Dragon*Con: The "down and dirty"

The more I re read these comments/threads the more I would I want to come and have a look at this Dragon Con and all....Damn I wish there are things like this in Adelaide.
I saw this elsewhere, for AKon, but most of the tips are useful for cons in general, not just anime-based cons. I trimmed out some of the stuff more suitable to dealers, as the few WCers who might have something to sell probably already know the routine (and the 15000 character post limit is a bitch).

What to Take to a Con

compiled by Matt J. McCullar
Updated February 2000

I found a basic version of this list at A-Kon 8 and thought I'd share it with everyone, plus add my two cents' worth. Several others have contributed to it. Please add to this list if you can. Learn from others' mistakes and you'll enjoy your con visit that much more.

What should you take to a convention -- science-fiction, furry, anime, gaming, etc.? $$$$$! Lots of it. But as for the rest of the stuff you'll need...

* Toiletries. Don't forget your toothbrush and comb. And, let's face it, hotel soaps and shampoo bottles never last when you've got one bathroom being shared by you and your 4000 friends troweled into one room. Clean clothes are nice, too -- bring a nice shirt to wear to the dance, and you will stand out from the hordes who don't. Assign someone to bring a hair dryer to share. Use just enough deodorant and cologne. People will love you for it. (Keep toiletries inside zip-lock bags in case they split open inside your luggage.)

* Sleeping bag. You lost the coin toss, so everyone else gets the beds. You can try zonking in the bathtub, but a sleeping bag is far more comfortable. If you bring an air mattress, then for gosh sakes bring an air pump, too. Inflating it the old-fashioned way means your roommates will have to either step over you all the time or drag you out into the hallway after you've passed out from lack of oxygen.

* Tweezers. Keep them in your shaving kit. This is one of those items that you never think about until you suddenly need it.

* Jam box (or Walkman). Never hurts to be able to listen to those CDs and cassettes you paid way too much for in the dealer's room. Listening to Dr. Demento songs makes for a great room party.

* Ice chest. That lunch meat you brought with you won't stand up to room temperature for long, and warm Cokes are an insult. Also provides a place to stash wet swim trunks on the trip home. Bring plenty of zip-lock baggies.

* Cokes, lunch meat, bread, mustard, peanut butter, potato chips & cookies. While we're at it, "brown-bagging" your munchies is a HECKuva lot cheaper than trolling the fast food joints. You'll have more money to spend. Ice is available from the hotel. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day; which do you think will be less expensive: your own box of cereal, or the hotel's restaurant?

* Large plastic garbage bag. Use it for keeping your dirty clothes separate from your cleans. Keep this in your luggage so the maid won't accidentally throw it (and your clothes!) into the trash.

* Pepto Bismol. You never know when you might need it. If you're in an unfamiliar city, you might react violently to the drinking water. And the hotel gift shop can price this pink stuff into the stratosphere because they know there's nothing you can do about it. (Bring bottled water if you have a history of health problems.) Also bring aspirin, antacid, additional health-care stuff. Medicines in pill form travel better than liquids. Keep your prescriptions with you.

* Lock box. If you're a dealer or just carrying extra cash, you need a safe place to put it. Perhaps the hotel can store it for you. Unless you can guarantee that nobody you don't know is coming into your room, it's best to make sure some things aren't open to the public. You might want to padlock your ice chest, too, or your food might disappear.

* Flashlight. Power does go out at cons, but even if it doesn't, not everyone in a room is always asleep at the same time. If you have to root through your stuff in the dark, turning on the table lamp just might get you tossed off the balcony. And if you get a Maglite, it's also good for defending yourself. Don't forget extra batteries.

* Extension cords and power strips. If you drag a VCR/TV/boom box/computer along with you, these are a must. There are never enough electrical outlets in a hotel, and they are never where you need them.

* Swimsuit. Hey, the pool might be open. Or the ocean.

* Towel. Always bring your own towel. The hotel's are never big enough, and you can always identify which one you've used. Besides, it's a tough universe... you've always got to know where your towel is. I'm not fussy about pillows, although you may want to bring your own for comfort's sake. Extra tenants in one room may mean not enough pillows. Perhaps your own washcloth, too.

* Paper cups, paper plates, eating utensils. You'd be surprised how hard these can be to procure when you really need them. And even if you aren't holding any parties, do you really want to be swilling your Mountain Dew from the same bottle everyone else has been backwashing into? Some folks bring their own cola mugs, but I find those too easy to lose.

* Masking tape and marking pen. Important for identifying whose stuff is in what drawer in the hotel room. Identifying drawers also might keep you from forgetting and leaving your undies behind when you're rushing to get home. Also useful for taping up flyers and notices (if it's okay with the hotel, that is).

* Extra eyeglasses. If they get broken or lost, what are you going to do? They can get sat on, stolen, or dropped off of balconies. Can you drive home without them? Same for contact lenses. At least bring a fixit kit that includes a small screwdriver.

* Earplugs. Being trapped in a room with someone from the Olympic snoring team will be agony unless you can block out the noise or listen to your Walkman.

* Want list. Einstein said that if it's written down, you don't have to remember it. Write down everything you're looking to buy in the dealer's room: back issues of comics, movies, CDs, the works. Better yet, write down before you leave all the issues of comics you already own so you can fill the holes. This prevents buying things you don't need.

* Cardboard mailing tube. Your nice, new movie posters will be ruined if you pack them in your suitcase. A mailing tube will protect them, and you can mail them home if you can't carry them. Also provides a place for keeping dirty socks.

* Driver's license and secondary I.D. You're from out of town and not everyone will take your check without positive I.D. Keep your passport with you at all times. This is very important if you need help while visiting another country.

* Camera. No joke. Can you remember what you had for dinner last night? Then how are you going to remember everyone you met and every place you went to over an entire weekend? You'll be glad you took some snapshots later. They're fun to pass around at room parties. (If you're flying, keep your camera inside your carry-on baggage, where it won't be out of your sight. Cameras of all types are prime targets for luggage thieves.)

* Comfortable shoes. You will be on your feet a lot, particularly when shopping in the dealer's room. Buying a new pair of shoes right before the con is not a good idea unless you have a high threshold of pain because the shoes break in your feet, not the other way around.

* Sewing kit. Very important for costumers! Judges take away points when tails fall off. Also useful for small emergencies such as buttons popping off.

* Empty folder. When you get to registration they're going to give you all sorts of flyers, pamphlets, con books, schedules and maps. Unless you have something to put them in, chances are you're going to lose one or two of them -- especially the most important ones. After you stash them all in a simple clip folder, jot down a list of times and places of panels and shows you want to attend, in advance. That way you won't forget any of them. Some cons give you tote bags, but take along your own, just in case.

* Wristwatch. Sounds obvious, I know, but watch the havoc begin if you forget it. You won't know when something's on without it.

* Checklist. Make several copies of your checklist of things to bring and take home, so all you'll have to do at convention time is check off the items one by one. This eliminates having to think when you're packing so you are less likely to forget something important.

Other Things to Remember

Be sure to leave the hotel's phone number with your family. If an emergency comes up, how will they be able to reach you? Try this phone number beforehand and make sure it works. Notify the hotel desk if you change rooms so they'll know where to relay messages.

When dealing with hotel employees, always get their names. This helps track down and prevent communications problems, particularly when some clerk sneers, "Well, I don't know who you talked to, but our policy has always been..." Be very polite if you bump up against a problem, and be persistent.

Write down on a stiff card the following information: your name, any medical information paramedics need to know, and whom to contact in case of an emergency. If you aren't wearing a medical bracelet, the next place the medtechs will look is in your wallet or purse. Keep the card there and make sure your roommates know about it.

If your residence will be empty, ask your post office to hold your mail while you're away. This can be done for free by filling out a small card at the counter. Also stop newspaper delivery and ask your neighbors or landlord to watch your home (bribe 'em with stuff you bring back from the con!). Have someone take care of the pets, the plants and the kids.

Put your name on your videocassettes. For that matter, put your name on everything you can't afford to lose. Not everyone can recognize your handwriting or your possessions, and if I find someone else's stuff in my suitcase when I get home, I need to know where to send it. (I personally use those return-address stickers normally used for envelopes. They're small, self-adhesive, and fit perfectly on videotapes.)

Check under the bed before you leave the hotel. The monsters that live there eat socks, shoes, etc.

Take advantage of pre-con registration. Not only will you save money, you also won't have to stand in line with the masses. Make certain that you bring proof of pre-reg with you; con staffs have been known to lose paperwork, and they can't argue with a canceled check. The same holds true for the hotel staff if they don't have a record of your room reservation.

Budget your time as well as your money. You can't possibly see everything and everybody, so don't kill yourself trying. Your body needs to sleep and eat, so include time for both in your schedule. You won't enjoy the con if you make yourself sick.

Illness can spread quickly through a con, because people come from all over, bringing regional diseases and sharing them. This is often referred to as "con crud" or "the lorch." This is why you should bring your own medicines. Remember the last time you were sick, away from home?

You always return from a con with more stuff than when you left, so bring an extra bookbag. Or make sure you leave room in your luggage for all the stuff you'll buy. Prepare to do some heavy lifting.

If you want to risk it, bring your own TV along with the VCR. Most hotels have security devices attached to their televisions that prevent easy access for VCR hookups. There's probably a cable box hooked up to it, anyway.

Carry your wallet and checkbook in your front pants pockets. This makes life miserable for thieves. They know congoers are loaded with cash and credit cards. It may be uncomfortable, but consider the alternative.

Leave the bathroom light on at night and the door ajar. It provides a convenient night light.

Turn some of your money into small bills before you get to the dealer's room. You can't count on every merchant being able to break a twenty. If you're a dealer, be sure you've got plenty of change before the doors open. Try to use the ATM when everyone else isn't.

Trust me -- your luggage will be impossible to identify at the airport without marking it in some unique way. Wrap colored tape (such as day-glow orange or yellow) around the handle, and/or use colored tape to form some kind of a pattern on both sides that will pick at your eye for a long distance. Put your name inside your luggage as well as on the outside.

If you've never used traveler's checks before, they are easy to buy at your local bank for a small fee. (I'm told that the AAA offers them for free.) They are much safer to carry than large amounts of cash and can be redeemed anywhere. Keep a record of the serial numbers -- you won't be able to get your money back without them if the checks are stolen. Keep this record separate from the checks.

It's easy to lose track of how many personal checks you have left until you suddenly find you're down to your last one. Count them before you leave.

Airport security may ask you to boot up your laptop computer. Therefore, keep the batteries charged. (And for crying out loud, don't joke around at the checkpoints! Hassling the guards never got anyone to a con any faster.)

If you plan to drive to the convention and your car needs servicing, don't wait until the last minute. Get it done at least two weeks in advance. This gives everything a chance to break in and you're less likely to end up stranded in the middle of nowhere. Give yourself and your car plenty of rest breaks during the trip. Do you know how to change a flat? Practice before you go. Carry lots of water -- both for yourself and for the car.

If you're flying to the convention, keep your plane tickets in a safe place. If you're flying with a group, appoint one person to be in charge of the tickets. Make certain that everyone knows where they are kept. Don't lose them! Keep airline tickets inside an envelope of an unusual color, so you can find it in a hurry inside a crowded folder or briefcase.

(to be continued)
Part two:

Moderation in all things: don't overfill a hotel room. Sure, 20 people for a pizza party is fun, but it's absolute misery for all involved when it's time for lights out. It'll overload the bathroom, and it's also against the fire codes. (The nearest fire exit should be the first thing you look for as soon as you get into your hotel room. Make sure your roommates know where it is, too.)

Like it or not, as soon as you set foot into the convention, you become an ambassador for your fandom and a newbie's first impression may come from you, your behavior, and your personality. The same goes for the mundane hotel guests -- ordinary folks who have no idea what your con is all about. Try to make everyone feel welcome. Will a new fan join the fun, or will he run screaming into the night? We're all supposed to have fun at a convention, not frighten people away forever.

By the same token, if you're new to fandom and are a bit timid around strangers, don't worry. You will see and meet all sorts of people. Take heart in knowing that they are all there for the same reason you are. That means you have something in common already. If you need help with anything, ask the convention staff. They are ready and willing to help first-timers as well as seasoned pros. They can introduce you to other fans, and that's one of the main reasons why we go to conventions. Tell yourself over and over that you WILL have a good time, because you will -- if you let it happen. If you're convinced that you'll have a lousy time, you'll probably find a way to make that happen, too. It's fun! Enjoy it.

Above all, don't forget the most important thing to bring to any con: a sense of humor. Go out of your way to thank the convention staff and the hotel staff for their hard work and tell them how much you enjoyed it all. Now have fun.