PAX 2010: The Essentials
Posted on Tuesday, August 31 @ 16:12:55 Eastern by Blake_Morse
Buy the ticket, take the ride.
There's nothing worse than going on a trip, getting halfway to your destination, and then realizing you left something essential back at your domicile. It sucks balls to say the least. Now, this may come as a shock to some of you, but yours truly used to be a Boy Scout. Okay, I'll admit, not a very good one. But I took the “Be Prepared” motto to heart and as such I tend to be ready for most occasions. Now I'm passing along my tips for easy and compact travelling along to you in the hope that you will have the best time possible at PAX (or ComicCon, E3, Quakecon, etc...).
The Essentials - These are things that should be mandatory for you to bring not matter who you are. Do not travel without these. Not just for your sake but the sake of those around you.
Tickets: This goes for passes, plane tickets, and train boarding passes. To make sure you won't forget them, put them in your shoe or right below your house keys the night before you leave. It's the best way to make sure you have them in hand.
Extra room in your luggage: You're going to a convention, so let there be no doubt in your mind that you will end up with more swag either for yourself, your friends, or your loyal followers who you know what to do with, so make sure you have enough space to get it all back. I use a U.S. military surplus duffle bag to get around when I'm on the road. They're cheap (about $25 max) and made to be durable. Usually I can fit all my gear into one and still have over half a bag left to fill up.
A day bag: No matter what you're doing you're going to have to keep your stuff somewhere while traversing the show floor. A smaller backpack or messenger bag will usually do the trick.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, breathmints: Hygiene is important. The hotel or the friend whose couch you're staying on will usually provide towels, shampoo, conditioner, and q-tips, but the rest is up to you. Keep the mints or some gum on you throughout the day to freshen up after ingesting horrible convention food, like chili cheese fries or onion rings.
Deodorant: Yeah, I could've lumped this in with the oral stuff, but Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ on a Pogo Stick, do you ****ing nerds smell! I don't know what it is, but for some reason a majority of you think it's totally cool to not use this junk. NO! Put it on right ****ing now, goddammit! No one wants to smell your dungeon ass stank! NO ONE! Do this not only for yourself, but for everyone else attending the expo or elsewhere.
Sunscreen: I've driven up and down California more times than I can count and this is a MUST for traveling by car. You do not want to go through an entire con with a half-tan. Unless it goes with your cosplay outfit. In that case, enjoy the malignant melanoma.
Reading Material: For most of us, it takes a long time to get from where we live to where the action is taking place. A good book is the perfect way to kill time while in transit. As long as you're not behind the wheel. And don't be afraid to bring a stack of comics to share with everyone else you're pulling a Kerouac with. My recent travel reads include Slaughterhouse Five, Badass: A History of Badasses, Marvel's Earth X trilogy (very, very long graphic novels reallllly good for a loooong trip), various Batman trades, and I always keep a copy of Geek Love around just in case.
A laptop: Face facts. You're a nerd, do you really think you're gonna last long without the Internet? No matter what you're there for, business or pleasure, you're going to need it. At very least to check up on GR each day, right? I recommend a tiny, barebones Acer or Eee PC. They're inexpensive and small enough to fit in your day bag, just in case you need to live blog running into Will Wheaton on the show floor or update your Facebook with kittycat smiley faces and hearts.
Nerdy clothes: Nothing says “CONVENTIONEER!” more than a shirt with something nerdy or clever. I usually buy my T-shirts through shirt.woot.com. They're only $10, unless you want to pay an extra $5 to get it overnight. Their T-shirts are also only sold for one day long, which limits the odds that you'll run into someone else wearing them. Threadless is another great source for geek chic, but tends to be cost more.