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This week will be my tenth New York Comic Con. NYCC, as it is known, is technically the largest in the world by attendance. Well, it was before the pandemic, at least. I’ve been to probably 100 conventions in my time in the scene. I first attended as a fan in 2011. Not long after, I was there as press, to cosplay, as a speaker, as a moderator and even as an exhibitor. There are many things I wish I had known when I started attending in terms of what I needed to bring.
Some things seem obvious, but believe — you always forget something. Remember your badge, and you’ll need your mask again this year. But making a list and checking twice whether you’re cosplaying, trapped in a booth, or wandering the floor is never a bad idea.
Here are a few things to remember to pack, whether you’re attending as a fan or pro. And if you’re at the show, swing by Booth #2776. We will have bandaids and extra masks, just in case.
Tips for Cosplayers
The needs of a cosplayer are different than that of an exhibitor or professional attending. I’ve been on and off the con floor and have picked up a few things I now include in the emergency kit. It’s good to be prepared for anything, and wardrobe malfunctions in front of thousands of people should be one of them.
1. Nail Glue
I panicked when a pair of boots started with a break while attending BookCon a few years back. I couldn’t walk around to do interviews with a sole flopping around. I did have my trusty nail glue because I wear press-ons. This bottle saved my feet and my day. The amount of power this nail glue has is unmatched, and I stand by that.
2. Saftey Pins
A travel set of safety pins could be the difference between an embarrassing situation and salvation. A few pins can be just what you need to stay together for the rest of the day or if the con you are attending has a cosplay care spot. A quick fix to an outfit you dreamt about can turn the day around.
3. Comfy Shoes
Having an easy and comfy pair of shoes to change into is critical. I was in four-inch heels at the booth last year and was ready to yeet myelf into the Hudson after almost ten hours in them. There was no way I could walk all the way out of the convention center or go to dinner in them. I always pack my trusty and compact pair of Converse. And since they come in a million colors, you can match them to your cosplay.
Tips for Attendees
All of the above can also be helpful, but here are a few extra items to consider when you pack your bag for the day. I suggest wearing something comfortable to walk through a huge convention center. You could be standing, sitting, and waiting at any time throughout the day. You’ll also want to consider carrying these items to make the experience as stress-free as possible.
1. Refillable Water Bottle
Most cons will let you enter with an empty water bottle. There are usually several stations throughout the building and floors where you can refill with crisp and cool H2O. Not only does this keep you hydrated, but it saves you money from having to grab a plastic bottle at an extravagant price. I like this one because it’s slim and leak-proof, very important factors when you need to maximize space.
2. Extra Tote Bags
I always recommend bringing an extra bag or two if you plan on shopping. This way, you don’t have to purchase one while there. And you save the vendors from using their bags which might be in low supply the longer the weekend goes on.
There will inevitably be a point during the convention where all the vendors have their Apple Pay, PayPal, and Venmo go down. It’s happened at every con I’ve ever been to. On Saturday, when the building is at peak capacity, cell phones and card reader connections are MIA. You can avoid waiting and getting your precious goods faster by using cash. Cash is also a great way to get on your budget because, let’s be honest, it’s hard to have self-control when there is so much cool stuff to buy. I recommend an handy card and cash carrier that clips to your lanyard.
Tips for Exhibitors/Guests
It’s a long haul over four days. The best advice I have is to make it as pleasant as possible. There are things I didn’t think to have that are now standard issue on my list. Everything I listed above I have when heading into a con weekend, but the next few are what I need as an exhibitor.
1. Hand Sanitizer
Pre-COVID, there was the running joke of getting “con crud” after the show. This is the very common cold that many people get after exhausting days shaking hands, handling cards/money and going to many events. Everyone gets it a least once in their comic con career. Regular use of hand sanitizer throughout the day has helped us kill at least some of those germs. Keeping a big bottle at the table is also good practice for you and your customers.
The opportunities to get away to eat are few and far between unless you have a lot of people working a booth. Having easy-to-eat snacks that aren’t messy is essential. I’m a big fan of Pocket Latte as an afternoon pick-me-up. This is an excellent alternative if you can’t get a coffee or Red Bull. I’ve become a bit obsessed with Youtopia’s Honey Mustard trail mix, and it’s usually in my purse. Don’t forget to pack whatever you like; save money instead of getting the very expensive center sandwich.
3. Power Bank
I rarely leave the house without my BioLite charger. I highly recommend this or any power bank for all con-goers. While this model is heavy, it’s incredibly sleek and will last days without my needing to charge. Just what you need when charging phones, iPads, and everything in between. You can refuel two devices simultaneously, which is great if you run multiple items at your booth. BioLite does offer a 40PD and 20PD version, but I stand by my 80PD.