Family Survival Essentials for a Convention

Family Survival Packing

Convention season is here which means there is a lot to get ready. I cosplay with a family so that means a lot more prep work and because I have a child that means I carry a lot more stuff. This also means that I have perfected con survival for me and my family.

Here is my con survival gear for a one day con:


Food at a convention is pretty expensive and when lunch time rolls around, everyone is standing in the food line. If you aren’t quick, then this means that you are waiting. You could be standing there from 10 minutes to an hour, and frequently when you get up there you find that what you wanted to eat is sold out. If you have children, you know that this isn’t going to cut it.

To avoid this I pack food. When my children were smaller it was several baggies of small food and smacks. I’d bring some nutrition bars, a bag of mixed nuts and dried fruit, some crackers and maybe some cereal. I also like to pack a few small oranges. They’d be packed in several small, single serve baggies. When someone got hungry I could easily pull one out and hand it over. I especially liked using the protein bars as they had the convenience of being lightweight, tasty and nutritious. If it was an all day con, and snacks weren’t going to cut it I liked to stop at the grocery store and grab some of the sandwiches from their deli. Unlike the sandwich shops, they are tightly wrapped, making them compact and they are not going to fall open in the con bag when I rummage around for something else.


Water is essential for everyone, and when you are walking around in a hot, heavy cosplay all day it is even more essential. The problem is that water bottles are big, bulky and heavy. If you want something to drink at the conventions, then you also have the same problem as with the food: expense and long lines.

I found these glasses full of wine in a little bin at the liquor store, they were single servings of wine. The wine was okay, but the plastic glasses are fantastic. They come with a lid that seals perfectly, I can put water in them, snap a lid on them and easily carry them to where ever my family is sitting without spilling them. I have been knocked into, flipped these cups over, or had to awkwardly juggle them with other things and they have never spilled a drop. If you’ve bring a water bottle, just fill the cups from it and you are good to go

If you run out of water, or don’t bring any it is usually pretty easy to find. Water fountains are by the bathrooms or there is frequently water available outside the panel rooms. If nothing else, straight from the bathroom faucet. And before you get on my case about ‘city bathroom water’ let me ask you, what do you think is coming from the water fountain? And where do you think they filled the water jugs at the panels with?

A way to improve the flavor of the water, if to take one of those oranges out of your bag, rinse it off then put the peel in your water bottle. The oils from the skin was flavor the water.


You are going to need these or your charging device. You will probably need them more than you realize. Whether it is your camera, your phone, the cooling device in your cosplay or something you brought along to entertain your child. Make sure to bring some way to replenish the juice in your devices. I like to keep two extra sets of batteries for everything that needs them

Hairbrush/Comb/Hair ties

This may not be an essential for everyone, but it is for me and probably most people with long hair. Everyone with long hair knows what I am talking about. Even if you keep this in the car for after the con, you are going to want one.

First Aid Kit

If you are a parent, you probably have at least a few bandages on you. I have always carried a small kit with me, and I have had to use it or at least its components more than once. I use an Altoids container as they are small, close tightly and can carry almost everything I need.

The essentials inside my kit are:

  • Bandages in various sizes – A small bandage will instantly make a little kid feel better. Bandages are also great for that piece of costume that rubs, or as an emergency repair when something tears.
  • Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Acetaminophen – I carry all three because someone is going to have a headache and only one will work for that person. Aspirin is also a great thing to have on hand for heart attacks.
  • Antihistimine – I frequently need these in the spring and fall, it’s also been a lifesaver for friends
  • Panty Liners or small pad – this may seem silly, but frequently there is a female in distress that needs something, But, the main reason I keep these in my kit is because they are fantastic for actual injuries. They are made to absorb blood and they won’t stick to the wound. I’ve used them more than once at the scene of an accident and actually had a paramedic thank me becuase they didn’t have to pull bits of paper towel from the cut.

Wet Wipes

If you have a child you know that these are vital, but they are also great for a quick wipe down when you are sweaty and sticky. Hand sanitizer is also a great alternative and has the benefit of making you feel cooler.

Emergency Repair Kit

A lot of conventions now have repair stations, but they can get pretty busy. If you can do a quick repair yourself it can save time. It may not have everything you will need, but it is great to have in a pinch.

Our Emergency repair kit contains

  • Thread and Needle – great for fixing buttons, and stopping a tear
  • Safety pins – fantastic for holding almost anything together
  • strip of Double sided velcro – another great fix all
  • Krazy Glue – good for stopping material runs and doing quick repairs

Eye Care

Technically this could be part of the first aid kit, but if you wear contacts it can also be costume repair. The cons are hot, dusty and sweaty, top that with any seasonal allergies you have and your eyes are going to suffer. Take some good eye drops to refresh your peepers and keep them from looking sore and nasty. Also bring a case to drop your contacts in after the con, fill the case with solution before you leave the house and you don’t need to worry about them drying out. Don’t forget glasses if you normally need them.

Personal Medication

If someone in your family has medication they need NEVER forget it. IF there is the slightest chance it might be needed, then be safe and take it along.


And the most important thing at a con… Don’t forget to have a big bag to carry it all in. I like to use a messenger bag, so it is at my hip and easy access, but many like to use a back pack. Make sure it’s big enough to carry everything without breaking your back, but you also want to make sure the bag is big enough to cart home any of your purchases.

These are the essentials I like to take to conventions to make my life easier. A hungry child or spouse does not make your life enjoyable, but carting around 50 lbs of ‘just in case’ will make you just as miserable. These are my light weight alternatives that are quick and easy to pack. Hopefully it makes your life at con easier too.


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Original Article posted on in 2016

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