What are your suggestions to bring to a convention if it is your first convention? What food choices do you recommend to bring inside your hotel room to snack on as well? Plus, when going out with a group of Furries, how much do you recommend to tip?
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We’ll start with the easy one first: tipping. You should tip the way you always would when going out to eat. The easiest thing to do is to double the tax on the bill to calculate the tip. When the service is particularly good, I sometimes tip 20%-25%. And, if the service is really not good at all, I still give about 10%, unless it’s downright insulting, in which case I would leave nothing or even ask to speak with the manager. Now, if you are going out somewhere with a group of furries, go Dutch—that is, everyone pays for his or her own bill. I would not recommend one bill and everyone splits it, because often people get irritated if, say, someone orders a salad and water and someone else orders lobster tail and wine. So, pay your own bill.
Depending on which convention you’re attending, there may or may not be reasonably priced local restaurants within easy walking or driving distance. Hotel fare is usually a bit overpriced. Many furries, therefore, go on a bit of a shopping trip before a con, which works especially well if your room has a refrigerator and/or microwave. If not, buy dry goods and other things that don’t need cooking. Bring a small ice chest to keep drinks cool if there is no fridge. For food, it depends on whether you wish to be good or bad. Many people throw all caution to the wind during what can be a party weekend and don’t worry about unhealthy snacks. I, on the other hand, think it’s a good idea to purchase some fruit, which will be fine unrefrigerated for a couple days. You can purchase cereals (or pastries, when naughty) and put a quart of milk in the fridge or ice chest. This will save you a lot of money versus buying such things at the hotel convenience store or restaurant. I just came back from Califur, and a friend of mine also brought bread, packaged tuna, oatmeal (use the coffee pot in the room to heat up water). There are a number of dehydrated or freeze-dried products you can buy that, while not the best in flavor, will do in a pinch at a con if you are really trying to save bucks. (Note: a no-no is to bring your own hotplate--fire hazard!)
On to other things: you might want to bring a small bag of medical supplies, including some or all of the following: bandages, Bactine, aspirin, Tums, Imodium, tweezers, and sunscreen; a pocket knife can also come in handy, as well as nail clippers if you break a nail. You might also want to take Airborne daily while at the con to help keep germs away (the infamous "con crud"). Take some multivitamins, too.
If you’re a fursuiter, remember to bring a repair kit with you, including things like needle and thread, fabric glue, and, if you have them, extra fur for patching or other spare parts for replacing things that might break. Bring Gatorade to replenish yourself after suiting.
If you have one, take a cell phone with you. Make sure numbers of family members are there in the directory on your phone to contact in case someone needs to call and you are unable to. Barring that, just in case, keep a list of contact names in your wallet or purse. This isn’t always necessary if you are with close friends who already know whom to contact in an emergency, but in a panicky situation it might be should they forget the numbers to call.
Do not take valuables with you to a con, such as expensive jewelry, lots of cash, or expensive electronics, unless you can keep them in a safe while at the hotel. And keep an eye on your fursuit; it’s not unheard of for people to lose parts at a con. Keep cherished items you might have been considering taking (e.g., a favorite plushie) at home. You don’t want to risk losing something like that at a hotel.
Check the weather forecast before you leave home and make sure you pack clothes appropriate for the weather, especially if you’re going somewhere that gets very chilly at night. Take a bathing suit if the hotel has a pool (they usually do).
Some furry gatherings are actually campouts, in which case you want to be even more prepared. If you have never been camping, you should ask others who have and see what to bring. The above advice is for cons that are held at hotels.
Thanks for asking! Hope this is a valuable post for some of you con-goers out there! It doesn't apply to just your first con, but to any furcon.
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