As many countries around the world begin their pop culture/fan expo season I think this is a very timely subject. I've been going to conventions for the last five years, averaging about three per year, and here is my list of top five things to bring to a convention/expo:
1- Comfortable shoes
There will be a lot of walking around and even more standing in lines during the typical convention, so you best be prepared. High heels might look great but your feet will begin to ache after a few hours. If you’re cosplaying (costume playing) you might need a pair of great looking shoes to complete the outfit. However, you can plan ahead by bringing a second pair of shoes that you can change into at regular intervals. I have also seen people bring camping chairs that are light and portable. When they're in a long line they fold out the chair and have a sit.
2- A large bag
I find carrying one large bag is easier than carrying a purse or small back pack. For one thing, a purse or handbag will most likely not fit everything you will buying. And I get very nervous having everything in a back pack that I can't monitor at all times. A large bag such as a canvas bag that a lot of grocery stores sell for cheap will be large enough to fit in most things that you'll end up buying over the day or two.
3- Your manners
Personally, I think you should bring this everywhere you go, but manners are very important during a convention/expo experience. The excitement of the event can sometimes cloud your judgement, but you should always remember to say thank you to the line guards/monitors and to ask the guest politely before you engage them in a hug or hand shake. Remember, just because they pulled you into a hug at that convention that one time it's not polite to embrace them without forewarning.
Some conventions offer VIP passes which are usually very expensive and come with many perks. Among these perks tends to be express queuing, which means holders of these passes can cut to the front of the time. If you have one of these passes please remember to say excuse me and thank you to the people in front of whom you're pushing. And if these VIP pass holders are cutting in front of you please don't bitch or complain about them. Sure, it can be very annoying to be pushed back further and further in the line, but these pass holders sometimes pay up to ten times as much for their tickets. Without VIP passes being sold months before the convention most guests wouldn't be able to come.
4- Enough money
A lot of conventions are now switching from cash only to cash and EFTPOS, but this is never a guarantee. and this doesn't account for the possibility that the phone lines can go down when they're overtaxed (say, like at a convention when hundreds of people are using EFTPOS to purchase comics, photos, autograph tokens, clothing, etc). Many conventions/expos are located near ATM's, but the lines there are usually incredibly long, and more than once I've seen these machines run out of money. It's always safer to bring cold hard cash to these events. Sure, it can be a hassle carrying a lot of money with you, but it will be worth it when you're able to buy the things that you want. To make sure you have enough money before the event you should check out the event website. There you will be able to calculate how much your photo and autograph sessions are going to cost, and then you can add in extra for such things like comics, clothes, badges, food, books, etc, etc, etc.
I usually bring a bag of chips or biscuits, but this last convention I bought a box of nut bars and this went down pretty well. No matter what your taste is, you should bring some snacks to help you make it throughout the day. The expos that I frequent are located near large food courts but you can never guarantee that you'll have the time to eat a proper lunch. When food establishments are inside the convention you can bet that the food offered will be quick and easy, aka not very healthy.
If you have a particular dietary needs (lactose intolerant, gluten free, sucrose intolerant, etc) then you should bring your own food along. You'll end up saving money if you pack your own lunch.
So there you go; my top five things to bring to a convention/expo. Please let me know if you have any other ideas.
Themes: conventions, expos, comic conventions, fan days, lists