Request for Advice: Gen Con Packing & Planning

Friends, folks, Internet people,

Earlier this week, I asked for your questions regarding prep for Gen Con. Then I announced that I‘ll be doing a Master Plan episode on the subject, notably for event-runners and exhibitors, with guests Adam Jury, Derek Guder, and Jessica Price.

Now I ask for your advice! I’m specifically looking for these things:

  • Packing tips, both for going to and for getting stuff back home
  • Travel tips, whether plane, car, train, whatever
  • Food tips — dealing with food allergies, lines, money crunch, etc.
  • Unexpected things that you’ve had to deal with, and how you dealt with them

If you want to just comment with a link to a blog post or something, that’s totally cool. I know that many of us (including myself) have written about this in years past. For instance, here’s my packing list from last year and my tips for early morning travel.

The more interesting or unusual bits of advice are also eligible for the Master Plan last-minute Gen Con badge giveaway.

– Ryan


6 Responses to Request for Advice: Gen Con Packing & Planning

  1. Food Tips: If you have a known food allergy, make room for that epi pen (if you don’t have one, GET ONE). Seriously, don’t leave home without it, because not all restaurants will be able to guarantee a contamination-free meal.

    I’m loathe to give out the secret to a shorter Food Truck line wait, but here it is (and it’s not really a secret, but an observation): get out there early, like before 11:30. WotC and Paizo’s morning games get out at Noon. The lines at 12:05 are UNBELIEVABLE. Or you can wait for a late lunch. Pack some semi-healthy snacks, don’t skip a balanced breakfast, and you’ll be better for it.

    I have a whole blog post over at http://doctorstrangeroll.wordpress.com about unexpected things from the viewpoint of someone who attends with a gamer in a wheelchair. When you try to drive through the convention center and your head is at butt-level with the average gamer, there are a LOT of things you learn about the average awareness-level of people.

  2. If you forget to leave enough room, or just end up with more stuff than you expected, Amazon will ship a suitcase to your hotel. I have actually done this before, and it work quite well. :) Just make sure you anticipate a day of shipping delay.

  3. Nicole says:

    We did a post on this very topic! http://www.cultureaddicthistorynerd.com/2014/08/geek-travel-convention-preparation-tips/

    #1 – Always Take Snacks And Water. Always. You never know when your food will come to you.

  4. Katrina says:

    Packing tips: Pack light so you can bring more games home, and overestimate how much space you want to leave for swag by about double. If you’re working at Gen Con and have to wear a specific shirt or uniform, Fabreeze can go a long way (and is good on pants, too). But use responsibly.

    Travel tips: Carpool, carpool, carpool.

    Food tips: People apparently “discovered” the food trucks last year. Be prepared to wait 40+ minutes in line to order and be served. I’ve heard that the food trucks on the north side, by the Westin Indianapolis, have a shorter line. Also on the north side, tucked in by N Senate Ave and W Washington St, is a small pub called Loughmiller’s with good food and a short wait.

  5. James says:

    If you have a squishable bag, or nesting suitcases, pack them together so that you have only 1 bag on the way out. This gives you the option of having 2 bags if you end up buying that gigantic bag of loot you’ve always wanted.

    On the other end of the scale, if you’re packing more stuff out than you are bringing back, you can ship things to yourself at the hotel. Just get the address of the hotel, put a “c/o Your Name, Reservation 12345” and mail away.

    Pack food. Whatever snacks you routinely eat at home – pack them. They will keep your budget down, your energy up, and give you space to bring other stuff home.

    Get a water bottle that has a carabiner or carry strap (or that fits in a pack you’re always carrying anyway) so it doesn’t need a hand. A: you will not lose it, and B: you will have it when you are thirsty, and not end up desperately buying violently expensive stuff at a kiosk.

  6. * The GM registration not having badge holders and lanyards early in the con (especially Wednesday) seems to be a recurring thing, so I always bring several with me so we don’t have to keep up with easy to lose/damage unprotected badges and make extra trips to registration to get them later.
    * The tables in game rooms is usually identified by a chart near the door and its not always immediately obvious how to translate that to the actual room (especially if tables have moved around, which sometimes happens). To make it easier for players to find you, make sure you’ve got your rulebook or other immediately identifiable game stuff (for us it’s a pile of candy) on the table so they’re as visible as possible. If you’ve got T-shirts or other branded merch, wear them.
    * Books are heavy, and get heavier as the con goes on. Just bring the core rulebook and the specific supplements for the game you’re running that day (and maybe your newest release if you really want to show it off). If you’ve got a tablet, put everything else on there as a PDF–that way if someone’s interested in a book you don’t have, you can show it to them.
    * Most of the hotels are pretty good about having water near the game areas, but if you’re in the convention center definitely bring your own.
    * If you’re staying away from downtown and driving in, make sure to allow plenty of time for finding a parking space.