Con Survival Guide: Day Tripping

Welcome to the start of my Con Survival Guide series. I’ve been going to conventions for over 10 years and have learned a thing or two about how to approach them. As you probably know, conventions are tons of fun but they do require some planning. My goal with this series is to help you make your convention experience as fun and easy as possible. So let’s jump right in!

First lets talk about going for a day trip to a convention. The type of events I might day trip for include local events (that I’m not staying at a hotel for) as well as any events that are a couple hours away that I’m going to for just the one day. Since I’m only going for the day I have to think through everything I might need, how I’m carrying or storing it, and how long I’ll be at the con vs traveling. For me this is a slightly different approach to how I do events that I have a room for since I can’t just stash things whenever I want or even change costumes whenever I want. When I go to plan for day trips I look at everything in 5 “main” categories.

The Costume

First I start by thinking through what costume I want to wear and what all do I have to deal with for the costume. Some of the things I think about include:

  • Is there a wig?
  • Do I have any props I have to carry or keep up with?
  • Is there any special effects makeup to deal with?
  • Does the costume hinder my movement in any way?
  • Is it hot?
  • Is it cold?
  • Does it have pockets or will I need a bag for my things?
  • How easy is it to eat in?
  • How easy is it to go to the bathroom in?
  • How easy is it to sit or stand in?

I will pick different costumes to wear for a day trip vs a weekend trip based on all of these factors. For me, a day trip costume should be fairly comfortable and easy to move in. That includes sitting, eating, and taking bathroom breaks in. If the costume is something I would need a place outside of the main con areas to get into or out of it’s not good for a day trip. If the costume requires additional help to get into or out of it’s not good for a day trip. 

Packing and the Essential Items

Now that you know your costume let’s think about what other items you might need. These will change depending on your needs but I highly recommend bringing the following things (they’re my essentials):

  • Phone and phone charger (either a wall charger or battery pack)
  • Wallet with your ID and money
  • Id card holder for your con badge (especially if you’re like me and you hate lanyards) or a lanyard if you prefer decorative ones
  • Advil or whatever pain killer you prefer
  • Any medication you might need. I have asthma so I always bring my inhaler and have it on my at all times.

If you know that there are certain parts of your costume that you can only wear for so long it’s a good idea to bring a backup. For example my Honey Lemon costume is great for a day trip since it’s comfortable and easy to move in, however the screen accurate heels can be a challenge for more than 5 hours. So when I wear her I make sure to bring a backup pair of flats to switch too once I’ve hit my limit with the heels. Depending on your needs for a costume you might want a full change of clothes to switch to when you’ve hit your limit.

Repair Kit

On top of the base essential items for yourself, you need to think about what you might need for your costume. I carry a custom made repair kit with me that’s filled with specific items I might need for the specific costume I’m wearing. This covers my costume as well as my makeup.

Some of the items I bring for my costumes include:

  • Safety pins
  • Needle and thread
  • Scissors
  • Extra snaps or buttons
  • Glue of some kind. I generally bring a tiny tube of E6000 or super glue.

Some of the items I bring for my wigs/makeup include:

  • Wig brush
  • Bobby pins
  • Lipstick
  • Powder
  • Eyeliner
  • If the costume requires any special effects makeup I bring that along with me in case I need to do any touch ups.

Eating

Probably the biggest need I focus on for the day is eating and drinking because staying fed and hydrated is super important. If you forget about this you will quickly find yourself miserable and hangry in a crowd of people. Now one wants that to happen, trust me.

Some things to consider are:

  • What food options are at the event?
  • Is there a food court or any restaurants in walking distance?
  • What is your budget for food? If you don’t mind paying $15 a meal then go with the nearby food options. If you’d like to try and save some money think about packing up a cooler with sandwiches and snacks.

Personally, I recommend bringing snacks no matter what. Some small items that are easy to eat and won’t be a danger to your costume are a must. The worst thing is to have your blood sugar crash on you in the middle of the con floor or during a photoshoot. This is extra important if you have any medical issues. Remember that your health always comes first so take care of yourself.

Also, bring a water bottle! Drink from it often and always keep it full. Hydration is super important and doubly so if you’re in a hot or bulky costume. Dehydration is an issue and it can cause a lot of problems for you so just do yourself a favor and become close personal friends with your water bottle during the day.

Travel

Okay. Now that I have everything picked out, gathered up, and packed, I have to think about how I’m getting to and from the event. For day trips I normally drive. So that means I have to think about what time I want to get there to make sure I have prime parking (or can even park at all). Then I have to think about what time I want to leave. This makes a big difference in how I plan my day at the event.

Driving in can be really nice because it means you can keep stuff in your car. So if you bring a cooler you can keep it in your car and just go out to get it when you want your food. Or if you want to bring a change of close in case of costume issues you can leave that in your car until it’s needed.

Sometimes you can get to an event using public transit. If that’s the case make sure you know the bus or train schedule as well as how much it will cost you. Make a game plan based around that since it will be different for every city. Also remember that if you take public transit you are stuck carrying anything you bring with you all day so plan wisely.

That’s a Wrap

Now the ver last thing to do is enjoy yourself! Remember to eat, drink water, and take plenty of breaks. But most of all have a TON of FUN. That’s what we do this for after all. 🙂

If you have any other tips or things you do for day tripping to cons share them in the comments. I love hearing how others plan for events.

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