Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Packing for conventions

Convention season has started here in Finland. We are not yet sure which ones we are going to attend, but the great wheels are turning. In the meanwhile, waiting to see if our schedules’ match and how our bank accounts relate to travelling, I thought of revealing our strategy of packing for conventions. This post is based on the experiences of train and car travelling.

First thing is to see that you have everything ready before you start. We make a list of all the objects we need for the cosplay. Nothing will be left out and the direction is usually from top to bottom and from inside to outside. When you have all items checked and in front of you, you can start packing. Golden rule for packing is to put heavier things on the bottom and lighter ones on the top to avoid crushing effect and un-wanted wrinkles. On the bottom of your bag you can also stuff your civil clothes, they don't matter as much as your cosplay gear.

Always iron your clothes before packing! And have a proper sized bag or suitcase, not a back bag where you just stuff everything.

Things like jeans, t-shirts and tricot can be rolled. They don't wrinkle easily and rolling also saves space. If you have boots or shoes other than sandals, you can put the garment rolls inside them. I usually put the shoes in their own plastic bags to protect clothes from getting dirty and to make their positioning in the bag easier. Pack the things which don’t really need any folding attention, like bandages and socks to fill the gaps and to make a nice bed for the more meaningful items.

Dress shirts should be buttoned and folded like in stores. Press out any wrinkles and check the sleeves that they are neatly folded. Here is a one way of doing it. Items like jacket, suits and skirts can be folded and recommendable is to pack them in a garment bag or a plastic bag, possibly ones from dry cleaners or just any garbage bag. Avoid too many folds though. Lay the items in the top of everything else.

Accessories and other small props we usually pack inside characters own carriage, like pouches and just place them inside the bag to fill gaps or carry as they are, like a back bag. If they are delicate we put them inside paper towels and plastic.

Armour parts we carry in hand in a tote or a bag. They take space, but better to see the effort than to find them crushed in your luggage. For swords we have made a special bag that we can carry on our backs. Takes away some un-wanted attention. It's wise to cushion the sharp points and to wrap every item in a plastic, to avoid scratches and paintjob failures.

Wigs we carry on our heads, on wig heads, possibly inside a box well secured or neatly rolled or folded in a hair net and a plastic bag in the luggage. It really depends on the wig which of these is the best solution. Hats we carry in hand in their own carriage, if needed stuffed with newspapers and other reinforcements.

When you are done travelling, immediatilly un-pack your bags. Take few hangers with you just instead. Put the clothes on hangers and if they have wrinkles, place them in the bathroom after shower. The steam will flatten the garments a bit. If you have opportunity to iron your clothes, do it. Hairdryer works also in some extent.

Always take at least a sewing kit with you. We carry around a cosplay kit, where we pack our contact lenses, make-up, binding materials, small accessories possibly with spares, scissors, tapes, glues, small containers of paint... you get the point. Anything we could need to fix the costume if something happened.

And ALWAYS remember to pack your personal stuff. Taking care of your personal hygiene makes your cosplay experience much more pleasing... for others too. Remember to take regular painkillers, possibly your prescription drugs, sunblock (summer cons obviosly) and your ID with you. Carry your ID around all the time in case of something bad happens. Preferably do the packing in one sitting. It's more likely that you forget something (possibly important part of your costume, like... shirt?) if you pack some here and there.

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