Keeping organized: the convention-goers edition

With Gen Con less than a week away, it’s the perfect time to think about how to keep organized when going to a convention. There’s always so much going on at conventions, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with everything. Hopefully these tips will help keep all you convention-goers organized at your next convention!

There are two big areas of organization when it comes to con-going: packing before the con and finding what you want when you get there. This post focuses on how I manage to keep myself organized when going to a convention, especially a big one like Gen Con.

Keeping organized when it comes to packing

First things first: a packing list is essential to making sure you’ve got everything you need for a convention. I actually started my Gen Con packing list last week, even though the convention’s next week. Starting that packing list early gives you the chance to add things to it as you think of them. Believe me, there’ll be lots on that list. I also make sub-lists for each cosplay I’m doing, to help make sure I don’t forget any costume pieces.

Keeping organized, the convention-goers edition: Notebook open to a packing list for Gen Con,.
Can’t forget the important stuff: dice, stickers, and business cards. Well, and everything else on the list.

Bringing a backpack along is a good idea, although make sure it’s not so large that you knock people out with it. Your most important or frequently needed items will likely end up in your backpack. Some suggestions of what to pack in your backpack include:

  • A water bottle, as it’ll cheaper to refill instead of buying drinks from food vendors
  • Snacks, to help keep you going between meals
  • Painkillers of some sort, like Tylenol or Advil (which will help with any headaches or sore muscles from walking so much)
  • Backup battery for your cellphone, or a spare charger
  • Money, kept in a safe place
  • Hand sanitizer, to help keep con crud at bay

Keeping track of events and vendors

Figuring out where I need to be and what vendors I want to check out is also important. Using a calendaring app, like Google Calendar, keeps me organized on the event side of things. As I register for events, I put them in my schedule, and then I can schedule meetups with friends around my registered events.

Keeping organized, the convention-goers edition: Screenshot of my Google Calendar for Gen Con 2019 - there's only four events in it.
My schedule this year is a bit calmer than last year’s – I’m only helping run one LARP this year!

It’s also handy to plan out what vendors you really want to visit ahead of time, so you can check them out first in the dealer’s hall. If there’s a map of the dealer’s hall on the con’s website, that’s even better! Print it out and mark it up with where you want to go ahead of time, so you’re not lost in the sea of people trying to buy things. For example, I already know I want to hunt down Dryad Tea (for their limited edition Gen Con tea!), Jeph Jacques’ booth (I love his webcomic, Questionable Content), and the Green Ronin booth (there are Blue Rose books I need to buy!). I’ll be hunting them down on the dealer’s hall map tonight and marking them out so I can find my way to them quickly.

And that’s how I keep organized at conventions: keep track of everything in my calendar, write up a packing list well in advance, and make note of what vendors I want to check out! Hopefully this helps other convention-goers keep organized as you prep for conventions, whether it’s Gen Con or something else! Speaking of Gen Con: stay tuned for plenty of Gen Con coverage over the next week and a half!

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