Con packing can be as easy as throwing your favorite geeky t-shirts, convention passes, travel documents, toiletries, and any cash you think you might need into a bag and walking out the door.
If you're a cosplayer, it gets a little more complicated.
If you even have a hope of eating healthy and on a budget, then it's harder still. Sure you're walking around all day, but if you don't want to pack on the pounds or destroy any weight loss progress you've made beforehand, then you are going to want to plan ahead in some capacity.
Let's be honest, con food is hardly ever nutritious and the inflated prices at most convention centers are enough to make me cringe. Personally, I'd rather splurge on one meal a day (usually dinner) and save the rest of my hard earned money (that I haven't spent on assembling/crafting my cosplay!) for the dealers' room. So after three years of experience attending New York Comic Con, PAX East, BlizzCon, etc. and now viewing these events through the eyes of a health conscious cosplayer, here are my tips to help you prepare for successful con.
If you are cosplaying, do your final fitting and test run for your costume. Make sure everything fits and you can move well over an extended period of time without the whole thing falling apart. Then, as you remove your costume, carefully pack it up into your suitcase piece by piece so that you won't forget anything. After all, you just had the whole thing on so you'll be able to keep all the pieces in one place as you remove them.
Put all the little details, bits, and pieces into a giant bag so they don't get lost in the bottom of your suitcase. Nothing is worse then trying to get ready, freaking out because you forgot something, and then finding out sometime during your stay that you had it the whole time.
Make sure nothing is going to bend or break and that everything is cushioned and in place for the journey. You can lay down a layer of plastic bags to separate your costume from the rest of your stuff if you're afraid of anything ruining it.
Try to get your cosplay finished as early as possible. Set an actual deadline a few days in advance of when you leave to have it finished. That way if there are any emergencies, you can get them fixed in time. It's not a perfect science but it's well worth the effort!
Add in any hair products, styling brushes, etc. that you might need to touch up your 'do.
Make a bag of make-up, SFX accessories you're going to need for your costume, con wear, or party attire. That way it's all in one place and you won't have to go searching your apartment at the last minute for that special blue mascara you bought JUST for this costume.
Make an small emergency kit with scissors, a super glue stick, needle, and thread to carry around with you at the convention. If you have armor of some kind, duct tape is great to keep on you as well. If something breaks, you can fix it up right away and keep enjoying the con without skipping a beat. I also keep a phone charger with me since my phone is my camera and I want to be able to use it all day for photos and finding friends around the con. It's up to you to decide what you specifically need. For instance, in my test runs for Rainbow Dash, I noticed that the white cloud details on my shoes had a tendency to come loose, so I also packed a few extra clouds and the cloud fabric so I could tend to them on the fly or back in the hotel room at night if something really went awry.
Make a list of anything you can't include in your bag till the morning you leave (phone, iPad, keys, chargers, toothbrush, hairdryer, etc.) and leave that list next to your bag. You can check it before you walk out the door to make sure you didn't miss anything important because you were in a rush.
If you are planning to work out at all during your stay at the convention, then set yourself up for success. Look at the weather. Make sure you're going to be warm if you're going for a morning run. See if your hotel has a gym. Make a plan. If you look into this stuff ahead of time, you're more likely to follow through. Pack up all your appropriate gear once you know what you're goals are. For PAX East, mine is to go for a run Friday morning. I know it will be hard to muster the willpower, but I'm gonna make it happen and once it's done, it will be out of the way!
Make a plan for what you're going to eat. I'm on a tight budget so for PAX East, I decided I'd have one meal "out" a day. The rest I'd be bringing from home and taking with me to the con each morning. I packed a small baggie for each day with a breakfast bar/muffin, some Truvia for my coffee or tea (which I plan to buy each morning in the lobby of my hotel), a morning snack of cashews, an appropriately sized granola bar with high fiber and low sodium for lunch, and an afternoon snack of 1 oz dried cranberries/raisins. That should get me through each day with enough energy until I get to dinner time. Check out the restaurants in the area you're visiting and see if they have menus online. Try to choose what you're going to have ahead of time so that you're not hung out to dry and susceptible to temptation. Be in control. Again, the more you plan, the more likely it is that you will stick to it. I cannot emphasize that enough. You will always make better choices ahead of time than you will in the heat of the moment when you're exhausted from walking around the con and a bacon cheeseburger sounds like just what the doctor ordered.
Have a budget. You've shelled out the money for travel, hotel, and con passes. Think realistically about how much money you will have to spend at the con on food/fun souvenirs and stick to the parameters you set ahead of time when you're in your right mind. Every time I don't do this, I'm really excited about all my new shinies until the moment I check my bank account on Monday and cry.
See if the convention has an app that lets you create your own schedule of events, panels, and guest appearances. This way you can plan for what you want to do, who you want to see, and even figure when you might have time to eat the food you packed along the way if that helps you with your planning. You won't want to find out later that you missed a panel with someone you really wanted to see!
Last, assemble any passes, after party tickets, hotel confirmations, and travel documents so you can have them all in one place. Like everything else, I like to keep them in their own plastic bag.
These are just my tips based on how I prepared for my trip to PAX East this year. I'm really excited to attend the convention with all my friends and premiere my Rainbow Dash costume after losing over 90 lbs. It's been a long journey to get to this point, and there's more work on the horizon, but this will be a weekend to celebrate how far I've come will all the choices I've been making to pick new stats and slay the fat!
I certainly do feel a little anxiety when it comes to eating healthy at our dinners out each night, but I really feel like I've given myself the best chance to succeed that I can. I'll let you know how it all goes when I get back! If you have any tips you swear by when it comes to prepping for conventions, leave them in the comments!