Gail Carriger’s Master List of Convention Packing & Attending Tips

I have a number of posts on attending conventions, Gentle Reader. I thought I would pull them together for easy reference.

I average about 12 events a year divided between: comicons, small or large SF/F conventions, trade shows, book fairs, writing retreats, writers conferences, book tours, and their various international equivalents.

Gail’s Favorite 10 Convention Commandments

I believe that these apply across the board, regardless of convention size, and pretty much whenever traveling anywhere.

1. Thou shalt follow the 6, 2, 1 rule. At least six hours sleep, two full meals (one of them a big breakfast), and one bath.*
2. Thou shalt wear deodorant but not perfume.
3. Thou shalt tip thy maids.
4. Thou shalt wear layers.
5. Honor thy moderator.
6. Thou shalt carry badge, ID, business cards, phone, cash, name tent, mints, floss, tissues, pain killers & other meds, compact, snacks, and water upon thy person at all times.
7. Thou shalt not eat raw onions.
8. Thou shalt follow the protocols of cosplay. (No realistic weapons, no sticky substances AKA the PB & J rule, no view obstructing wings or hats, be aware of your costumed dimensions.)
9. Thou shalt not put a backpack on a large man. (Nothing worse than being a short female constantly whacked in the face by a backpack-wielding Sasquatch, particularly on planes.)
10. Thou shalt shalt not dress like a slob.

* In my case this is the 8, 3, 2 rule. I try to get at least 8 hours sleep, hence you see me heading to bed at midnight. I eat 3 full meals (you knew Alexia’s obsession with food came from me, right?). And I take a shower in the morning and a bath, or at least a soak for my poor feet, in the evening.

Ply me with a drink sometime and I will tell you about the Secret of the Baby Brick and how to get the right hotel… Meanwhile, let’s talk packing.

1882 Traveling Bag

How to Master Modular Packing

In addition to pockets in various suitcases, I’m a believer in keeping everything as modular as possible. I’ve two sets of Travelon bags, clear with colored zipper tops, 7 different sizes. (Plastic baggies work well enough in a pinch.) I travel enough to find something more durable worth the $14.

Travelon Set of 7 Packing Envelopes, Assorted Sizes $14

I like to use the largest baggie for my itinerary, magazines, and lecture notes to review on the plane. I find it works better than a folder, nothing falls out. Also it accommodates both paper sizes for international trips. In a pinch it can be used to transport parts of manuscripts, during proofs, for example.

Author Convention Attending Kit

L-R, T-B = promo postcards, pens for signing all types of books, special cards to give away to kaffeeklatch, small notebook, name tents, newsletter sign up sheet, business cards, book covers (first in each series).

Food Kit

At conventions my schedule is often so busy I resort to eating snacks and leftovers out of my room fridge (if lucky enough to have one). My food kit includes extra mints, condiments, mini marmites (legitimately stolen when in the UK), G2 for dehydration headaches, vitamins & pills, and proper tea utensils. I’ve recently added a pocket knife to the mix, although only for checked luggage. Not pictured: protein bars (I’ve recently become enamored of Coconut Macadamia Bounce Energy Balls mostly because they are higher on the protein lower on the sugar and smaller than bars like Luna) or some other healthy snack (I make myself dried fruit-and-nut mixes). Also a Clear2Go water filtration bottle for plane travel and tea making once I land. Speaking of tea…

Tea Kit

There is the customary tea supply (14 bags, two for each day) plus about 5 raspberry leaf, creamer (I need to steal more) for emergency use only, and the water boil coil with European adapter.


I have a hanging roll. I got it free with a magazine in England some 15 years ago and I will be CRUSHED when it finally dies since there doesn’t seem to be anything else like it out there. I’ve arranged it so there are no liquids, thus I never have to worry about TSA. So far, airport security has never asked me to unroll it.

I use a jewelry roll for my jewelry, no picture, it’s just a cheepie from Marshalls.


I have three kits: long haul, on-plane, and short haul.

  •  The black long haul stands up on its own, great for hotels, and gets wrapped in a plastic bag inside my checked luggage, so it doesn’t have to be clear.
  • The littlest one is for on-plane long flights when the long haul toiletry is checked. It is comprised mainly of solid state products and sample products in tiny packages so it gets through security without having to be removed. But it’s clear just in case. Eye drops and lip balm are a must. Also this kit should work for at least one overnight in case of getting stranded. (Always have at least a change of underthings with you at all times when traveling.)
  • The larger clear bag, for weekend short haul trips, does have to be taken out at security, so it’s packed in the outside pocket of my carry-on for ease of access.

    Emergency Kit

    Here’s a blog I did on Retro Rack featuring the contents of my fashion emergency kit.

    Want a more detailed break down of the contents of these kits?  Find it in this older blog post.

    {Gail’s monthly read along for February is Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper Book 1 by Tamora Pierce.}


    Your Moment of Parasol . . .

    Journal des Dames Date-  Wednesday, September 1, 1847 Item ID-  v. 32, plate 59

    Your Infusion of Cute . . .
    Watch This Octopus Attack on Snorkeler Kill with Cuteness

    Your Tisane of Smart . . .
    Recipe: Artichoke Barigoule (1879)

    Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
    10 Women Who Changed Sci Fi


    • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Edit pass. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
    • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella. Reworking & trimming. Release date to come. Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, featuring a grown up and several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.

    Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 

     The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
     1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

     $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
    Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;
    The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

    Book News:
    Feral Wordmonger says of jumping into the middle (!) of the Finishing School series:
    “I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out how exactly I was able to move so smoothly into the dead center of a book series like that. And all I can reckon is that I was able to follow along because the narrative moved forward just as confidently as the heroine herself.”

    Quote of the Day:
    “They assault and batter nothing but pianos; they steal nothing but ideas; they murder nobody except Chopin and Beethoven.”
    ~ P. G. Wodehouse, The Man with Two Left Feet And Other Stories

    Want Gail in you inbox once a month? Get the Chirrup!
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    Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
    Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
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    Posted by Gail Carriger


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    1. Julie Baker said:

      Your post is well-timed. I am preparing for a 22-day trip to France and Belgium. I just reread your "Long Haul Flight Essentials" post yesterday. Thank you for sharing your packibg tips and tricks!

    2. Julie Baker said:

      Your post is well-timed. I am preparing for a 22-day trip to France and Belgium. I just reread your "Long Haul Flight Essentials" post yesterday. Thank you for sharing your packibg tips and tricks!

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