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Guide: How to Pack for PAX

samguyjonessamguyjones Registered User regular
Hi! I'm putting these thoughts together as a help. I'd really like to be on the PAX 101 panel. I was thinking of things I'd say, and I realized a lot of my advice came down to what to bring, which, if you're at a PAX panel, is advice you're getting too late. From my experience, I've found these things:

Clear Messenger Bag A thing that absolutely isn't a purse (unless it is) made of clear plastic. You get searched on the way in, and that search goes much quicker if everything is in a clear bag. Some concerts and events demand a thing like this. A small backpack will work, too. It's cool when the security people thank you.

Tablet or Portable Game Console There are lots of things you might end up waiting for, and it's really good to have something you can look at while you're in line. Speaking of which, here's a couple apps to have on your phone or tablet:
  • The Official PAX App It's pretty good and getting better. It's good for schedule lookups. It's often connected to the scavenger hunts and some other events.
  • Chwazi If you're a tabletop gamer, this is a cool app to decide who goes first. I first saw it at PAX.
  • General Travelling Things Uber, Lyft, Bird, Lime, Metro Bike, depending on how you like to get around. Download maps for the area around the convention center to save minutes.

Headphones A little imaginary isolation can be helpful in a crowded convention center.

Food Something dense that fits in your bag. My bold experiment for next PAX will be microwave popcorn, since there are a couple microwaves in the convention center. If you're over 30, I'd suggest looking for fiber: fruit, pumpkin seeds. Most of your food options near a convention center will transubstantiate to spackle around the time they hit your large intestine.

Foot Care Tennis shoes with extra padded innersoles that you've gotten weeks before the convention and broken in. Keeping my feet from swearing bloody vengeance on my family is my biggest PAX challenge. Plan your days, and make sure lots of those plans involve sitting down. The Expo hall with its endless new products, fascinating people and complete absence of chairs might pull you in if you don't plan another place to be, and you'll have some distracting pain for the rest of the time.

Folding Stool If you can sit on a floor for half an hour and get up without discomfort, you can skip this section and also go straight to hell. Around forty, I started to notice with wonder that the simple act of sitting on a floor and then doing something else can be remarkably painful. There are a few kind of camping stool that fold up small enough to fit into that bag that definitely isn't a purse.

Facemask PAX has long been known as a superspreader event for the flu. The PAX pox, a nickname for whatever strain hit jackpot this year, is familiar to all veterans. A mask is easy to carry and helpful in crowds to get exposed to and expose people to a little less virus.

Hand Sanitizer Even before 2020, most advice for being at conventions involved carrying this and using it liberally. Maybe some guys think it's not manly to carry lotion around and apply it to your hands, but it's about being prepared. Plus, it comes in cute little bottles that fit easily in your purse.

Paper You can take notes! You can illustrate concepts! You can make a cup! There's a YouTube tutorial on how to fold a paper cup. It's the easiest origami there is, simpler than a cootie catcher. The tutorial leaves out that if you lick a piece of paper along a fold, you can tear it really precisely. The paper cup can be filled with water around 3 times before it starts to fall apart. If you make two paper cups and put one inside the other, they last like nine times. I don't know why I keep on being thirsty somewhere that I don't have a cup.

Backup Battery Those bricks that you can plug your USB devices into to recharge them as you go are pretty cheap and a potential lifesaver. I lost power for five days in a Texas snowstorm, and one of these kept my family sane. If you forget these, there's a cool service at PAX to charge your devices, but it's not as convenient as a battery in your bag.

Tracking Tile You've got a lot of cool stuff in this bag. I'm severely ADD, and it's tough for me to keep track of things that, despite their resemblance to purses, aren't. These can be helpful.

Backup 2FA Codes I just lost and found my phone, so this is on the top of my mind. If you use 2FA with Google or Apple on your phone, and you have the backup codes in your pocket or bag (whichever one you don't use to carry your phone), you can use those backup codes to login with someone else's phone and run the "Find My Phone" app. It would have saved me about an hour last time I lost my phone.

PAX Nut, author of Inhumane Resources webcomic (https://www.inhumaneresourcescomic.com).
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