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My annual PAX East packing guide! What to pack/carry?
I do this every year, and this is no exception. Here’s my packing guide and advice for making your PAX East experience enjoyable! It’s been tested through many years and missteps at the con, and as always, if y’all have anything to add to this, holler in the comments below!
On my person for the con floor:
Water bottle. You WILL get thirsty, and soda/red bull is not a good thing to be drinking all day.
Cliff bars/other munchies (If not a Cliff bar, I tend to pack beef jerky)
I do not use this, but many people swear by it: a poster tube, to keep posters from being crushed (I don't collect posters, so there ya go)
Changes of clothes (Use your own experience for trips as to how much you need, but make sure you bring enough socks, underwear and shirts- for underwear, at least one pair for every day of the con, plus an extra.)
Hoodie/sweater (Bring 2, one hoodie for the entire weekend can get a bit manky)
2 pairs of shoes. As someone with seriously flat feet, I’ll elaborate on this: 1) The shoes should be comfortable, and broken in but they also need to be supportive: I had a comfy pair of sketchers one year. They didn’t support my feet enough, and I felt like death by the end of day 1. The next PAX? I wore hiking shoes. No problemo. 2) Two pairs so you can switch between them- wear one set one day, the second the next, then revert to the first the following day, etc- it seriously helps reduce foot strain, etc.
Set of nicer clothes (just in case- a nice set of jeans/button down shirt/polo will do)
If you are in a hotel room with multiple others: A NON-WHITE towel. I recommend a darker colour, like navy blue. There never seems to be enough towels in the hotel rooms, and bringing your own that’s distinctively different from what the hotel stocks can be a lifesaver
Cash: credits cards fail. Connections get lost. Cash will always work.
Occasionally a laptop for hotel use, or a tablet
A collapsible empty bag. If you pick up swag, you may not have enough room in your luggage. When I hit West a couple of years back, conscious of airline bag check costs, etc, I came up with this solution: I packed a collapsed gym bag in my luggage. True enough, I had just enough stuff that it wouldn’t all fit in my main luggage. So I offloaded some into the gym bag, checked the luggage, and had the gym bag and backpack as my carry-on.
A lighter. It comes in surprisingly handy
I tend to pack OTC sleeping pills. It helps if your roommates snore, or if you are that weird mix of utterly exhausted, but too wired to sleep. Just note: they will make you sluggish the next morning, the sleep will not be as good as if it was natural and DO NOT TAKE THEM IF YOU’VE BEEN DRINKING. Still, a mediocre night’s sleep is still better than next to no sleep.
If you are from outside the US: Bring your passport with you to anywhere you plan to order alcohol. They may not accept out of state ID. They WILL accept passports. This is especially important if, like me, your driver’s license is in a language other than English (I’m from Quebec)
If you plan to go partying, buy Gatorade. Drink it, it will help with the hangovers.
The four most important rules for the con:
At least 5 hours sleep. At least 2 meals a day. At least one shower a day. The con is closed between midnight and 10 AM. The parties tend to close at 2. Getting 5 hours of sleep, assuming you take an hour to get back to your hotel is 3AM to 8AM. Similarly, it needs to be 2 full, balanced meals. A Vector bar is not a meal, a bag of chips or beef jerky is not a meal. You can skip one meal without too much issue. If you skip two, you will be ravenous. Following these guidelines is the different between feeling a bit tired and feeling like death warmed over.
For all that’s holy, wear deodorant or antiperspirant. (Similarly, please don’t overdo the cologne or body spray or perfume)
Wear good, comfortable, broken in, supportive shoes. You’ll be on your feet all day, so don’t skimp on this.
Bring your good cheer and good manners
Check the weather before you leave. I’ve been toe asts where it’s 15-20C, I’ve been to Easts where it’s been -15C and wet and snowy. Dress accordingly based on the weather reports.
Dress in layers! It's late March this year, and the weather's been unpredictable. Generally speaking, I recommend: T-shirt (or long-sleeved shirt), hoodie and light jacket are recommended for outdoors. The advantage of layers is that each one is not super bulky if you want to toss it in your bag.
Bring a toque/beanie/watchcap and gloves- it can still get a bit nippy at night and these can make things much more comfortable.
Footwear- you don't need big clunky boots, but if it's wet/snowy/slushy outside? Don't wear fabric sneakers like Chuck Taylors or Vans. They'll soak through and you'll be miserable. you can do fine with standard sneakers or hikers or whatnot, just so long as they're not mainly cloth/canvas.
Pack an extra pair of socks in your bag- if the worst happens and you get wet socks, you don't want to have wet, squidgey feet all day. Spare socks helps with this!