Friday, June 22, 2012

San Diego Comic Con 2012 is coming: THE BACKPACK

It's almost that time again. A time of myth and legend. A time of the penultimate nerd prom. That's right, folks. I'm talking San Diego Comic Con!

This will be my third time attending SDCC. It should've been my fourth, but an accident (which caused me to have a permanent disability, by the way, because why screw up a little when you can screw up royally) in the weeks prior prevented my attendance in 2009.

My daughter will be coming with me this time. It's a sort of early 18th birthday gift to her. I'm hoping it won't be too overwhelming for her and that she'll have a fantastic time. *fingers crossed* Aside from Doctor Who, she's probably going to be most interested in the anime offerings. I, on the other hand, like roaming the floor and finding out about various comics, and like to camp out in panel rooms for tv shows and such. I'm excited to be able to bring her along, and share a Mom/Daughter adventure.

Since we're arriving a couple of days early, we've already made plans to go to some museums in the area, take in an amusement park, and other such tourist-y things.

I've not started actually packing, but I've been mentally packing for months! Packing clothes isn't too challenging for me, because I'm not a cosplayer. No, for me, it's all about the backpack. You know, the constant companion of the experienced convention attendee, packed with the necessities and the little things that can make or break your day. Below is a list of items I ALWAYS try to put into my con backpack:
  • Three ring binder with sheet protectors (great for keeping signed comics or photos from being crushed), a trading card sheet protector, and a pencil holder for three ring binders containing Sharpies in black, blue, red and silver, a couple of pens, and a small notebook and/or sketchbook (you never know when autograph, sketch or photo opportunities might crop up)
  • A sturdy container to keep snacks from getting crumbled (I recommend protein-rich snacks like peanut butter crackers or pepperoni sticks)
  • A bottle of water (you can refill the bottle easily enough at the con throughout the day)
  • Sunscreen (you'll be spending plenty of time outside in lines)
  • Personal products such as OTC pain reliever, mini first aid kit, mini sewing kit and some feminine hygiene products (even if I don't need these things, I can be someone else's hero for the day with these supplies on hand)
  • Travel-sized deodorant (just because you're among some "unwashed masses" doesn't mean you need to add to the stink factor) and a travel toothbrush and toothpaste and/or some mints/gum (you don't wanna be remembered as "that guy/gal with THE BREATH")
  • Tech necessities, including a power cord for your phone, extra batteries for your camera, extra memory card or film for your camera, and (if possible) an external power source - I love the ones made by New Trent
  • * "Business" cards with your photo, Twitter account, blog URL and other related info - great to hand out to the new friends you make as you wait in lines
Pack all of these things into the backpack you're considering taking with you to a convention, then put it on and walk around and stand around for a good while. Comfort is key when you're talking about long days spent at a convention, so make sure the weight is evenly distributed and well supported. Keep in mind this is what's in your pack BEFORE you make any purchases or start your free swag collection, so if it's already digging into your shoulders or otherwise super uncomfortable, it's definitely worth considering testing out other backpacks.

Speaking of swag and purchases, you may be leaving the convention with a LOT more "stuff" than you started with, and airlines tend to charge fees for extra bags and for overweight/oversize bags. So choose your purchases and free stuff wisely if you're planning on trying to shove it into your luggage. Another option is to ship your goodies home via Fed Ex or a comparable service. You may find that's a cheaper alternative to those baggage fees. It's usually a good idea to pack a sturdy empty duffel and an extra luggage tag if you think there's a chance you'll be buying lots of stuff or collecting lots of swag. It might be useful to get one of those little luggage scales, which could save you a little bit of hassle at the airport.

You may have noticed I didn't list money as a backpack item. There's a reason for that omission. I prefer to keep my funds on my person. I've seen, more than once, people who left their pack behind and were left with no money once the packs were recovered. There are some good options out there for travel-friendly money storage, and I suggest you consider them and see what works best for you. Yes, fanny packs may be less than attractive, but I care a lot more about not losing my wallet than I do about fashion!

If you're going to attend SDCC 2012, or any upcoming entertainment convention, I hope you'll find these suggestions useful.

*You may want to put a few of those "business" cards in the same thing you're using to hold your money in order to more easily access them.

What are some of your "must-haves" for attending a large event like SDCC?

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