This post is about preparing your Anime convention packing list!
Do you find packing for an Anime convention very tedious and stressful? Do you struggle fitting everything in your suitcase?
Well today I’m here to answer all these questions as we will go through how to pack for a cosplay convention.
We’ll go through:
- The essentials: Anime Convention Packing List
- The ideal amount of luggage
- How to pack your cosplays
- Sorting your Cosplays in your luggage
- How to specifically pack wigs
- How to specifically pack cosplay armor
- Save on luggage space
- Other various tips
Note that this post is meant for conventions outside of your home town (i.e. the ones where you have to take a car, bus or plane to the convention). I think it’s pretty easy on knowing what to put on your convention packing list for a con that’s close to you, so no point in talking about that. This post is for the cons where you got to travel far.
So let’s get started on how to pack for a cosplay convention and what should be included in your convention Anime packing list!
DISCLAIMER: I have some affiliate links in this article if you’re looking to wear any of these cosplays. Either I myself have bought from those stores, or I believe they are fairly sweet deals. If you’re buying from these sites, you’re also supporting me and my hobby so I appreciate it!
The Essentials: Anime Convention Packing List
There are so many things you can bring to the convention. But here’s a full convention packing list of what I believe you should personally bring:
- Essential documents: passport, flight tickets, hotel confirmation, travel insurance policy, convention registration, ID
- Post-pandemic travel: documents in order to enter the state/country of the convention, hygienic items such as masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, etc.
- Wallet and money (for yourself and to pay your awesome photographers)
- Refillable water bottle (not necessary but highly recommended)
- Medication, eyewear
- Sunscreen (if you’re planning to shoot outdoors or heading to an outdoor con like YetiCon or Colossalcon)
- Your cosplays (more on this later)
- Normie clothing (T shirt, pants, dress)
- Pajamas or clothes to sleep in
- Jacket or sweater if it’s going to be cold
- Cosplay shoes and boots
- Casual shoes (for sightseeing or walking around the convention as a normie)
- Sandals (if you want to grab an ice or chill in the hotel lobby, it’s much easier to just slip on sandals than to put on your socks and tie your shoes. Or you could go barefoot, but personally I prefer wearing sandals in this case)
- Gym clothing
- Swimwear (Most hotels have nice pools so make use of them when you need some downtime to relax before/after a con!)
- Cosplay essentials kit: Has stuff like spare wig caps, thread, safety pins, needles and scissors. You can buy this sewing kit that contains most of the essential items you’ll need at a convention.
- Marker and an item for the guest to sign (e.g. Anime poster)
- Electronics (e.g. Nintendo Switch or 3DS, PS Vita), smartphone, portable chargers. Try to keep this as limited as possible. You don’t need to bring an entire video game system or laptop.
- Camera (if you’re not using your smartphone as a camera)
- Padlock (if you decide to go swimming or to the gym, you’ll need a lock to put your stuff in the locker. This is where your padlock will come in handy!)
- Toiletries and feminine hygienic products
- Deodorant. (You will probably get all sweaty at a con, so don’t contribute to Con Funk and use deodorant!)
- Birth control products
Now that you know what to bring, I recommend saving this Anime packing list somewhere. Either you can save this on your smartphone, or print it out on a piece of paper.
When it’s time to pack, check it off when it literally goes in your bag or suitcase. That way, you have peace of mind knowing that whatever items you want to bring, it’s already been placed inside your bag or suitcase.
What’s the ideal amount of luggage?
Now that you know what to bring for an Anime convention, let’s figure out how you’ll get to the convention.
Before you even begin Anime packing, the first thing you need to figure out is your mode of transportation. How will you be getting to and from the convention? This will determine how much stuff you can bring.
If you’re taking a car and driving to the convention (or being driven by a friend), then you’ll have more flexibility since a car has lots of space to put your stuff in!
However, if you’re taking public transportation such as a bus/train/plane, then you can’t bring too much stuff with you. Well it’s technically possible but not cheap! Most airlines and bus companies let you check in one luggage for free but after that, you’ll get charged an extra $40-$50 per luggage. Not cheap at all.
And you have to consider how will you lug 3-4 suitcases around if you only have 2 hands? Unless you call a taxi everywhere, it’ll be impractical going up and down stairs and moving to your hotel if you have lots of luggage with you. So in my opinion, you’re more limited if you take public transportation.
(On a side note, taking the bus or train is still an awesome and most economical way to reach a convention, especially if you’re going alone. So don’t let the luggage limit stop you from attending a convention. I’ve done taken a bus and train to a convention and saved tons of money doing so. They’re fun to ride anyway!)
Regardless of which transportation method you use, I highly recommend only bringing 1 backpack and 1 suitcase. In terms of size for the suitcase, preferably small enough that it’s considered a carry-on size. Not only is it convenient and easy to move around with only a backpack and a carry-on suitcase, It’ll save you lots of money when you don’t have to pay any extra fees. On airplanes, you also get to skip the lines as well (the big lineups are caused by all the passengers checking in their bags).
How to pack your cosplays
Believe it or not, there’s an art to packing your suitcase properly and efficiently! When it comes to fitting everything in your convention packing list, this is especially the case. (no pun intended)
To start, there’s a LOT of different parts of a cosplay (e.g. gloves, boots, props). So you want to make sure that you’re organized and have all the stuff ready to go. How do you go about doing this? Here’s how.
For each of your cosplays, list EVERY single piece of item that you need to bring for a costume.
For example, my Marth cosplay packing list would look like this:
- 3 armor with head cloth
- T-shirt underneath
- Foam Armor (3 of them)
- 3 leather belts
- Red emblem
- Falchion sword
- Wig and wig cap
By doing this, you’ll know exactly what you need to bring for each cosplay.
Here’s another example of a simpler cosplay:
As mentioned earlier, when you start packing your cosplay, scratch off that item when it goes in your bag or suitcase. That way, you don’t have to worry or stress about missing a cosplay piece because you know that you packed in the suitcase.
You can also print out a photo of the cosplay and check off every cosplay part you put in the bag. Once you have this list, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ve packed everything for a particular cosplay! Which brings me to my next point…
Sorting your Cosplays in your luggage
Put all your stuff for one particular cosplay into one large bag. You don’t want to put your cosplay pants in the main compartment of the suitcase and then your gloves in a different bag. No way! If you do this, you’ll struggle trying to find everything when you need it. So I suggest just putting all your cosplay stuff into one big bag (either a regular shopping bag or zip bag). This includes small props like glasses and gloves. This keeps everything easy and organized! When you’re finished wearing the cosplay for the day, put all your stuff back in the same bag so it’s easy to find and put away when you get home.
Put your cosplay shoes and boots on the bottom of your suitcase. Because your footwear will likely be the heaviest thing in your suitcase, you want them on the bottom so they don’t squish everything else (especially your wigs). I tend to throw my shoes and boots into one separate bag and then into the suitcase, because the bottoms can get dirty and you don’t want to ruin the inside of the bag with shoe marks. On a side note, you can save some space by utilizing the insides of your shoes/boots. Throw some small stuff like your socks into it.
Pack your costumes in the order you’ll wear them. i.e. Friday cosplay on top, Saturday cosplay in the middle of the suitcase, Sunday cosplay on the bottom. That way, when you arrive at the hotel, you can immediately take out your Friday cosplay and get ready to head out the con. You can unpack your pajamas and other stuff later in the evening when the con slows down.
When it comes to packing liquids and gels such as lotions and facial products, you should separate them from your cosplays. These products do not hold well when being transported, especially on a bus or plane. They will probably open and leak during the trip! If you need to bring them, then at the very least separate them into the smaller compartment in your suitcase, away from your clothing.
How to specifically pack wigs
Wigs can be both easy and difficult to pack. It all depends how the wig is styled. If the wig is a basic style, then you can easily just throw it in a zipper bag in your suitcase and you’re done with it. However, if you have an elaborate wig that’s styled thoroughly and fragile, then it will require different type of planning.
Put the wig either on a small mannequin or stand that can firmly hold the wig on top.
Ensuring the wig does not get crushed or ruined while in transit is very important. Making sure the wig does not fall off the stand (or mannequin head) is vital; if it falls to the side, the styling will get crushed by the clothing or other stuff in your luggage. So either use a rubber band or a wig cap to hold the wig in place.
If you put a plastic bag over the wig and stand, the bag itself can also crush the styling, so leave a little extra room when tying the plastic bag.
As a last resort when I packed my Spark Pokemon GO wig with me to Anime Central, I stuffed it in my backpack. I placed on the top of my backpack beside the zipper, so the spikes had room. While the wig did get bent out of shape a bit, it still worked for me!
Click here to buy a cosplay wig mannequin head to store at home and to bring you on your trip to a cosplay convention:
How to specifically pack cosplay armor
Cosplay armor is another tricky thing when it comes to fitting it on your Anime packing list. I tried doing some research and unfortunately, there is no easy answer for this (unless you have a car).
Cosplay props and armor can be very fragile, so the best thing to do is wrap them with towels, bubble wrap or with clothing. That way, it’ll be able to withstand the bumpy roads during the trip to the convention. Ideally, you want to carry these items with you on the bus or in front of you in the car. But if that’s not possible, then make sure it’s wrapped up so it doesn’t get damaged along the way.
If the armor isn’t too large or fragile, you can pack it in your suitcase. Either wrap the armor with your clothing so it takes less of a bump when the suitcase is jostling around the vehicle. Or secure it in the smaller section of your suitcase so it doesn’t move around as much. If the armor is very large or fragile and you’re driving to the convention, I suggest placing them in rubber bins and wrapping the fragile parts.
Bringing cosplay armor can be difficult, which is why I suggest saving those cosplays for only conventions that are close or you can drive to. Taking them on a plane or bus is risky as it can get damaged. Also, there’s a chance that airport or transit security will go through your stuff, possibly further damaging your stuff! I personally never bring them to out-of-town conventions unless I’m driving.
This is why convention roadtrips are the best. You don’t have to worry much about packing when you have a car! You have much more flexibility!
Alright, so now that you know WHAT to pack and HOW to pack, here are some other various tips to help you out:
Save on luggage space
Definitely one of the more difficult things when it comes to fitting everything on your Anime pack list – luggage space! But fear not, I have some tips for you.
If you’re staying in a hotel, then you don’t really need to bring a lot of items such as:
- Hair dryer
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Razor and shaving cream
- Iron and ironing board (most of the time)
All of these items the hotel will provide you free of charge. So you’ll save a LOT of luggage space by not bringing of these items with you. And if the hotel doesn’t carry stuff such as toothbrush/toothpaste, you can always buy some at the convenience store located in or near the hotel.
If you’re staying with friends at a convention, then figure out who is bringing what so you save on luggage space. For example, not all of you need to bring a glue gun. One of you guys can bring it and another person can bring the hairspray for your wig.
Wear your jacket and sweaters on the way there and from the convention. Both of these items take up a LOT of space. Even wearing one jacket and one sweater will save you lots of room in the suitcase. And don’t worry if it gets too hot; you can always take your jacket and sweater off when you’re in the car/bus/train/plane.
Rolling your clothes instead of folding them. I’m not too familiar with this technique but apparently rolling your clothes can save you a lot of space. One concern I have is that rolling your clothing will wrinkle it even more so than folding. And with some delicate cosplays, you may not want to roll them. This is definitely an option but not always the best option.
You can always do laundry if you have a long convention trip. Some of you guys pack for wearing different clothing each day, and it makes sense due to hygienic reasons. But in reality, you don’t need to do this! The local Laundromat is your friend that will keep your clothes fresh and clean while packing lightly on the clothing. So instead of packing like 3-5 shirts and pants to last you one entire week, pack only 1-2 tops/bottoms and do laundry at the hotel or laundromat nearby to save space.
Other various tips
Here are some other random tips on how to pack for an Anime convention…
- DON’T leave the packing on the day of the convention. You’ll regret it! One time I didn’t pack until the day of the con and ended up being late because I spent hours looking for a particular item. This is something I should have done the night before. So when you allow yourself a few days to pack, you’ll know if you’re missing anything on your Anime pack list or need to buy extra stuff before the day of the trip. Don’t leave it until last minute!
- In the hotel, stash your fragile props away. My Marth costume was partially damaged once because a guest accidentally stepped on it. So put it away in the hotel closet or under the bed.
- When you come home from the convention, separate your cosplays into one big bag. That way, when you need to bring it to a con again, everything is ready to go. It’s like having a gym bag; instead of having to look for your gym clothes and shoes, you already have all those things in one bag. Do the same for your cosplays!
- Save some luggage space for stuff from the dealer’s room. Pretty self-explanatory. If you plan to buy a lot of stuff at the con, then leave some space in your luggage for these items to bring back with you. Sunday is the best day to shop in the dealer’s room, so you won’t have to worry about packing it home with you until the end of the con!
And there you have it; a complete guide on how to pack for an Anime convention and completing your Anime pack list. If you have any questions or more suggestions for your convention packing list, leave them in the comments below! I hope you found this post on how to pack for an Anime convention useful. 🙂
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!