LVL UP EXPO: Get Prepared!

Hey there! Long time no post. Robotics and AP classes have been kind of insane. However, when my new friend Juliana mentioned to me the upcoming LVL UP EXPO* in Las Vegas, Nevada, I agreed to help promote what sounds like a fun event.

I'm a convention-goer. Whether it's big events like PAX or ECCC, or chiller, smaller events like GGC or the Washington State Midsummer Renaissance Faire, I've become an expert over the years on what it means to be really, really prepared for a convention, especially a gaming convention. Here are my top five tips on getting ready for LVL UP this year!

disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with any conventions mentioned. I'm not getting paid for this. I'm literally just a teenager trying to procrastinate on my calculus homework. An asterisk (*) indicates promotional material that I was requested to use, but I do not necessarily disagree with. I would never promote anything I disagreed with. What's even the point?

1. Health: The Most Important Factor 

The worst thing about conventions is coming home sick as a dog. For teens at PAX, this will mean attending the first days of school with a stuffy nose, and for adults at ECCC, it means returning to the work week with a headache to go with missing the con atmosphere. If you're not feeling too good to begin with, pack whatever medications will help you get through the day as well as extra cough drops. Consider wearing an illness mask! You can even find some cute designs, and people will appreciate that you aren't spreading your germs. I'm considering wearing one to PAX this year to avoid being sick on the first day of senior year, so we can be weirdos together.

To avoid getting sick at the event, now is the time you can binge on using hand sanitizer after having avoided mutating superbugs all year. Sanitize after you touch any controller or participate in a hands-on activity. Avoid touching hand railings or other people as much as you can, and definitely wash your hands before and after eating. Be extra careful in the bathroom to avoid touching anything on your person in between the stall and sink.

2. Pack Light, Pack Smart 

I remember at GGC sitting down on my very last panel with a massive shoulderache from having carried my satchel on the same shoulder all freaking day. Try for a backpack, or a really nice satchel that you switch carrying positions for every so ofter. Remember that with conventions come lots and lots of goodies, and you'll fill up inventory quick - Bring in as little as possible, especially if you anticipate leaving with merch galore!

My packing list in my Deluxe Handbag of Holding satchel by ThinkGeek for GGC: Laptop/charger, phone/charger, DS (already charged!), notebook, pen case, wallet, keys, extra shirt, emergency kit. That's it. Hand sanitizer is clipped onto the outside of my bag.

Basic packing list for PAX (backpack): Phone/charger, DS/charger, extra phone battery, wallet, keys, extra shirt, extra socks, dice, emergency kit. That backpack gets filled up QUICK.

3. Prepare. For. Fun! 

Remember that conventions are so much play if you do them right, no matter who you are. I even feel like I got more chances to goof around while repping as press for Soultamer Gaming and paneling at GGC than I did at PAX. Bring something that's a good conversation starter, whether that's a funny pin, face-painting your Pokemon GO team onto your cheek, or bringing a deck of Exploding Kittens. The convention atmosphere is a great place to make friends and memories, so come prepared to play and participate. I'd say at least a set of D&D dice is a must.

4. Imagine Emergencies 

I mentioned an emergency kit above. Make sure you're prepared for everything and then some! Of course, don't try to bring your multitool or your Adventurer's Kit to the floor, but a few band-aids and some hand lotion go a long way. I tend to pack (in a little case no bigger than my hand): A few days of my medications, allergy medications, Ibuprofen, band-aids, hand lotion with aloe vera, a tiny spool of thread with one needle, and a travel deodorant velcroed to the outside. It never hurts to be prepared, and sometimes, helping someone else who needs it is the most rewarding experience of all.

5. Things You Might Forget 

  • Sharpie - all-purpose and ever-handy. Need to label something? Bam. Want a signature? Boom. Someone passing around a Harambe remembrance poster? Covered as heck. 
  • Dice - I mentioned these above but they can get expensive if you buy them at the con. Your local DM absolutely has enough to lend you if you're short a d20. I personally also bring a filled and blank D&D character sheet folded up into my notebook or wallet. 
  • Cash - $100 or more if you can. It's really easy to access. 
  • Cleared phone camera - If you're like me and your phone decides to not let you take any more pictures after 35-ish pictures, you know what I mean. Condense your music library to your essentials so you have enough room. 
  • Phone in general - Cons drain battery quickly, and wifi is going to suck. Check your data plan and make sure you'll be okay. Cut off cellular to what you'll use. A good tip for Snapchat is to turn off cellular and post things to your story, which won't actually post - but when you get home, you can turn on cellular again and they'll get put up more or less chronologically. 
  • If you're looking for a great travel deal, I recommend using to find a flight!*

Those are my top five tips! Hope everyone at LVL UP EXPO has a great time, I'll be watching the news from back here in Seattle. 

I have another requested post coming up soon, but I'll be on and off until June-ish. Playing lots of GW2 lately and Besiege on the side when my brain is slightly too tired for CAD. I promise I'll get back on the horse when I can. There's also a biology game (CURE) that I'm interested in covering. Love you guys...