Whether you’re a first time convention attendee, or a seasoned pro, it’s always a good idea to pack with a plan. After a full day at the convention center, you’ll just want to escape to your hotel room, or grab drinks with new friends. You’ll be glad your convention bag is packed with convention essentials, so you’re not scouring the shops outside the convention center for small items at the end of the day.
Disclaimer: this convention packing list is written more casual conventions in mind. If your convention weekends include formal dinners, high-end networking events, or specialized conferences, it will be a good idea to pack specific things like portable steamers for your outfits, a sewing kit, high heels, cosplay pieces, etc.
Clothing for your convention bag
My first pro tip involves planning ahead. Start your convention packing list as soon as you register for your next convention. You’ll be familiar with the convention schedule after selecting workshops from the online schedule at registration, making it easier to know how much stuff to include in your luggage. It’s a good idea to set aside an empty suitcase or extra tote bag, and toss items in in the weeks leading up to your next convention.
The first thing you’ll want to check off your convention packing list is a pair of comfortable shoes. I personally do a lot of walking both in the convention center and exploring the city. While you might be tempted to bring along a new pair of shoes, it’s a good idea to break in new shoes before jumping into convention season. At the end of the day, your entire body will thank you for packing comfortable shoes that have been worn in. Consider packing a plastic bag or an extra tote bag in case your footwear gets wet or dirty.
Whether it’s your first time attending a convention, or convention weekends are a common occurrence in your calendar, don’t forget to bring along some semi-formal attire. You never know what new friends you will meet, or what restaurant or event you’ll be invited to at the end of the day. This could include high heels or wing tips, as well as one comfortable but smart outfit.
Consider packing a light sweater, as it may cool off at the end of the day, but it also pairs better than a light jacket with semi-formal attire. It’s a good idea to pack clothing to wear at the convention centre that’s easy to care for; a silk blouse or expensive italian necktie might not travel well in your convention bag. And it’s unlikely that you’ll have one of those portable steamers, maybe not even a sewing kit in your hotel room.
The first thing I do when I get to my hotel room is to hang up my semi-casual attire so it’s less wrinkly when I head to the convention centre in the morning. If you’re heading to a cosplay convention, it’s a good idea to get those cosplay pieces out of your convention bag for the same reasons.
If you’re attending fan conventions in Las Vegas, or a cosplay convention, your daytime wear for the convention centre may be a little more casual or even include cosplay pieces. If your next convention is business related, you’ll want to stick with business casual.
Must-have tech items for your convention weekends
This topic is so important that I think it deserves its own section. It’s a good idea to arrive at the convention center armed with mobile devices and everything you need to keep them running. Thankfully, cell phones can serve as a hotspot, in case your hotel room or the convention center don’t have reliable wifi. It’s a good idea to charge up your device the evening before you depart, but also make sure to pack a portable charger or power bank so you don’t run out of battery while en route.
I have a drawer full of extra phone chargers in my kitchen, I would also recommend stashing one in your extra tote bag, just in case. Some fan conventions and business events aren’t really suited to bringing along a full blown laptop. If you’ll be doing a lot of walking around between trade show booths, you won’t want to be carrying head mobile devices. Consider bring a light weight PDF reader or tablet.
And now for the 23 convention packing list essentials
- Roller suitcase – for most convention weekends, well-packed carry on luggage is often enough. It’s always a good idea to throw in an extra pack, in case you go shopping and return with more than you left with.
- Good backpack or extra tote bag – it’s a bonus if this piece of luggage can double as your personal item on the plane and as a convention bag for your mobile devices while you’re moving about the convention space.
- Comfortable shoes – this could really be the first thing to add to your convention packing list. Convention weekends can involve a lot of walking, believe it or not.
- Not-so comfortable shoes – depending on the nature of your convention weekends, you may want to pack more formal shoes like high heels. These obviously aren’t practical if you’ll be doing a lot of walking, or if you don’t have lots of space.
- Convention clothing – this could be a whole separate convention packing list, but that’s for another time. Amongst the most important items, don’t forget to pack a light jacket and some semi-formal attire. Depending on the nature of your convention weekend, clothing choices will vary.
- Light sweater – this all important item gets its own spot on the convention packing list. The convention hall, although indoors, might be chilly. And airplane cabins are almost always cold. Rather than wearing a coat indoord, it’s a good idea to pack yourself a light sweater.
- Mobile devices – this includes cell phones, laptops, and tablets or a PDF reader.
- Portable charger – batteries and chargers are small items, but very important ones. Consider bringing a power bank on your next convention weekend, and depending oin the format of your hotel room, an extension cord can be useful for using your computer while laying in bed.
- Credit card – don’t forget to plan ahead as to how you will pay for all of the little extras outside of the convention center. A credit card and a little cash is always a good idea.
- Identification – this could include a passport or driver’s license, depending on whether you’re staying in the United States or travelling further afield. You’ll need this ID when you check in for your flight, hotel room, and even when registering at the convention center.
- Convention schedule and itinerary – it’s always a good idea to print these off as they don’t take up lots of space.
- Business cards – these are really useful when visiting trade show booths, or when networking and meeting new people.
- Snacks – it’s always a good idea to pack some extra snacks like bars, nuts, or dried fruit. The convention center may be a long way from a grocery store.
- Water bottle – if you don’t have enough space, shop around for a collapsible water bottle.
- Personal hygiene items – lip balm, hand sanitizer, gum or mints, and some painkillers. It’s a good idea to throw these small items into your extra tote bag or convention bag.
- For writing – it’s a good idea to pack a notebook and pen, or maybe a padfolio. Sometimes the convention center won’t be set up for you to take notes on your mobile devices, a good old pen and paper can be useful.
- Laundry – it’s a good idea to toss a plastic bag or two into your convention bag. A plastic bag can double as a laundry bag and somewhere to put wet or dirty shoes.
- Safety items – pick up a small first aid kit ahead of your next convention. Small cuts and scrapes may require attention, and bandages can help to alleviate pain from blisters in case you’re doing a lot of walking.
- Small items that go a long way – a sewing kit and a rubber band are small items that you can slip into your convention bag. You never know when you might need to mend something.
- Ear plugs – this essential item will allow you to sleep if your hotel room is noisy. It’s often the first thing I throw in my convention bag.
- A pro tip for your convenience – bobby pins, paper clips, and a nail file. These are miscellaneous items that are too often overlooked on a convention packing list. If you’re wondering whether or not these sharp items can go in your carry on baggage, take a look at this article INCLUDE TITLE ADD LINK.
- Cosplay convention items – should you be heading to San Diego comic-con, or any other sort of cosplay convention, your convention packing list should include cosplay pieces, maybe even a wig cap.
- Positive attitude – convention weekends are a great way to network, make new friends, and meet new people. A positive attitude will make your next convention all the more successful.
Making a packing list is a great way to ensure that you arrive at your next convention prepared to have a fun time. Bringing along all of the convention essentials is a great way to get the most out of your next convention. Since each convention center, hotel room, and weekend convention warrior is different from the next, it’s a good idea to modify this convention packing list from time to time.
Traveling outside of convention season?
Plan ahead to arrive at your destination prepared and well-rested by reading about the top 42 essential carry on items.