9 Star Wars Experts Share How They Pack and Prepare for Conventions

Packing for a Star Wars convention isn’t like your usual holiday packing, so you can’t just think about whatever while filling your suitcase with random clothes.

Just how many electronics do you need to bring? – and is it really worth packing that cumbersome Boba Fett custome?

To improve how we all pack, we have talked with 9 legendary Star Wars experts and asked them to share their best advice.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (all 9 have been to lots of conventions, so they know what they are talking about!).

The 9 Experts

Dennis Pellegrom
Hi! I’m Dennis Pellegrom, 42, born in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. In 1983 I was introduced to Star Wars. In that year (I had just turned 7) I saw some bits of the famous Sarlacc Pit scene from Return of the Jedi (which was just released) on television. Shortly after this I saw it at the cinema and became a fan for life. This was my first step into what Obi-Wan calls ‘a larger world’.

Over the years that followed, I never lost interest and things got serious. I worked for various Star Wars websites (right now for StarWarsAwakens.nl: the Star Wars community of the Dutch speaking countries) and ended up being a staff member for conventions and events. I even worked twice as the assistant of my childhood hero: Anthony ‘C-3PO’ Daniels, which is still my personal Star Wars highlight.

Another thing I started to do was to interview all the people involved with Star Wars: cast, crew, you name it. Many of these interviews were published on the websites I worked for (and mentioned in the credits of the official licensed books ‘The Making of Return of the Jedi’ and ‘Stormtroopers Beyond the Armor’) and all of them are featured on my personal site: StarWarsInterviews.com, which is a collection of all the 160+ interviews I have done since 2005.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

I don’t go anywhere without my iPod. I need my dose of 70’s/80’s/funk/rock/new wave/punk/disco/oldskoolhiphop. Another ‘companion’ is a brown leather zipfolio. It has embossed logos of Paramount Pictures and Indiana Jones and since Doctor Jones is known for his travels I always have it with me while travelling. Business cards of my websites, my iPod, passport, a pen, tickets, notes and my digital recorder (if I have an interview) all fit in this handy fellow! It has been all over the world: The United States of America, Canada, England, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and The Netherlands!

Also, when travelling by car I always have a Star Wars book with me. This could be anything: a novel, reference book, comic. I don’t do this when travelling by public transport as it can take up too many space and I like to travel light.

How do you bring things with you?

Last year, I got a backpack from NIXON, the Delmar in a Darth Vader edition! They had various of their bags in a special Star Wars edition and I loved this simple yet recognizable design. It’s black with a ‘Death Star interior’ design, has a reflective Imperial logo, a red zipper which resembles Vaders lightsaber and of course a patch with the Star Wars logo. It has enough space, but in case I find books or merchandise at a convention (which is often the case) that doesn’t fit I always have a foldable cloth bag with straps.

What are your top tips for other Star Wars convention-goers?

Unless you’re travelling by car (and can leave stuff in the car before entering the convention hall) avoid bringing things you’re not or barely gonna use during the convention, like books. Listen to music or an audiobook while travelling instead (an iPod or MP3 player is so much smaller).

Bring an extra foldable bag. Wear a foldable jacket, which fits in your bag easily (those convention halls can be hot. No need for a jacket when you’re in!)

At a crowded convention, a backpack is more convenient than a messenger bag since a messenger bag makes you ‘wider’ and less agile.

Don’t be like Luke Skywalker. Luke once carried Yoda in a backpack on the planet Dagobah. Way too heavy! Just leave this Jedi master at home.

May the Force be with you…!

Visit Dennis Pellegrom’s website

Originally born in Glasgow Scotland, I’ve lived and worked in the UK, Europe, USA & Australia. I now call the gorgeous Gold Coast of Australia home.

I saw ‘A New Hope’ as a kid and the Stormtrooper and movie just blew my tiny mind, and it was skewed to Star Wars since then. Boba Fett & Empire just solidified my love for George Lucas’s creations.

I’ve been to A LOT of conventions, San Diego Comic Con, Star Wars Celebrations and just too many others to mention around the world (mostly in the US). It’s home for geeks and a great chance to meet up with old and new friends, collect, and see your fandom come to life.

Cons can be really hard work and expensive but well worth attending. Without a doubt the mystery and cool armor of Boba Fett makes him my favourite.

I mean ‘he had me at jet pack’ : )

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Credit cards (plural) and back up old fashioned cash are essential for when con wi-fi goes down or for getting a better price on that desirable collectable.
  • Consumables! Water is essential, or at least a refillable bottle, along with some snack bars or portable fruit as con food is often appalling and expensive, leaving you with ‘con crud’.
  • Extra phone battery. The Google Pixel is an amazing phone with excellent battery life but it like any phone can only take so much 1080P 60FPS high def video & hi-res photos in a day, so an extra battery pack is essential to grab that group shot or picture as you’ll never experience it again!
  • All these things are really back ups and extras because a little planning helps make your travel that bit better. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent the entire day taking pictures and videos, and only at midnight on the way home or out at bar and your phone is starting to die after all the abuse, that you are grateful for extra phone juice.

    I often see people bringing just too much stuff or cumbersome costumes or things to get people to sign that are awkward to carry, which can really bog you down and tire you out. Go lean and carry essentials only; food, communications and money. Too many clothes or bags and you’re going to want to check out too early.

    How do you bring things with you?

    I have a Titanfall 2 Officially Licensed OGIO Backpack, which I’m never without. Comfortable, not heavy, just the right pockets and places, as well as plenty of room to expand for that other toy or collectible you just have to have. Plus, it looks awesome with removable patches.

    The front pocket has some great areas for pens, batteries, cables, water, an umbrella and even a light jacket. It’s always wise to also add a sturdy poly bag or reusable shopping bag if your run out of space.

    If I want to go really light, a simple drawstring thin backpack/bag is expandable and comfortable. Having these both bags at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando in 2017 really helped as I came across some bargain vintage figures at the Dorksidetoys booth and had to have them, but would have nowhere to store them safely were if not for my Titanfall 2 OGIO backpack.

    Again I always keep my bags light and essential so I can fill them with collectibles!

    What are your top tips for other Star Wars convention-goers?

    Pack light by removing 50% of what you want to take, and then reduce 50% of that! Pack like a ninja and get in and out of that convention so you can be first to grab what you want, and not weighed down with heavy bags.

    A lot of con goers need to remember, you need to get in shape for a convention! Hit the gym in advance. You’ll end up walking a lot, standing a lot and you’ll get tired quickly if you haven’t done a little practice beforehand.

    As someone who has easily been to close to around 100 conventions globally in my time, they are hard work!

    The last tip is just to plan, plan, plan your con, your route, book parking in advance and or check out Google street view so you know where you are going and parking well in advance. With all that planning and prep, you’ll grab and see what you want before the crowds, have the best time and the best memories. Con on!

    Visit FLYGUY’s website

Dustin Roberts
I grew up in Camden, NY near Syracuse and now reside in Cincinnati, OH. I was raised on Star Wars and really got back into with the theatrical release of the 20th anniversary Special Editions. I attended the first Star Wars Celebration in Denver to see what it was all about and haven’t stopped going since. I love meeting up with all my online Star Wars buddies every other year. My favorite Star Wars character is R2-D2, he always saves the day!

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

Three things I always bring are brand new walking shoes and socks, a poster tube with strap, and an extra suitcase. You are going to be on your feet for the better part of four days and without the proper footwear your feet will be feeling it for sure. I learned my lesson the hard way once by wearing some “cool” shoes that offered little support or cushion, and by day two I was begging for someone to take me to the local mall to buy new shoes. I strapped poster tube is ideal for conventions as many booths hand out free posters or prints, plus many artists sell prints too. With the strapped poster tube you can carry it over one shoulder so it doesn’t get lost and simply add to it as you travel the convention floor. I bring an extra suitcase inside a suitcase because of all the loot you will be hauling back. There’s always something to buy or acquire at conventions. From free swag handed out by basically anyone and everyone these days, to exclusive collectibles you might want to buy at the show, the extra suitcase trick works out great for hauling back your convention loot!

How do you bring things with you?

I pack a backpack to travel with as a carry on. This hold all my essentials should my checked bag get lost. All my electronics, one change of clothes, identification and travel itinerary. I try to plan out my days on what I am going to wear and then subtract one shirt, because I always buy a shirt at the shows to wear at least one day. I pack my suitcase then I place it inside of a slightly larger suitcase so I can fill the empty one at the convention with all the goodies I can find.

What are your top tips for other Star Wars convention-goers?

I’d say go into the experience with an open mind. There are going to be around 50,000 other people there who all want to see and hear it all just like you. Be patient as there will be crowds, lines, and a lot of standing. You won’t get to see and do it all so plan accordingly on what it is you want to accomplish each day. It doesn’t take much to go to a show either. If you are hesitant on cost, I attended my first convention with only airfare and a three-day pass. I found some online buddies who let me crash on their floor. If you want to go bad enough you will.

Visit Dustin Roberts’ website

Mark Picirilli
I am from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and I still reside in the Philadelphia area. I got into Star Wars in 1980 when my parents took me to see The Empire Strikes Back. I go to conventions to shop for collectibles, meet up with friends, get autographs for my collection and meet and greet fans of my website, Yodasnews.com, which just celebrated it’s 14 year anniversary in February.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

I always bring a bunch of sharpie pens and blank index cards, you never know what celebrity you might find that is willing to sign an autograph and you don’t have time to fumble around to find a photo, comic or toy for them to sign, so a blank white index card always works. I also always bring water, lots of people don’t because they know there will be vendors but if you are in a long line you don’t want to get out, so pack a few bottles of water in your backpack and my 3rd item is a poster tube. There are always tons of great freebies and promos, lots of cool posters and what not, but the con floor if crazy and people bump into you all the time, a poster tube will keep them all crisp and fresh until you get home!

How do you bring things with you?

I have a Boba Fett backpack that I have been bringing to cons for close to five years now, it has a ton of sections for everything I need. Secure laptop area, places for my chargers, cameras, two water bottles, keys, wallet, you name it. It was offered via Amazon, but has since sold out. I often travel by train and this is my go to backpack I take everywhere.

What are your top tips for other Star Wars convention-goers?

One thing I see a lot of people do at cons is travel “heavy” and by that I mean they come with too much stuff, you really don’t need your laptop on the con floor, leave it locked up in your hotel, you can do just about anything you need now with your phone or tablet while on the go. I also see people bring tons of stuff to offer to dealers and try and sell them, for rare comics and rare items, that is okay, but if you have run of the mill Boba Fett POTF with half circle you think will get you $300, think again. Unless you have a very rare item, dealers are not really there to buy from you, so leave your yard sale at home and list them on eBay if you are looking to sell.

Lastly, remember to have fun, if you get too caught up trying to bring 100 things with you or get to all 20 panels or pick up all the exclusives, you will end up not enjoying the experience of it. I like to plan 1 day to shop (usually the first day to get what is rare and the last day to get deals), 1 day to get autograph or photo-ops (since this will be many hours in line) and 1 day to just walk around and enjoy the panels and interact with other collectors and fans.

Visit Mark Picirilli’s website

Tom Berges
I grew up in Lewiston Idaho, but now a Seattle area based collector! I first watched Star Wars back in 1977, and have been hooked ever since. I love going to conventions mostly for the friends I’ve made from all over the world. Conventions are the best way to meet up with those like-minded collectors and fans of Star Wars. Hands down, my favorite Star Wars character is Han Solo…no…Luke Skywalker…

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

My top 3 things!

  • A guide to the convention itself! Those are usually handed out upon registration or first entering the con. This is the bible of the convention, what you’ll do and where you’ll go is in there. Get one and never loose it.
  • A map or list of places near the convention area. Conventions can get pricey really quickly! Picking a place to eat or hang out outside the convention area is a nice way to escape the crowds and save a little dough when/if you get hungry. Know the land outside the borders of the convention center, it’s a wise move.
  • Your cellphone/smart phone! Maybe this is the most common item that EVERYBODY brings, but it can be a handy time killer while waiting in lines to a convention event. Check e-mail, watch a video, text a buddy across the convention floor to get the news on what’s going on over there. A phone is an obvious must!

I’ve been lucky to have never seen bad choices con-goers make/bring. Most are pretty savvy folks that know the ropes, that or they learn quickly. Most don’t go in without a plan, always have a plan! One tip, travel light! Chances are by the end of the day, you’ll have your pack filled with stuff.

How do you bring things with you?

A backpack is a great choice of gear! The best choice really. My bag of choice is either my trusty Fjallraven Kanken Pack, or my newly acquired Filson Ranger Pack. Classic, burly goodness. If they can survive a camping trip, they’ll surely survive a weekend trip to a convention. Bags are packed heavy first at the bottom, lighter and lighter more fragile stuff toward the top. If you know how to bag groceries, it’s the same approach. Best tactic, empty bag in the morning, filled with con goodness by evening. Essentials in pockets on the outside, easy! If you’re lucky, you’ll have room for anything that comes along.

What are your top tips for other Star Wars convention-goers?

Start off light, everyone knows that you’ll be acquiring stuff all day long: Stickers, business cards, flyers, action figures, other stuff, the list is endless. You’ll need room for it all. Remember, you can add, it’s harder to take a way.

Luckily, conventions are usually announced months and months in advance. If you want to go, start planning now. Budget! Get hotel and airfare squared away early (if applicable). Factor in everything, your day, your meals, your estimated cash for stuff you plan to buy. We didn’t walk on the moon without planning! There is no failure! Get out there with some friends! Have a great weekend!

Visit Tom Berges’ website

Tim (Bossk’s Bounty)
I am from the U.K, am still here now. I got in to Star Wars back in the early 80’s when I got a few action figures for Christmas, I think I was five. Been a massive fan ever since.

I go to conventions for loads of reasons. Get to meet the cast, check out loads of fan-made stuff like costumes, art work, droids, Lego mocs, etc.

My favourite character is Bossk, he didn’t have a huge role in the film but he was always my favourite action figure.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

I take items that I want signed by the cast, or artworkers. I take my phone so I can take pictures of everything on show including all the cool cosplay costumes. Apart from that I travel light!

How do you bring things with you?

I usually take my Yoda rucksack that I got from the Disney store in Orlando. He doesn’t have a lot of room but he looks cool. Other than that conventions usually give you a goody bag.

What are your top tips for other Star Wars convention-goers?

Pack light as you will no doubt be coming home with loads of cool stuff. I can’t say I have seen anyone do anything wrong, each to their own and all that!

Visit Tim’s website

Tracy Duncan
I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, and I still live there now. I wasn’t really into Star Wars as a little kid – I was just a bit too young for the first wave. I was a reader more than anything as a preteen, so picked it up when they started a regular novel line in the early ’90s – that’s how I ended up as a part of Club Jade, which was a mailing list before it was a website. I started doing conventions in the late ’90s with the other people in the group. We basically held cons-within-a-con, aka “JadeCon” and we held them “at” GenCon for many years, beginning in Milwaukee and through their move to Indianapolis. GenCon started getting too big and unwieldy, so for the past few years, we’ve gone to Origins, a smaller gaming con in Columbus.

Club Jade gets its name from the character Mara Jade, who’s part of that whole alternate timeline. She’s certainly one of my favorites, even now. But for the current majors, it’s probably Luke Skywalker, though I’ll admit to being fascinated with Kylo Ren as well.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

I tend to overpack, honestly. But two things I’m never without these days are my phone and an extra battery pack. Because I try to live-tweet as much as possible at a major convention and I don’t want to sit around by an outlet! (I’m sorry, this is so boring.)

Over the past few conventions, I’ve also made tiny 1″ buttons, usually one with the site logo and two that are just kind of silly, based on in-jokes. Business cards are fine and all, but I like to give out something more substantial. A lot of the fan site and podcast people do it, so we all exchange them and go around with our pals buttons all over our lanyards.

How do you bring things with you?

I’m always on the lookout for bags, though I usually bargain shop so it’s mostly a matter of what I come across. Since I’m still using a Macbook for blogging, I currently have a Baggallini Avenue tote, which is a tad unwieldy, but does fit pretty much everything. ThinkGeek’s Con-Survival Edition Bag of Holding is probably a better bet, but it’s also much more common so be sure to custom it up with patches or pins.

When I DON’T have to lug a laptop around, I have a much smaller Baggallini pocket crossbody, and I just picked up a really basic Kipling mini bag for the same purpose. (Though mostly because I liked the Watercolor River print.)

I try to keep everything corralled in the bags with bags within bags, all different enough that I can find by feel. And just buying things that have lots of extra pockets to begin with! I am very big on zippers and compartments for con bags.

What are your top tips for other Star Wars convention-goers?

Really think through what you need, and remember it’s going to be a lot of walking and waiting and sitting, so be sure to dress comfortably. My big mistake at my first Celebration was wearing my (then-) usual combat boots, which I did walk in, regularly – they were fully broken in – but maybe not the best choice if you’re on your feet for 6-8 hours. Dress like you would dress to go to an amusement park – it’s A LOT of walking.

Start planning the basics as soon as possible, particularly if you’re probably traveling. I know I’ll have to fly to the next Celebration – I doubt they’re going back to Indianapolis – so that’s part of my planning. At least have an outline for what you’ll need, sound out your family and friends to see if you’ll need roommates. (Or, hell, if anyone is interested in carpooling.) Get your pass and room as soon as possible, because they will go fast.

Roommates are the best way to make it affordable, but it does require a lot of trust!

Con crud (basically, a cold) is a big danger! Be sure to eat (try for at least two ‘real’ meals a day, and budget accordingly) and drink plenty of water. Sleep as much as you can! Lots of hand sanitizer. And know your limits: I drove home from at least one of the Indianapolis Celebrations with what I thought was crud but turned out to be bronchitis, and I DO NOT recommend it. Last time I had the crud was a DragonCon, and I mistakenly took two Claritins and basically zoned out for the entire flight home. (Good thing I wasn’t driving, though!)

The big thing I do caution against for the con itself is unrealistic expectations. You can’t expect to get into every big panel, so pick a couple you REALLY want and focus on those. Don’t ignore the smaller stuff – it can still be a lot of fun!

Visit Tracy Duncan’s website

Darth Daddy & Elias
Darth Daddy and Elias are U.S. based Star Wars artists most popularly known for being the founders of the “Star Wars: Customs for the Kid” blog. They are world renowned Star Wars custom action figure artists, and are popular throughout the Star Wars custom action figure community for being an ambassadors for the artform. Their action figure artist directory for commission work is considered to be a priceless asset among both collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Darth Daddy and his son, Elias’ artwork was featured at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2015 in the Action Figure Customizing Panel’s “Customizer Showcase”. Their custom action figure art appears regularly on the front pages of numerous Star Wars fan sites. Customs for the Kid has made multiple guest appearances on several Star Wars podcasts including: The Star Wars Underworld, RebelForce Radio, The Wolfpack Podcast, Toy Run: The Star Wars Action Figure Cast, Voice of the Republic, SWAG77, The Expanded Fandomverse, Channel Star Wars and Custom Action Figure News.

Their latest endeavor is a podcast of their own that they do with Star Wars customizer, Peak-OB1 Custom Creations called, “Customizing The Clone Wars” where the artists pay tribute to the television series with custom action figure art. Both Elias and Dart Daddy were introduced to Star Wars when they were only three years old and have been fans ever since. They visit conventions to promote custom action figure art and the community that makes them by sharing samples from their collection. If they had to narrow their favorite character down to just one choice, it would have to be Ahsoka Tano.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

We really don’t bring very much to conventions with us. To keep things easy we bring a broad sample of our artwork, some amazing custom action figures that were produced by other artists, some tablecloths to spruce up to display tables, our Star Wars laptop to showcase our blog, and some glass display cases to help prevent theft.

How do you bring things with you?

The only bags we use are the ziploc sandwich size bags that we individually bag our custom figures with so the figure accessories can be well organized when we have to set them up for display. Oh, and the backpack we keep our laptop and tablecloths in. The figures are stored in their respective bags within the glass display cases to make travel easy. That way we really only have to carry in the glass cases themselves. It is a great way to organize things so we only need two people to carry everything we need and it all can be carried in just one trip.

What are your top tips for other Star Wars convention-goers?

It’s really difficult to give advice for other convention-goers, because everyone is going to the convention for different reasons and are most likely carrying in things that we wouldn’t even be bringing there ourselves. Our advice would be pack light and keep your load manageable. Bring the best of what you have because sometimes less is more.

Visit Darth Daddy & Elias’s website

Paulo Oliveira
Hi! I am Portuguese and I am 52 years old. I live in Lisbon and I love Star Wars since very young age when I went to the theatre with my father to watch the Premiere of the first Star Wars movie entitled, `A new hope´. Since then, I was in love with this saga. I am the president of the Star Wars fan club in Portugal (Star Wars Clube Portugal) for 11 years and I go to conventions with other members of the club, organized a few events such as exhibitions, cosplay and charity events.

I don´t have a favorite character, I have a few ones: R2D2, Yoda and Vader.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

I bring my Star Wars costumes, info about my club and my photograph camera.

How do you bring things with you?

Usually travel bags.

What are your top tips for other Star Wars convention-goers?

just bring the necessary that you real need.

Visit Paulo Oliveira’s website

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