Across the various PAX events I’ve been to, I’ve seen multiple people ask for suggestions for what to bring.
While everyone has different packing needs, I’ve been to 10 PAXen to date, and I also travel 2–3 weeks per month for work. Thus, I’ve got a lot of experience with packing in general, and packing for PAX in particular.
I decidedly fall into the “pack light” camp. I like to pack only what I know I’ll need, and I don’t worry about bringing things “just in case”—if I end up needing anything else, I can just buy it when I get there. That’s not a strategy that works for everybody. But even if it doesn’t, I can at least show you what I do pack, and you can use it to get ideas for your own packing list.
Here’s everything I brought to PAX West 2018:
1. Carry-on bag
As a frequent traveler, I’m also one of those people who almost never checks a bag; I don’t like waiting for baggage, and a single small suitcase is much easier to handle on the light rail than a large suitcase (or multiple bags!). Thus, I pack to fit everything into a single carry-on, or at worst, my carry-on plus a small laptop bag.
PAX is not worst case (it’s only five nights, and I don’t have to pack any business clothes or my work laptop), so everything fits in the carry-on.
2. Drawstring bag
A drawstring bag gives me something light to carry around the show floor when I want to bring the Switch with me (though if bag checks are implemented, I may end up leaving the Switch behind and just attending PAX with only what fits in my pockets).
It also fits inside my suitcase so I can manage a single bag through the airport, but can be used to carry my electronics to my seat if I’m on a smaller jet that requires gate-checking of carry-on bags.
For every day:
- 1 shirt
- 1 undershirt
- 1 pair underwear
- 0.5 pairs jeans (1 pair per 2 days)
- 3 pairs socks
I only bring the single pair of shoes that I wear to the airport (so I don’t have to pack any).
All in one quart-sized clear resealable bag:
- Disposable razor
- Travel shaving cream
- Travel toothbrush
- Travel toothpaste
- Travel deodorant
- Travel shampoo/conditioner
- Hand sanitizer
- Nail clippers
I could probably get away with not packing the shampoo/conditioner (I’m usually okay with what’s provided in the hotel room), but for some reason I brought it last year.
5. Bag of earplugs and pair of noise-isolating earbuds
These are largely for the flights; I’m much less exhausted after flying if I don’t have to listen to several hours of background wind noise. But it’s also nice to have earplugs for the hotel if you have loud neighbors.
6. Shout Wipes
I’ve had enough spills on my clothes while traveling to make carrying a stain remover worthwhile.
7. Nintendo 3DS
If you like StreetPass, PAX is a great place to get hundreds of passes. However, I won’t be bringing the 3DS in the future. Once I bought a Switch, I didn’t really end up using the 3DS for anything but StreetPass, so I sold the 3DS a few months ago.
8. Nintendo Switch
It’s good for the handheld lounge, and can be good for lines, though I generally prefer socializing in lines. If I wanted to lighten my bag any, I probably wouldn’t miss it if I left it at home.
I mostly use the MacBook on my flights, and for things like looking up restaurants and keeping up with my Slack and Discord channels. Nothing I couldn’t do on my phone if I had to leave it behind, though. I don’t tend to bring it out to the show floor; even with as small and light as it is, it’s never been worth the weight for what little use it gets.
10. Power Bank
It’s big enough to charge my phone once or twice, but small enough to fit in my pocket. I don’t use the Switch enough to need to charge it during the day, so I don’t have any reason to lug around a larger, heavier power bank.
11. USB Power Hub
It has four USB-A ports and a USB-C PD port, and lets me charge every electronic device I bring (including my USB-C laptop) with a single charger plugged into a single hotel outlet.
The wall power cable for the power hub, and the USB cable for each device.
13. Folder of Event Tickets
Event tickets and any other documentation I need to bring with me. I also keep the PAX badges in the folder in my suitcase.
14. PAX Badges and Lanyard
My passport isn’t strictly required as PAX is a domestic trip for me, but I like carrying a spare form of identification (and a spare credit card) so that if I lose my wallet, I still have an ID and access to money.
16. ORCA Card
I don’t generally bother renting a car for PAX. An ORCA card lets me take the light rail from the airport to my hotel near the convention center, and take transit around the city if I want to visit somewhere outside of walking distance, with more convenience than buying paper tickets each time.
Do not pack the cat.