4 (Surprising?)Things to Take to a Convention

If you know me at all, you’ll know I like to be organised and prepared. I like to have a plan. This is as true in gaming as it is real life.


I recently booked tickets to UK Games Expo—the first large con I’ll be attending for quite some time. I immediately started a list of things to do (get new business cards with my new job title, plan meetings with freelancers I’ve never met before, plot the seminars I’ll be attending and so on).

My thoughts have also turned to what to take with me. Some stuff is blindingly obvious—dice, a pencil and so on—but other stuff is perhaps less obvious. Essentially, I want to have as much time as possible at the con meeting people, having fun, savaging the dealers’ hall and so on as possible. I don’t want to waste time queuing for food, wandering about trying to find a plug point and so on.

Here’s a brief rundown of some (perhaps) surprising things I’ll be taking with me to remove as much of the hassle from wandering the convention as possible.

Merino Wool Socks

Merino wool socks are awesome. Merino wool naturally wicks away moisture from your body (so they don’t get sticky), doesn’t smell and is way better than cotton at regulating your temperature.

If you’ve spent any time at conventions you’ll know that after the first few days things can get rather ripe. Of course, you should shower and perform basic personal hygiene, but merino wool socks are a great way of battling con funk.

Darn Tough is my favourite brand of merino wool socks. Even better, they offer a lifetime money back guarantee on all their socks. If they get ripped or worn out, simply return them for a new pair. How awesome is that?

Merino Wool Clothes

(See Merino Wool Socks, above.) Merino wool t-shirts and so on are awesome. There is no other word to describe them (except expensive). Again, merino wool dries insanely quickly, doesn’t require ironing and is crazy light.

TAD Gear is my favourite brand for merino wool clothes, but I’m also a fan of Icebreaker.

Portable Battery

The last time I went to a convention, iPads were a rarity. I suspect, this time around almost everyone will be clutching one—there is no better way to transport all your character sheets, books, reference manuals and so on.

The downside is battery life. If you play a couple of four- or five-hour games and your character is on your tablet you run the risk of killing the battery. Taking a portable battery (and the relevant cables) means you are virtually immune to the nightmare of a dead battery.

I’ve got a couple of portable batteries, but the most powerful one is even capable of charging my laptop. That’s (probably) overkill for the convention but you can easily pick up small and lightweight batteries to charge your tablet.

Healthy(ish) Snacks

In the rush to get to the next game or seminar, I don’t want to neglect my unending health and vitality. Essentially, I don’t want to eat nothing but crap for three days. (Although I’m quite keen to eat some crap). So, I’m going to take with me a decent supply of healthy(ish) snacks. This will not only keep my lean, finely honed body in tip-top shape, but it will also save me some cash (which I can spend on healthy, life-affirming booze). I’ll be taking a mix of Clif Bars (marvellously some come with caffeine), beef jerky and fruit and nuts.

I’ll also be taking an insulated refillable drinks bottle (I’m a big fan of Klean Kanteen) so I can enjoy hot and cold drinks. Imagine the horror of being stuck in a five-hour game with a cold coffee.

No Affiliate Links

In case you were wondering, there are no affiliate links in this post. I get nothing for recommending these products/companies. Any specific product I mention above, I own and love.

What Do You Suggest?

What have I missed? Is there something beyond the norm I should take to the con? Let me know, in the comments below, and help me have a better time at UK Games Expo!


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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

10 thoughts on “4 (Surprising?)Things to Take to a Convention”

  1. Heh, is deodorant a surprising item 😉

    Have you done UKGE before, it’s good, although the meeting of the Women Freemasons society in the hotel round the corner was a very odd mix of black t-shirts and pensioners in ball gowns…

  2. Gaming conventions are one of those environments where the undead have particular advantages. No need to breathe, eat, or sleep top the list, and of course there’s always a ready supply of willing victims if you’re a vampire…

  3. wow… $20 USD for 1 pair of socks? $70 for a t-shirt… that more than expensive. I’m sure they are nice products though. You are right about the snacks though… Con food is so expensive too, and so rarely is there a place you can go (like a grocery store, or restaurant) to grab a quick bite. I like to buy a package of bagels (you get 6 in a pack), and then make 6 cheese sandwiches, put them back in the bag they came in and pop that in your backpack. So if there’s nothing there, or its too pricey, at least you’ll have some emergency food. May not fit with you healthy snack idea, but its food at least.

    1. They are expensive! But then, I only own two t-shirts (that aren’t running t-shirts) and a couple of long-sleeve t-shirts. The socks are expensive, but their life time guarantee means you never have to buy another pair!

      I like the cheese sandwich idea and I like bagels. I might steal that one!

  4. Some of the items I take to conventions include:
    Thin and light laptop containing all of my game books in .PDF format, gaming notes, theme music, etc.;
    UE Boom or UE Roll (great Bluetooth speakers) for playing theme music, if and when appropriate;
    Laminated note cards, possibly folded in half, to put in front of players to show important information like character name and class, hit points, temporary effects, etc.;
    Clear page protectors to store character sheets in, so I can make temporary changes and notes using wet erase markers;
    Hand sanitizer;
    Small packet of Kleenex (facial tissues);
    Advil (painkillers);
    Benadryl (antihistamine);
    Pepto-Bismol and/or Immodium tablets (stomach and digestive problems);
    Sunscreen and maybe a hat if we might be outdoors a lot;
    Snacks, possibly some for sharing;
    Bottled water;
    More bottled water

    1. Thank you for the comprehensive list, Eric! I like the addition of bottled water twice. It’s easy to forget how dehydrating a conversation can be–particularly if all you are drinking is coffee, coke and beer!

  5. I always keep a 1/4 roll of toilet paper in my backpack when I’m at GenCon. Laugh if you wish, but for a couple years the convention center didn’t quite understand what 45k men did to their bathrooms . . . .

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