Conventions are gearing up again and since I'll be at ConCarolinas next weekend (June 3-5, 2022), I'm thinking about what to bring with me. Things have changed since 2020, to say the least, so here's my convention bag packing list (not a full packing list--you pack for a convention hotel stay basically like any other trip). Unlike some lists out there, it's not too complicated and won't weigh you down.
First, your bag. I'm still carrying my ThinkGeek Bag of Holding, despite its drawbacks (primarily that the shoulder strap is too long and the part that's supposed to pad your shoulder never stays in place). A lot of people like those mini backpacks and that should be fine depending on how much you bring with you. If you bring a full-sized backpack, be careful you don't hit people with it. Also, a full-sized backpack makes it tempting to overpack. The last thing you want at a convention is aching shoulders or back.
In your con bag you should bring:
Phone charger cables, battery bank.
Spare lanyard for your badge.
Proof of Covid-19 vaccination status.
The best masks you can afford/find, at least one per day of the convention (preferably two per day so you can change it out if you get too sweaty or grubby).
Hand sanitizer/hand wipes.
Small notebook/journal and something to write with.
Business cards--even if you don't have an actual business, these are cheap to have printed and it's a nice way to give your contact info to a new friend.
Handheld fan (a lifesaver at Dragon Con in particular).
Water bottle! Stay hydrated! Keep it refilled.
Healthy snacks, including bananas, apples, trail mix, power bars. These aren't a substitute for meals but they'll keep you going until you have time to grab real food.
Cash, hidden securely in an inside (preferably zippable) pocket.
A small packet of tissues, mostly in case you didn't notice the bathroom stall was out of paper until it was too late.
A small first aid kit--see below.
Your first aid kit needs the following items:
Any medications you need.
Emergen-C or other multivitamin drink mix, but make sure it contains electrolytes. If you're feeling run-down, hungover, headachey, or overheated, mix a packet into your water bottle and take frequent sips (don't chug it). This will help and works much better than plain water for dehydration.
Bandages of various kinds.
Contact solution, rewetting drops, contact holders, spare contacts, your glasses as a backup. I wear daily contacts now, but when I wore the monthly kind I would have to take them out and clean them at least once a day during Dragon Con, because otherwise my eyes felt awful and would get all gross and gummy by the time I went back to my hotel at 2am.
Treatment for blisters/blister preventative. Dr. Scholl's sells a not-cheap-but-worth-it package of individually wrapped blister bandages and I highly recommend bringing the whole thing with you. If you feel even slightly that you're getting a blister, slap one of these on. It can make the difference between a good day and a thoroughly miserable one. It's also good to carry these for friends and be generous about giving them out.
Body Glide or something similar if you're wearing shorts or a skirt. After a little while of running around and sweating, you can quickly develop painful heat rash where your thighs rub together. This has happened to me and it was utter misery.
Menstrual products, just in case. Maybe throw some condoms in there too.
Have fun! Be safe! Stay hydrated!