10. Chip Clip Holder- Ah the tool of housewives and campers everywhere. Say you're at a convention with a fabulous supermarket nearby, like a Wegman's for instance. (Yay, Balticon). Well, most of your snacking needs can be satisfied right there. No need to pay for a tiny bag of chips in a pricey hotel cafe or vending machine, you can get the extra large family-sized bag for you and the seven folk sharing your room (those days are gone for me btw). Making sure that bulk bags are secured for freshness goes a long way, especially at 2 in the morning when you need something extra to get you through the Anime or Hentai or Yaoi marathon. Chip clips also work wonders for securing bread, chocolates and bags of cookies.
9. A Lanyard- Now depending on the convention, it's budget and artistic creativity, you may or may not find a lanyard in your bag, but I mention this because, I dislike pinning anything to myself and for some reason I am needle bait. But a lanyard *especially* when or if it is attached to a badge holder can come in handy because it can not only hold con name tags, but one credit card and a driver's licence (needed to make quick purchases. Note, you never want to over load it though.) Either way, lanyard's don't draw blood.
8. Belly Tamers- No I am not talking about corsets, girdles or even belts. I'm talking about something that if you should certainly bring if you are unlucky or not wealthy enough to have your own single room at a con. Even if you don't spend the entire convention eating at restaurants, scarfing down carbonated stimulants, sugary or salty snacks, greasy take out or buffets at the hotel restaurants, there comes a time when the body expands. Now, in hotel rooms, there are NO guarantees regarding fans in the bathroom and unless you are reeeaaaly close with your friends (as in they talk about you to your face as well as behind your back) or you carry air freshener with you at all times, then you don't want to be the one that nuked the bowl. Running a shower might help, but ...no fan. A lot of folk, subconsciously or no, tend to hold it or wait till everyone has left the room and this too causes problems. Sometimes folk don't crap for days, but as everyone knows Slim Jims, Jim Beam, Gatorade and Carryout does not make for a happy tummy.
7. Deodorant- Now I have no idea how things work at romance, horror or gaming conventions, but of the many other types of cons that I attend this is a must, not just for self but hell to pass out to folk, because I swear, tons of folk forget it and sitting in panels with con funk wafting through the air isn't fun for anyone. I could add handy wipes to this point, but it would just be redundant.
6. A Cooler- No a convention isn't a tail gate party, and you don't have to bring the extra long family sized one. But if you don't plan for your meals, you too may end up spending valuable money (which could be spent in the dealer's room) on sustenance that is pricey and usually from a restaurant with hours that are not convenient for your planned con activities. They give you ice, so use it for lunch meat, fixings, cold salads and of course, Alcohol! If you bring too much, you can always feed someone who spent all their money...in the dealers room!
5. A Water Bottle- This is an important item that should always be brought with you to a convention. As someone who has worked many conventions, I can't tell you how many folk pass out due to dehydration. If a con is worth its chops, then they will have water stations available and they should be used. Um, and then there is alcohol. Conceal and carry is the best way for alcoholics to roll and unless you're some one who can't handle their liquor, then a water bottle is a must! Amateurs please ignore the former statement as I don't want you ruining it for me thank you.
4. Snore Strips, Ear Plugs and a Sleep Mask- Oh but this is three things rather than one, however they all serve the same purpose and that is why I lump them together, because they all address the problem of successful sleep in a room that you have decided to share with others to keep down con costs and if one of those fails, then...so might your sanity and friendship. Using myself as a humble example, I will confess that I am a complete Bear, that enjoys watching NASCAR or Monster Truck Jam when folk like to sleep, I snore when I do sleep and when I wake up it's freakishly early. To my utter shame, I must carry snore strips, but for you folk out there who believe you are sooo sensitive when it comes to your sleep, bring your ear plugs and sleep masks, I don't know if it helps but as I can sleep during a Heavy Metal concert, I would advise it if you would like to share a room and have more money to spend in the dealer's room.
3. A Smart Phone- In this day and age with the invention of the mini-computer, this is a must. Not only for discreetly contacting/locating friends, but for on the minute updating, a solution to boredom, a way to locate resources and to actually research your panelists' latest projects before you ask them questions that they may smirk at. Depending on your apps, you can use it to take notes, record, control your con schedule and keep up to date with your game of Pocket Frogs...Did I mention that your GPS feature can get you to and from the con with no fuss as well. I love my phone more and more every day...oh and please bring the charger.
2. A Light-Weight Backpack or Reusable Shopping Bag- I am not just mentioning this because of my dealer room obsession, but because there are always things to pick up at cons: flyers, promo items, water bottles, sketch pads, IPad etc. This bag however is meant to be light though. The concept being that you will go through all the items and empty it upon arrival back in the room while watching NASCAR. I bought a light weight cotton back back with cords for easy toting from panel to panel. However, yeah ole' Wegman's bag is also a handy alternative to the plastic shopping bags vendors give you with plushies, books, clothing or your latest board game acquisition. Finally, it helps the environment too!
1. Your Business Card- Here's the thing: I don't care if you work at a car garage or a comic book shop, you can be a IRS accountant or just a pest removal expert, bring your business card. Don't have one, then get some made. I'm not saying that this happens at every con, but folk are either waaay too tired or drunk or both, to remember folk who could very well be very lucrative contacts. So what you're not an artist, writer, filmmaker or whatever profession that is glorified at said convention, bring a business card. Hand them out and collect them in turn in the above mentioned type of sack. When you get back to your room, sober up or even after the con, you will remember that person that gave it to you and I don't give a shit if you are a best selling author, accomplished painter or acting in a cool sci fi film, knowing a mechanic that maybe local could come in handy. For me, meeting a seamstress that works with brass and leather...priceless, especially because they had a superb recommendation for mead.