Convention tip #8: The basics of bags

Everything you need, at the tip of your fingers…

At a convention like Celebration, held in an area where everything is so spread out with limited transportation options, many folks will be carrying a lot of stuff with them. I generally recommend choosing a messenger bag instead of a backpack, if only because it’s easier to keep track of, be aware of, and get into while you’re on the go. AND it won’t get your back all sweaty when you’re outdoors.

However, no matter what you choose, don’t forget that it takes up space, and things do get rather crowded at cons:

Erika: “If it’s a backpack or a messenger bag crammed to bursting, be courteous: when you turn, so does the extra two feet sticking out of your back or side. Anyone behind you has minimal warning before you rudely hit them with your precious, but weighty con swag as they ogle the booth next to you. Everyone loves goodies, but a little self awareness never hurt anyone. I’ve been hit so many times with backpacks at conventions and fallen into displays and other fans that I really can’t stand them. I do understand the desire to bring one, though.”

James: “Definitely be aware of your bag-bulk when turning. I’ve seen quite a few people get whapped by over-extended cabooses, er.. backpacks. If you’re trying to fit through a tight space, such as when cutting through a line of people, don’t turn suddenly.”

And exercise caution! You don’t want to lose anything: “Keep them zipped up! you don’t want your water, camera, or giant pile of pens to fall out. don’t keep anything valuable in outer pockets that you can’t see (again, another reason for a messenger bag where you keep it on you side, under control of your arm, instead of on your back, where you can’t see thieving fingers.)”

As for what goes in the bag, other than the obvious?

  • Protective items for collectibles, whatever you plan to buy. Obviously a poster tube is too big, but a solid-sided folder or filer would protect smaller items like autographs or comic books. That example is on the larger side, but you can find something smaller and just as sturdy in any office supply store.
  • Hand sanitizer, to help prevent the spread of con crud. (More on that later.)
  • Basic snacks. (Beth: “Granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, what ever you like. Helps get one through times when you are waiting in a long line and cannot get to a food vendor.”)
  • A refillable water bottle – the ones that have the built-in filters are good and easy to find these days.
  • Breath mints or gum: The stronger the better. Altoids are best. Yes, they’re selling some knock-offs in the store, but trust me: Altoids.
  • Basic medical supplies. Aspirin/ibuprofen, allergy pills, and of course prescriptions and anything else you use regularly. (Get a small pill case and put several in one.) A couple of band-aids. Throw them all in a little bag or side pocket and hope you won’t have to use them, but you’ll be grateful if you do.
  • Extra battery, cell phone charger, etc.

8 thoughts on “Convention tip #8: The basics of bags

  1. Nancy

    If you’re thinking of buying posters, a yoga mat strap works as an impromptu tube carrier. Slung properly, the tube is along your back and won’t thwap people.

  2. Lane

    Yes, yes, yes on the water bottle. If you’re at a con and feeling unwell/sluggish, there’s a good chance that you either haven’t eaten enough or (more likely) haven’t consumed enough water that day.

  3. Asha

    Altoids are crap. Unless we, in Canada, get a incredibly weak version of Altoids, they are crap. Frisk mints are the tactical nuclear weapon of the mints. Personally, I Clorets gum.
    Also everything else described is in my backpack almost all the time.

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