Opinion

PAX Survival Guide: What do I take?

Hint: It's not the kitchen sink

Welcome to the first in a series of PAX Aus guides, designed for newcomers and veterans alike as a way to double-check what needs doing, what needs bringing, and what needs seeing. For the first edition, I’ve decided to start with the basics: What to take, and what not to take, to PAX Aus. Some things might be obvious. Some might be surprising. But it’s all incredibly useful, so let’s take a look at what I keep in my bag at any given time:

Phone – Okay. Obvious one. But the phone is possibly the single most useful tool in your arsenal. Take photos. Plan using the PAX Aus app. Get in contact with your con pals for where you’re going to meet. Participate in the massive games of Jackbox. Whatever you use your phone for, you have to have it.

Phone cable and battery pack – I don’t care how good your phone battery is, you’re gonna need to charge it at some point. And there’s nothing worse than asking an amazing cosplayer for their photo, only to discover your phone is flat because you took 500 photos previous to this. I opt for heavy-duty cables as a personal choice, but if you’re the sort of person who tends to lose things, an old cable that you don’t mind losing might be better. Maybe even bring two, just in case you have a buddy in need.

Sewing Kit – Even if you don’t know how to sew, someone else might, and when someone has a panic attack over a hole in their jeans or a bigger hole in cosplay, you could be the one that stands up as a saviour and says ‘yes, I have this’. There is a cosplay repair station at the convention, generally speaking, but some problems just can’t wait.

Snacks – I posted a Cadbury Dream bar because that’s what I like, but more healthy snacks are probably a better option. Muesli bars or trail mix or something, just to keep you going through the day, in-between meals, for that sneaky little energy hit.

Water – There are two reasons for water. One, it’s good for you. Drink more water. Two, it’s free, and you can go fill your (re-usable because you care about the environment) water bottle. Also, drinks at conventions are, like all things, way more expensive than they should be. Stay hydrated!

Deodorant – You don’t want to be that one person at the con that stinks and that makes other people post about why you need to take deodorant with you, right? Please don’t be that person. Take something that smells nice. I don’t care if you duct tape potpourri under your arms just do SOMETHING.

Mints – So you got your deodorant, you smell good. Great. But to have good smelling insides is as important as the outsides. I don’t want to feel like hurling myself off the top of the convention centre because you got too close to me and I can smell what you had for lunch last week. Eat a dang mint now and then.

Chapstick – Personal preference, but, again, related to the above: You’re gonna be talking a lot. Your lips are probably going to get dry. It’s an easy way to stay comfortable.

Pain killers – Neurofen, panadol, generic unnamed pain killers, whatever it is you have, take some. The con floor is loud, cramped, and you are probably going to get a headache at some point. Get a travel pack, so you can have the packaging with you just in case some authority figure wants to know why you’re carrying pills around.

Tissues – Everyone needs tissues! Someone could have to blow their nose and not have some and you can be all ‘yes I have tissues’ and you will be a hero. Or, like me, you could get chronic bloody noses all weekend in the middle of the convention like a fool. But, you know. Tissues.

Hand sanitizer – There’s a reason ‘PAX Pox’ is a term people use. You’re very much likely to pick up some kind of bug, so always be washing those hands! If your hands so much as come into almost contact with another human being, whip out the ol’ hand sanitizer and fix that problem ASAP. Become a germ-free beacon of light.

Sanitary pad and/or tampons – ‘but I don’t have a uterus, I don’t need these!’ Yes! You do! I don’t care if you do or do not have a uterus, please be considerate and put something in your bag for those that do. Emergencies happen. Be considerate.

Bandaids – Whether it’s for your blisters or you just cut your dang self, bandaids are just handy. Get some cute ones. Make yourself feel good.

An extra bag – Over the course of PAX, you are probably gonna pick up a free bag of some sort to put things in, but too many bags never hurts, because you will be getting a lot of things and one backpack can only hold so much. So I tend to keep a rolled-up bag handy, it’s small, folds away neatly, and it’s better to have it and not need it than be overwhelmed and buried in free pens.

Switch and/or 3DS – Not essential if you don’t have it, but still good to have. There’s gonna be a lot of other people with handhelds, and whether you want to play with them, or just pass some time waiting in a really long-ass line, you’re gonna want something to pass time with. Play some video games at the video games convention.

Business cards – I don’t currently have updated ones so they’re not pictured, but business cards are essential. Cosplayer? Get a business card. Journalist? Get a business card. Streamer? Card. You do anything at all you want people to know about, and want people to remember your name and details? C a r d.

Wallet – I just forgot to put it in the photo but you’ll need it. You will absolutely need to show your ID at various checkpoints, and money is just good to have, generally speaking.

A pen – Sometimes you just need a pen!

A good attitude – Put a smile on that dial :^)

What not to bring

The list of what not to bring is pretty small, honestly.

Weapons – This includes pocket knives. Even scissors are probably kinda iffy. Be smart. Please don’t stab me, or anyone, really.

Anything heavy – The only people who should be bringing heavy things are folks with BYOC badges who are bringing their entire dang computers. Trust me, you don’t want to be on your feet all day hauling around all kinds of nonsense. You’ll be hauling around enough extra nonsense as it is, this is a convention and you will buy things.

Keen for Pax? Don’t miss out on anything! Have a read of the schedule!

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