Convention season is in full swing, and every year there are people who venture into the wide world of cons for the first time. If you’re going to your first con this year, take a lesson from some experienced con-goers with these convention must-haves!

Comic conventions can be intimidating, overwhelming, but also super exciting. The show floor is usually packed with people, vendor tables that make you do double takes while looking at merch, independent artists that make you stop in your tracks to admire their talent, and incredible displays. If you’ve never attended a convention before it can be a surprise to find how busy it is and realize that you should have brought a bunch of things to make your time there easier and more enjoyable. Be sure not to leave home without these handy items!

comic con outfit

1. Portable Battery Charger

Having a portable battery pack is a game changer if you’re planning to spend the entire day at a convention. Outlets will be difficult to find (and even if you do, they’re often always occupied) so having your own power source is a boon. There are also often so many people trying to log onto the wifi or regular phone signal that your device may spend a lot of battery power doing simple things, so having a backup will give you the added security of an all-day charge.

2. A Second Pair of Shoes

If you’re spending more than one day at the con, trade your shoes every day so that each pair can rest and recover on your off day. The soles of your shoes and your feet will thank you!

3. Bandaids

Blisters happen. Don’t let them ruin your con experience. And being the one in your group that has bandaids will make you the biggest superhero in the room.

convention 1

4. Snacks AND a Water Bottle

Most conventions will have food and drinks available on site for purchase. But the food and drinks will be overpriced, usually really unhealthy (and you want to avoid a sugar crash), and the line ups will be huge. Having snacks on hand and a water bottle to refill at the water fountains in the building will save you! You can avoid being hangry until you head outside of the building and find a suitable place to eat.

5. Camera

This would be either your own DSLR, point and shoot, or your cell phone camera. Just make sure it works, you have plenty of storage for photos and a full battery! The cosplays and displays will have you kicking yourself that you didn’t have a camera on hand.

6. Reusable Shopping Bag

A lot of the large vendors at the conventions will have shopping bags for you, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve purchased from an independent artist, grabbed all the freebies the show’s handing out, or just bought too many blind boxes and I can barely carry everything. Having a light canvas tote that you can throw inside your purse or backpack will save you in those situations.

convention 2

7. Hand Sanitizer

Lots of people equal lots of germs. Hand sanitizer is a must! Before you pull out those almonds in your bag or touch up your makeup, find that little bottle of hand sanitizer! Con crud is real.

8. Cosplay 911 (small repair kit)

If you’re going in for cosplay, or if your friends are, be sure to tuck a few safety pins, tape, and maybe even needle and thread into a little bag or pocket that’s easily accessible. Sometimes rips and tears happen despite our best efforts and a quick fix on the go can alleviate a ton of stress!

9. A Patient and Friendly Attitude

The show floor can be extremely busy or you could end up behind someone with a baby stroller or a small child. Being patient getting through crowds or waiting in large line ups is a necessity. If you get impatient easily, be prepared to feel frustrated for a good part of you con experience.

10. A Game Plan (but also a plan B and C and maybe even plan F)

Flexibility is the biggest advantage you can give yourself going into a convention, especially if it’s your first con experience. If you’re open and willing to go with the flow a little (or at least to have a third panel option if you can’t get into that one room), then you’ll find all kinds of gems. Even at San Diego Comic-Con, if you can’t (or don’t want to wait all day to) get into Hall H, there are MANY other panels and amazing talks to attend. Most conventions have a wide range of choices, so don’t feel like you’re “missing out” if you didn’t get your first choice. There’s always something fun to do!

Are you heading to a con this season? If you’re a comic convention vet, what did you wish you’d packed for your first con? Share in the comments below! If you are looking for cons in your area, you can check out Eventbrite to find them or even organize a convention of your own.