risk of nobody having the same charger as you, or already using said charger. It’s just easier to make sure you have your own and keeping all of your devices charged and ready to go. A dead cell phone can make for a sad day when you run into a great cosplay and can’t take a picture with or of them. (Always make sure to ask before taking a photo, some people are shy and might not want their photo taken. So be polite and ask :D.)
Now, not everyone who attends an anime convention will wear a cosplay, and that is quite alright! However, for those who want to dress up, make sure to pack your cosplay! I recommend doing this the week of the convention, even if you are trying to finish the last little touches to your cosplay. Anything you finished with or have already gotten, place this inside a big enough bag or container, as to not damage anything. Make a checklist of everything you want to bring and check off what you have already packed. Wigs, shoes, props, pants, skirt, shirt, vest, armor, anything your cosplay needs to be marked down and packed nicely. Once done, place everything near the door or, if the night is good enough, put it in the vehicle you are taking so you don’t have to do it the day you leave. Though, right before putting everything into the vehicle, I recommend going back to your list and double-check that you have everything, which will go easier if you have made a list of everything.
Now, once you are at the con, keep an eye on all the little bits that you have with your cosplay. With limited space and having to squeeze between people, armor and little bits hanging off clothes can easily be popped off. So, just be mindful of your cosplay, and if you are really paranoid about your cosplay being ruined, maybe wear it on the last day when there isn’t a lot of people or later at night when people have returned to their rooms. Not as many people get to see it, but it’ll keep your cosplay together.
When it comes to leaving, make sure you check the entire room, closet, bathroom, drawers, and even under the bed. Check every crevice you can, because you can be surprised by where a piece of cosplay might be hiding without your knowledge. If anything, bring the check-list you made with and as you are packing to leave, check it off so that you know that you haven’t forgotten anything or lost something without you knowing. There have been many times where my friends and I have gone to a hotel that had a convention previously and have found a previous con-goer’s things in a closet. Don’t be that con-goer. It’ll save many heartaches at the end of the day. And you won’t have to call the hotel to see if they found it.
8. Sewing Kit/Repair Kit
With any cosplay, there will always be little accidents that happen and for those little mishaps, you will need a sewing kit. Or a repair kit in general. Most anime conventions will have someone walking around with various items that can be used to temporarily fix a cosplay, but they are people too and need to have breaks at some point. So, you might not always be able to find them. By bringing your own sewing kit, you will be able to fix your own cosplay and do so in the privacy of your own room. So, you can have the option of removing your cosplay to make it easier to fix. You can’t really do that in a crowded hallway with tons of people trying to get around you to get to a panel or the dealer’s room.
Don’t know how to sew? That’s alright! A sewing kit doesn’t necessarily only have a needle and thread. Some come with safety pins and if not, you can make your own. Just take an old bag or box you’re not using anymore and add things like safety pins, bobby pins, buttons, hot glue gun, a needle and thread, extra fabric, and any leftover bits from your cosplay to the kit. While I don’t make my own cosplays, I always carry a repair kit with me just in case because I do have friends that do make their own cosplays. And even if your friends have a kit, sometimes they miss something that you might have in your kit. It’s always good to be prepared for the worst and not have to use it :).
9. Your Convention Badge
Yes, yes, again with a common sense item. However, you would be surprised by how often a con badge gets forgotten in the hotel room or even left at a table. With most cons, the badge is the only way you can enter panel rooms or the dealer’s room. It also tells the volunteers at the doors whether or not you are allowed to be at an 18+ panel or not. And it’s no use trying to sneak in, most rooms only have one entrance provided and some of the more risque rooms will have two volunteers to check badges as to make sure no one underage gets in. A good way to make sure you always have your badge is to make sure it is secured tightly to a belt loop or your wrist for easy access. Always check yourself and your friends to make sure you have your badge before leaving the hotel room. And if you see a badge left on a table with no one around, turn it into the lost and found. Most people will check there if they can’t find anything.
I would also recommend bringing your own lanyard to use for your badge. While the convention will provide you with one, I find bringing your own with a clip at the back can benefit you to make removal easier. There has been many times when I have put my wig on and gotten it perfect only to see my badge sitting on the bed and there is no way I can get most lanyards over my spikey Roxas or Sora wig. And with the con lanyard, I only have two options, either remove my wig that I just spent five minutes fussing with or wrap it around something such as my wrist, belt loop, or keyblade. With a clip lanyard, this problem is solved easily by just undoing the clip and putting it on like a necklace. These types of lanyards can be found almost anywhere, but I recommend going to Hot Topic or Box Lunch, you can usually find a really cool one with your favorite anime, manga, or video game character on them. I like to match my lanyard with my cosplay XD.
So this is my list of the 9 essential things to help you survive an anime convention! A lot of them are common sense, but I think a small reminder about them can benefit anyone preparing for a convention. There is a lot of anxiety that can go into packing for a trip and knowing if you have everything, especially if it is your very first con. I want everyone to enjoy their time at the convention and not worry about the little thing and if this list can help do that, then I’m satisfied. I’ve had a few friends who weren’t able to enjoy their con-going experience because they either forgot something or didn’t get enough rest during the weekend and ended up getting sick. Take care of yourself and your friends and by doing so, all of you will have a great weekend to remember and you might even make more friends by the time the last day of the convention rolls around. Comment down below if you have anything to add to the list and feel free to share with anyone you know who likes anime conventions or is about to attend their first one!
And remember, let your heart be your guiding key and I’ll see ya real soon!