In the past, navigating conventions was a breeze. Before, I was wearing intense cosplays and wearing heels to Mega-Con four days in a row and I had no issue making my way through the hall or standing in line to meet my favorite comic book artist. That all changed when I became chronically ill.
Following Mega-Con 2017, I ended up with pneumonia and realized my previous methods just wouldn’t cut it anymore. Last year I decided to use my wheelchair the entire duration of the con. This was actually a really hard decision for me, but one that was well worth it.
This year, my stamina was much better and I felt confident taking on NC COMICON alone, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t channel my favorite member of the Justice League and over-prepare. If Batman can beat Superman and Selma Blair can work the red carpet of the Oscars in the middle of an MS flare-up, then I can tackle two days at a convention.
However, every great superhero has their gadgets, Batman has baterangs, Green Lantern has his ring, and Selma had her cane. Here is what I brought:
- Cell phone
- Charger, and power bank
- Sharpies and pens
- Reusable tote bag
- Comic books and trade issues to be signed by creators
- Gluten-free snacks—I have an intolerance.
- Pedialyte Powder Packs
- Water bottle
- Purell wipes
- Moist towelettes
- Thermometer and probe covers—I am susceptible to temperature changes and hot flashes due to my condition
- Small first aid kit with bandaids
- Heat and Cooling skin sticks for hot flashes and/or fevers
- Eyeglass cleaner
- Pepto Bismol to-go
- Various prescriptions
- Slap Koozie for cold drinks—the joints in my hands cannot hold cold items for a long period of time without pain
- Hand sanitizer—a lot of hand sanitizer
- Over-the-counter pain medicine
Additionally, since I was covering the convention for this site, I brought my iPad and its Bluetooth keyboard and stored all of it in my giant Jansport backpack. I used makeup bags to keep everything in its own pouch and better organized. While all of this is a tad heavy, I would rather keep a tight schedule and have set breaks than not have something I might need since I wasn’t close to home.
Even though I have delved into cosplaying, I know that realistically it is not an option anymore for me. Now since my conditions revolve around a fair amount of chronic pain and sensitivity, I tend to gravitate toward a comfy style. I rocked leggings and tennis shoes both days of the convention but have learned it is important to have pockets which is why for day one I have both a jacket and denim shirt with pockets. Then, day two I went with a giant sweater, also with pockets.
Having pockets means I don’t have to take my backpack on and off as much which means I can avoid straining my back thus saving the spoons I do have on covering the convention.
In regards to schedule, I plan out my day in advance. I highlight the panels I want to go to and plan to try to see creators in between those panel times. I’ve also learned to plan multiple times to see people in case there are long lines, I am feeling unwell, or they are not at their table.
In addition to scheduling in time to see panels and creators, as I mentioned before, I schedule in breaks. Luckily, NC COMICON had wi-fi, so this worked as a fantastic time for me to use my iPad to better flesh out my notes and get started on articles. Since a lot of my conditions cause brain fog, a big fear I had covering the convention was forgetting what I just heard or not understanding the gaps in my notes. Writing during the con helped alleviate a lot of this stress.
Every year and every convention I learn something new and get better at both condensing and perfecting my packing list.
What do you bring to conventions? Is there anything I forgot? Tell me in the comments below.