How to start an Airship

This is a short article that covers a little bit of what we cover in our Panel of the same name. Enjoy!

Starting an Airship is a fun way to get involved in steampunk if there isn’t one in your area or you have different interests than other Airships in your area. This document will help you plan for this and help you avoid some of the pitfalls many others have come across.


When building an Airship, the very first thing you should consider is “What is your goal?” That can be anything from “Be a business” to “Travel to events together.” This can help to define your group and find the most suitable people to be part of your crew. This way everyone has a clear idea of what the expectations of the Airship is.


Don’t be afraid to start small. I personally think it’s best to start small and grow from there. That way your Airship has time to grow and you don’t have as many growing pains at once. You will have problems as your crew grows. It’s just easier to deal with these problems one or two at a time rather than all at once.


Once you have a starting crew selected, you want to select your officers. This is generally your Captain and First Mate. It could include other positions depending on the needs of your group. These people should generally be responsible for organizing the crew and dealing with conflicts down the road (there will be conflict).


Speaking of conflicts, you will have some. People with different personalities with individual ideas will always conflict with others. Unless you happen to find the perfect crew the first time through, you’ll likely come across some sort of issue. Just be aware that it’s going to happen and besure to remind people that you’re all here to have fun. This is also why it’s important to have a clear set of goals for the group to avoid confusion and thus conflict.


Sometimes you have to remove people. Not everyone who joins your crew will work out. When the ship first starts out, you really can’t do trial members since everyone just joined. But don’t be afraid to ask someone to part ways. Just make sure you do so tactfully and maybe help them find another group more suited for what they want to get out of an Airship. It’s better to part ways than to let someone deter you from your goals.


As your crew grows, you’ll be able to do more as a group. Plan events, do things. Also, revisit your ships goals. Make sure that the goals you set in the beginning are the same goals your crew wants for the ship. New ideas may make for new goals for your ship.


Finally, get involved. Your area has a lot of steampunk groups in and around it. Steampunk is still growing and the more involved your Airship is, the more people you get to meet and interact with. That is the biggest key to this movement. The people involved make this all worth while. Go to smaller events out of your local area and support eachother’s Airships. They’ll turn around and do the same in return.


Quirkiness: The Good and The Bad

It’s been my experience that people who are “quirky” or “weird” are often outcasts, lonely, and/or shy. There are feelings of worry and sometimes dread when “normal” people meet “unusual” people, and there’s a good reason for it. There are bad kinds of weird and good kinds of weird. The bad kinds of weird are the ones that people remember. There are some people with serious mental or social disabilities who are dangerous, but these are not “quirky” people, these are people with serious conditions. Still, it’s something on the edge of a person’s mind when they meet someone who is “strange”.

However, what you may not realize is that not everyone who is quirky is going to be dangerous, delusional, or unintelligent. In most cases, you just need to have a positive attitude, patience, and bravery to not let your hidden fears deter you from getting to know them. You might find some wonderful qualities in those “quirky” people that you can’t find in most “normal” people… like true loyalty, real honesty, and total acceptance of your own faults. You may come to understand why a person is the way they are and come to appreciate them. Sometimes, being “different” isn’t so bad.

If you know our Captain, you know she’s quirky. She’s very child at heart, silly, and happy. What you may not know is that her childhood was very hard, complete with abuse, feeling like an outcast, loneliness… things that heavily contribute to the quirkiness of an individual. However, if you really know the Captain, you also know that she’s very bright and creative! Our Captain understands every day conversation, geeky conversation, even science and theory conversations, etc. She also is well capable of being “normal” in a formal situation, or when the situation calls for it. In her case, she’s embraced her quirkiness and accepts who she is. She’s not an outcast or lonely anymore and has friends who accept and love her.

Through out her life, she’s been around all kinds of “quirky” people. Her mother is a very generous and compassionate person. There isn’t a time that she doesn’t remember having some homeless, elderly, or strange person living with them. They once had a very “quirky” veteran with one leg who mumbled a lot and said strange things living with them for several years. They even had a teenaged boy living with them when she was young, because his family didn’t care about him. He was like a second brother. There was a woman and her child that was badly burnt in a fire who lived with them during the recovery (this contributes to a fear of some fire related things). These experiences (and there were several more of these) give our Captain great insight into “Quirkiness”. She’s had experience with being around unusual, weird, and quirky individuals of all ages, gender, and backgrounds. She, also, grew up with a best friend who was mentally slow with a speech impediment, who she adores and calls her sister to this day.

Some quirky people are mentally handicapped (or handicapable). They are slow to understand conversations or social situations. They may not understand social etiquette. Often times, they mean well and are very happy and a kind individual. Not everyone is well meaning or kind, but those who are, deserve the patience and can learn from social interactions.

There are people who have quirks because of physical disorders, mental disabilities, and perhaps even brain trauma or abuse trauma that makes it very hard for them to fit into “normal” conduct. There are disorders that some people cannot control and might not be curable. These people may be highly intelligent and understand social etiquette very well… but they can’t help their condition.

In fact, you’ll find that some highly intelligent people are quirky because they are so smart. People don’t understand, or misunderstand, what they are talking about because it’s over their head. Some smart individuals can come off as arrogant, egotistical, or generally offend people who might inadvertently feel less smart because of something someone says. Misunderstandings happen. Most quirky people are just misunderstood.

There are people who are just quirky because it’s who they are and it’s not a mental handicap, or some serious disorder. It’s just who they are and quite harmless. They aren’t slow, they can keep up with any normal conversation. They know when you are laughing at them or with them. They know when you are giving them weird looks or treating them unkindly. They have feelings and they are people just like you.

We’ve had the closest and best friends that are quirky and tolerant and FUN! It’s our theory that more people should just let go and be who they are. Don’t let fear suppress your natural quirkiness. In the spirit of being all inclusive and not leaving anyone out… take the time to get to know the quirky ones and have patience and a positive attitude!

Convention Life

Before we began attending Steampunk Conventions, our crew was in an international LARPing club that held many conventions each year. We’ve been attending conventions for over 10 years, and we’ve been a lot of them. Over the years, we’ve learned how to manage our convention and traveling experiences quite a bit. Now we want to share these tips with you. This may seem like a lot of work, but conventions in general are hard work even if you are only attending to have fun. There are many things that can do wrong that could potentially ruin your experience at an otherwise amazing convention. Putting in the extra effort is well worth it.  We have also attending several conventions with little to no money, so we touch on budgeting concerns here and there as well. This article is geared more towards the convention goers, rather than those organizing or working at conventions. 
Pre-Convention Preparation
There are six topics in this category: check listsfree passespre-registrationtime offpacking, and hotel reservations
Check Lists
Our Captain is in charge of the check lists, and we recommend doing the same. Before we started using check lists, we would forget things all the time, and we were very disorderly. I keep the check list on my phone so I can modify it where ever I am. I start the check list a week prior to the convention. At the top of the list, I notate things that must be done before we leave; such as clean the litter box, put down food and water for the cat, drop off the rent check, etc. Then I notate anything we need to buy for the convention; such as a costume piece I need, snacks for the car ride, a new tube of toothpaste, etc. 
Next in the list is clothing and costuming. I notate which costumes I am bringing, what articles of clothing and accessories go with each costume, and non-costume clothing. This helps me organize what I plan to bring and ensure I don’t forget important parts of my costume. 
For example: 
Car ride – purple pants, white tank top, blanket for ride
Order Costume, Sunday – strapless bra, black tank, white off-shoulder top, black skirt, black undies, black sox, red/black shaw, spike goggles, bracer, neck corset, cross choker, red and black makeup
Captain, Saturday – white gear shirt, black bolt pants, belt, captain’s hat, copper goggles, white sox
Captain, Sunday – white ruffle tank, brown shirt, brown pants, tan and cream scarf, gloves, conductor’s hat, tan sox
Extra bra, extra undies, and 3 pairs of extra sox
Extra clothing – riding pants, black order top
Note that we bring extra clothing. This is important for wardrobe issues and hygiene. 
I also include gun mods (we have names for each one) and anything else we intend to bring with us; such as ID’s, phones, tablets, charger cables, digital camera, Smithsonian magazine (to read on the trip), Toki with googles (our mascot), Patchwork Bag with notepad and pencil, handmade toy (gift for Shy), satellite drive, octopus puppet, sewing bag, etc. 
We actually read over the list before we leave or check off items as they are put into the car. We go over the same check list as we are leaving the convention too. This makes it very hard to forget anything!
In additional to the packing check list, we also like to print out a copy of the convention schedule. We go over it with three highlighters. We mark off panels and events that we absolutely want to attend in one color (pink), mark off things we’d like to check out but are willing to miss (yellow), and then mark off times for meals (blue). This helps us coordinate for getting meals, not missing the stuff we really want to go to, and knowing how late you can sleep in and how late you can go to bed. This isn’t a strict list, it’s just a guide that helps you plan your day and night. 
Free Passes
When you volunteer to work at a Steampunk conventions, or do panels, you can often get free passes. This isn’t the case for every convention and it’s hard work volunteering. So, make sure you discuss the details of what you can do, or the extent of what you are are willing to do, what you will be required to do, and confirm that you’ll get free passes for doing it. This is a great option if you’re on a low budget.
Always pre-register as soon as it’s available, as soon as you have the cash to do it. Pre-registration is when you purchase your entry to the convention ahead of time. This helps the convention with costs in getting the convention started, but more importantly, it saves you some time and trouble later. Pre-registration typically costs less money than the entrance fee at the convention. In additional to that, once we do the pre-registration, we usually have a few (or several) pay days before the actual con to save up money. This is less money you have to spend in one check at one time. Then you save time in the registration line at the convention, which is quicker (you give them your name or ID and they give you your badge and packet and you are done)!
Time Off
Now, if you can afford the time off, we highly recommend taking the day after the convention off. You are going to be very tired, have lots of unpacking and laundry to do. For most cons, the last day is Sunday and we travel back home that day. Sometimes, we get home just in time to go to bed and wake up for work the next morning… but we take that Monday off instead! It gives you time to get some restful sleep, get your laundry done, and get stuff put away. Most importantly, if you catch con crud (get sick) you have an extra day to recover or see the doctor. You’ll appreciate that extra day! 
If you have even more time to spare, it’s a good idea to schedule an extra day off before you leave to travel to the convention, so you have plenty of time to pack. You are less likely to forget things if you have a whole day to pack. If you can’t take that extra day off to pack, then get the packing done the weekend before the convention. You don’t want to pack  right before you leave or the night before. You’ll forget things and packing may take up part of the night in which you could be getting some needed sleep.
Something else we’ve learned about packing, we learned from some military friends. They are great at packing! We were taught to fold our clothes as normal, then roll them up. We have found that this compacts the clothing and gives you more room. You will need to pack your top hats separately in a sturdy box. It’s hard to pack them in suit cases without damaging them or taking up nearly all of the space in the suitcase. Same thing for mods and armor for the same reasons. 
For gun mods, wrap them in cloth (or shirt or towel) in order to protect the paint and accessories on them. In fact, the larger mods that can’t fit into suitcases really need to be covered up for two reasons – protect the paint against trunk damage, and avoid a misunderstanding with cops or pedestrians who see you handling a realistic looking weapon.
Avoid putting luggage in the car as much as possible. If you are cramped on the ride, you’ll hurt. Conventions usually involve a lot of walking, and if you are hurting, this is going to be an unpleasant experience. We traveled from Ohio to Kansas City cramped and ended up with an injured knee and neck (pulled muscle and pinched nerve). Thankfully, this trip was not for a convention, we were moving out of state… but it was very painful and a highly uncomfortable trip. Also, if you have too much packed inside the car, you could obstruct your rear view, which can cause accidents and may even get you a ticket if you get pulled over.
Also, pack the car the day or night before. Don’t wait to pack the car an hour or two before you leave, because you never truly know how long it’s going to take. There are been cases in which we’ve encountered packing issues and it took longer to get everything packed (stupid easel). There have been cases in which packing was done on time, but then we needed to go to an ATM, to the gas station, to the store, and needed to do something else we forgot… this takes extra time. It’s easier to get everything packed the day before.
Also, if you have room always bring an extra pair of pants, an extra shirt, and extra socks and underwear. You never know when you might need an extra pair of clothing and changing your socks and undies will improve hygiene quite a bit.
Hotel Reservations
Now let’s talk about hotel reservations. I’m sure most of you already know that you should reserve your hotel room as soon as you have the dates for the convention, but that’s not all you should do. You should also call the hotel and re-confirm the reservations a few days before heading to the conventions to make sure there are no mistakes. We’ve arrived at hotels to find out they booked us a one bed room for three people, one being a fairly large man. We’ve arrived at hotels that gave us the wrong room pricing and we had to argue which pricing and room we reserved. 
Another thing we recommend, is if you are sharing a hotel room with someone, bring enough money to cover the whole room, get hotel money upfront from all parties and set it aside (include setting aside your own portion), and get your name on the reservation. We have had people who spent all their money and then suddenly couldn’t pay for the room at the end of the con. We’ve had people say they have the money, but in reality they were expecting a friend to give them money but they didn’t, so in turn we didn’t get their portion of the room cost. Now, the main reason why I say they you get your name on the reservation is because if the person who reserved the room doesn’t show up, the hotels will not give you the room if you’re not on the reservation – and if the hotel is booked, you’ll have to find another place. We actually had a convention in which a friend reserved the room and when we got to the hotel, the hotel staff informed us that our friend and her mother died in a car crash. Luckily we had the extra money to cover her part of the room, and thankfully Jess put our names on the reservation (yes, the hotel was completely booked). We broke the news to other friends attending. It was quite an experience that we’ll never forget. In our time going to conventions and the many friends we’ve made, we’ve lost friends to tragedy. There was even a second that happened mid-weekend in New Orleans – but we were not the ones rooming with him. You never know what’s going to happen. It’s better to be safe and prepare for anything. If you just cannot afford it, at least have a backup plan to stay with someone else if your plans fall through at the last minute.
Car Traveling
This brings us to traveling. First and foremost, be safe! Plan for enough time to get to the convention without sacrificing your safety. Don’t speed. If you are tired, pull over and take a nap or get a cheap motel for the night. Getting to the convention on time is NOT worth your life. As people who have been at conventions where friends have died in car accidents, I guarantee you that you will be missed and there will be tears. Even people who don’t know you will be effected. 
So, now that we’ve stressed how important safety is, there are other things to consider for traveling. Make sure to wear something comfortable. Sweats or PJ’s are the best thing to wear on a long trip, whether in a car or plain. You want to be able to sit for long hours without clothing riding, itching, or suffocating you. You want to be able to nap/sleep in your clothing. Don’t worry about how you look, as much as how you feel!
We, also, suggest setting aside gas money and over-estimate the needed gas. Put that money in the glove compartment or somewhere separate from the rest of the con spending cash. This way, you don’t accidentally speed money that you’ll need in order to get back home from the con. 
Also, bring a roll of toilet paper! We have been to cities that no matter where you go, the bathroom is mysteriously out of order. We have been to many establishments that had nasty bathrooms with no toilet paper. In fact, I bring disinfecting wipes because of the many nasty bathroom with no TP or soap I’ve been forced to use during a potty emergency. If you are on a budget, bring some snacks and drinks on the trip to eat between meals. You may find that you spend less on meals because you aren’t as hungry as you would have been if you hadn’t been snacking.
Speaking of emergency potty breaks… it doesn’t matter if you have a small bladder like our Captain or not, everyone should use the bathroom after a meal and during gas station stops. This will help you save time on traveling if you don’t have to stop randomly to let someone go potty. 
If you are traveling in a caravan (a group of people traveling together in more than one car) and don’t heed our warning about safety, and one of you gets pulled over, don’t pull over with them. One cop car can only pull over one car. If you all pull over, you’ll all get tickets. Instead, the car that the cop is signaling should pull over, and the others will take the first exit and wait at the first gas station. When the cop is done, your friend should know to go to the first exit and first gas station to meet up with you. Just remember to tell your friends – don’t assume they know this trick.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a ride on the local Steampunk groups. Other people with a limited budget may have room in their car in exchange for gas money. Some people are just generous and would love the company. Just ask around! If you are going to be ridding with someone, or will be letting someone ride with you, we have some tips! First all, before agreeing to a carpool, you need to ask five questions: 
1) How much gas money do I need to pitch in? Knowing how much money you are expected to pitch in for gas will save you some drama later. You don’t want to assume. You want to be very clear on how much money you can pitch in. 
2) How much room will I have for my luggage? You need to allow for some room for passengers to bring their luggage and be very clear about how much room they will have. Likewise, if you are going to be riding in someone else’s car, only bring what you need that will fit in the room that is available. Be ready to leave behind bigger things that aren’t going to fit. Don’t expect to pack more of your stuff in the car where people will be crowded and inconvenienced with your presence. We’ve been in situations where we allow someone to ride with us and they take up more space than we have. There was one girl who brought a giant painting easel with her and fully expected us to rearrange everyone else’s luggage, including putting some of our luggage into the car to make room for her easel. This made the car ride uncomfortable, caused frustration for everyone else and a feeling of ingratitude, and ensured she was never invited to ride with us again.  On the other hand, if you work out the details with your ride well enough, you might find out you have plenty of room and they may offer ahead of time to rearrange luggage. We’ve ridden with people who had a truck bed and a hitched trailer, so they said they have plenty of room for extra luggage. It’s all about communication and then lightening your load if there isn’t enough space. 
3) Do you smoke? Our Captain is allergic to cigarettes, so smoking is not an option. Rolling down the window helps, but not enough to avoid getting sick and having troubles breathing. We won’t ride with smokers because we don’t expect them to be inconvenienced by us. We warn smokers that there will be ZERO smoking on the ride and we will not be making stops for cigarette breaks, nor will we wait to get back on the ride because you aren’t done with your cigarette. Cigarette breaks and delays are not acceptable to us. So, it’s very important to talk to your ride (or passengers) about smoking. 
4) What are the plans for stopping for breaks, food, and/or sleeping? If the driver plans to get a motel during the night to rest, then the passengers need to know so they can bring money for a motel, or decline going if they just don’t have money for one. If the driver plans to bring their own food and isn’t going to be stopping for food breaks, then passengers need to know. You shouldn’t expect passengers to bring their own food or to starve during the trip, so make sure to talk them about the plan. If you have special dietary needs, make sure to bring it up to the driver, so they understand that you may not be able to eat just anywhere or might need to make special stops. Also, if you choose not to bring food or snacks on the ride, don’t ask others to share. If they can afford to share, they’ll offer it. Otherwise, you should plan to bring your own snacks. If the driver intends to not stop for bathroom breaks, this is a deal breaker for our Captain! Captain Coppertop has a small bladder and a blood sugar condition. While she avoids drinking as much as she can, she usually can’t go more than 3 hours (more if we’re lucky) without a bathroom break. These are all very important things to consider. A smoker with a small bladder who is eating all your snacks is going to be a miserable riding companion and long trip!
5) Does your car have air conditioning (or heating in the winter)? You should bring a jacket, a shaw, or a light blanket with you on the trip. We’ve been on group trips in which passengers fought over the A/C because one person in the car is too cold, and everyone else is hot and sweaty. It’s not pleasant riding in the car with three sweaty stinky men. It’s not fun being the one who is freezing either. It’s been our experience that the best way to deal with this situation is to have the A/C running and then bundle up if you get cold. It’s not a secret that our crew is spoiled… if there is no A/C we ain’t going! So be sure to ask if there is A/C and if the driver plans to have is running. 
Speaking of stinky passengers… if you have issues with gas, please bring some gassex! In fact, even if you don’t have gas problem, we suggest bringing some gassex just in case a flatulent passenger forget it. No one wants to be crop dusted on a long trip!
Bus Traveling
We never bus unless it’s less than an eight hour trip. We’ve had terrible experiences with greyhound. Bus bathrooms are DISGUSTING. Pee-pee splattered all over and sticky… ewww. Also, the stops they make along the way are not long enough to use the bathroom unless you are first in line (because everyone on the bus needs to go) and you have very little time to get food. The bus is cramped. There are screaming children who never stop crying. There are crazy people who mumble incoherently. There are bums and drunks who smell bad. There are often no seats available together, so you can’t sit with your spouse and get crammed next to some large man or woman. It seems like a majority of buses have broken A/C or heaters. We find that an uncomfortable trip is worth not going at all. We don’t recommend the bus unless it’s a very short trip.
Airline Traveling
If you are like us, we love to fly when we can afford it. Sure the seating can be like buses in that they aren’t that big… but flying is way more comfortable and a quicker way to travel. If you order tickets together, you’ll get assigned seating together. You don’t get as many of the creepy smelly people on planes because it’s to expensive for bums and airlines are far too suspicious of “crazy” people. The bathrooms are far cleaner. There are stewardesses who are usually very nice (you get the occasional cranky one). And you get to look out at the beautiful scenery outside the window! 
So, if you choose to fly, here are some tips. Plan your flight early. The earlier on you get your tickets, the less they cost. Also, plan for a flight that leaves earlier than you need. You never know when a flight will be delayed due to weather or other issues. We were on a flight that got caught in a lightening storm and it was a VERY bumpy ride. It was frightening and we had to take a detour out of the storm and around the whole thing. Our friends who were traveling in the same direction were delayed because of this storm and their flight was much later than ours. We’ve also been on a flight where ice crystal had formed on the wings of the plane and we had to wait about 15 minutes for a heat pad and then wait 15 minutes while the heat pad defrosted the plane. They can’t take off with ice on the wings!
Airlines tell you to be there an hour early. Leave an hour earlier than that. If your flight is at 9am, you need to be there by 8am, so you leave at 7am. If you can leave even an hour earlier, you should! Also, make sure everything is packed and in the car the day before. There are a million things that can make you late for your flight. In our experience, being late means you miss your flight. Once you get to the airport, you have to compete with traffic. You have to get in line to check your luggage. You have to figure out where your gate is and it’s going to be a lengthy walk. We’ve had gates that took 15 minutes to walk to! We’ve gone to the wrong gate and had to walk again to the correct gate, taking 25 minutes for the whole walk about. Not to mention security!
Check the expiration date on your ID! We had once flight in which we traveled to Louisiana. The Captain’s ID was not expired when we flew out… but on the flight back home it was expired. They do not accept expired ID’s on a flight. Luckily, a security manager approved me for the flight since it was a return flight and my ID had just expired the day before. Not all security management is that nice. Some of them are super strict and won’t make any exceptions. So, make sure your expiration date isn’t up before or during your trip. And don’t forget to bring your ID!
If you feel tempted to make terrorist and bombing jokes… don’t. Security does NOT have a sense of humor. You will not only be detained and will not be on your flight, but you will be black listed and can never fly on any airplane ever again…. EVER. If you think it’s a myth… why test it? Is it worth never having the comfort of flying again, just for a joke?
You have to wait in a long line for the security check point. You have take off your shoes, jewelry, empty pockets. You go through a metal detector and sometimes you get patted down. If any alarms goes off, don’t get freaked out. It’s usually some forgotten pocket change, and they just pat you down. It’s fairly quick and easy – not much different than being pat down by security at a music concert. 
You often have to pull laptops and bottles and other things out of bags. Sometimes they open your bags and search the entire thing. Sometimes they ask you questions about the contents you are carrying. Don’t get nervous, it’s usually just weird stuff that you can’t carry-on but you have it checked with your luggage. They might have to check some items for you or might have to throw away some shampoo bottles. 

3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure.

If in doubt, put your liquids in checked luggage.

Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint. Officers may need to open these items to conduct additional screening.
Make sure sharp objects and tools are packed in checked luggage. Sharp objects (swords, axes, and knives included) must be sheathed or wrapped to prevent damage/injury. Sporting goods also must be in checked luggage, and armor can easily fall into this category. Yes, you can bring your gun mods and fake pistols on your flight, but put them into checked luggage. 
You cannot check nor carry-on flammable liquid, gel, aerosol paint, spray paint, dangerous chemicals, and explosive material (this includes realistic replicas, blasting caps, gun powder, and percussion caps).
Canned or jarred foods, oils, drinks, lotions, and perfumes (and snow globes) that are more than 3.4 oz must be checked into luggage, or they’ll may you throw it away. 

For more information, see the TSA website:
Most hotels have shuttle services for picking up and dropping off guests at the airport. These are scheduled, so make sure you call the hotel ahead of time to schedule a pick up. 
Hotel Rooms

Now that we’ve covered a lot of pre-con topics, including a lot on traveling, we want to cover sharing hotel rooms. Like with sharing gas costs, you want to get room money upfront and set the total amount away from the rest of the spending cash. Like we mentioned before, you should always try to bring enough money to cover the cost of the room on your own, because there are many ways you could get stiffed. Since the reservation is in your name, you’ll be ultimately responsible for any left over balance. We’ve had roommates mismanage their funds, give us excuses, choose to room with someone else at the last second because they hooked up with a guy, and in the worse case we have experienced, died in a car crash. 
Remember when we said that having the reservation in your name means you are responsible for any left over balance? If you are rooming with someone, stay out of the mini bar, don’t order room service, don’t order movies on the tv, and don’t steal anything from the hotel room. All of these things will be charged to the credit card that is on the reservation. Yes, hotels will charge your for missing pillows, towels, blankets, tv remotes, and other missing items. Don’t think you can’t be found and sued for charges you leave your roommate with. 
As a courtesy, you should always get dressed in the bathroom with the door closed.  You should dress in the bathroom even if no one else is in the room, because you never know when someone will walk in. Now if you are close or very familiar with your roommates and you have an understanding that no one in the room is modest, then it’s not an issue.
Also, if you are rooming with people you don’t know very well, you should avoid having sleep over guests, socks on doors, and arranging room parties. Most con goers know that putting a sock on the door is a signal that you are partaking in sexual activities. It can be very disrespectful and inconvenient if you are preventing your roommates from going to bed at night, getting a mid-day nap, or getting into the room to change into costume or to retrieve money for food.
Our crew is very close, so we have no reservations about discussing these sorts of things. If you are fairly familiar with your roommates, discuss the “sock” rules and party rules – such as time restrictions, bed times, etc. For us, we generally arrange room parties with each other first, so everyone is in agreement. We also have a rule that if an hour passes and the sock is still on the door, we will enter the room anyway. We’ve been in situations where roommates have forgotten to take the sock off the door and then gone to bed!
Room Parties
While we are on the topic of room parties, we’ll give some tips. If you go to a room party, it’s customary to either donate money to the booze fund, bring a bottle of something to contribute to the booze table, or bring your own drinks. Don’t show up empty handed and drink all the booze! If you don’t have anything to contribute and are still offered to drink, be respectfully modest and not down a whole bottle of rum or drink a whole case of beer. 
Also, if you can’t hold your liquor, don’t drink too much. No one wants to clean up after your puke, or console your drunken self-pitty sobs, or deal with an aggressive, mean, or violent drunk. You can easily get yourself kicked out of the party, not invited to another one, and even earn yourself a bad reputation in general. Happy drinkers are welcome!  Also, don’t expect other people to babysit you. No one should have to monitor your drinking or behavior. 
Now, keep in mind that if the party gets too loud, the hotel can have it shut down. Don’t blast the music up. Don’t raise your voice to a yell. Try to remember to keep it down. We, also, highly recommend carding the younger party goers. We’ve been to a party where a 17 year old drank so much that he got alcohol poisoning and had to be taken to the hospital. No one knew he was a teenager. 
The biggest thing to remember, is that room parties are for fun! Don’t bring drama to the party and don’t cause any drama. Don’t air your dirty laundry out in front of everyone. It’s disrespectful to everyone at the party if you are screaming at someone and then sobbing in a corner. If you are upset, leave the party, take the confrontation somewhere else. If you are in a bad mood, don’t bring down the mood of the party by hanging around sulking. It may seem cold hearted, but no one goes to a party to deal with your personal drama and no one wants to be your babysitter or emotional handler. When you go to a room party, you go to have fun. It’s as simple as that. 
Cleaning & Packing
The last day of the convention is the most tired you’ll feel. You won’t want to pack or clean but you have to… unless you do what we’ve learned to do. When you’re not in a hurry, put items back into suitcases where they belong and refold your clothing back into the suitcase when you are done with them. At night, before going to bed or before heading to a room party, pick up trash and put things away into bags and suitcases. The more orderly you keep your luggage and room, then less cleaning and packing you’ll need to do on sunday. On Saturday night, we get the majority of all the packing and cleaning done so that when we wake up in the morning feeling worn and tired (possibly sick if anyone caught con crud), it’s not so bad!
Remember our first tip about check lists in Pre-Convention Preparations? Take a look at your packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything. Also, check under the bed, shake out the bed covers, look under pillows, look on the table/bed stands, look around the tv stand, double check the closet, and double check the bathroom around the shower/tub, around the toilet, under and on the counter. Check behind the chair for good measure. It doesn’t hurt to be thorough! 
We once got a call from a fellow COGS group member who left their tablet at the hotel and had already left for their flight. They asked the hotel to give it to us to transport back to them and in exchange we got a free dinner in gratitude! If you forget something, contact someone at the convention and make arrangements. Otherwise, hotels are usually willing to make pickup or mailing arrangements (within reason).
This section will cover health tips: Food, Walking, Con Crud & Hygiene.
We recommend having snacks and some drinks stored in your hotel room. You may find that near by food places close at strange hours, or the vending machine and soda machines are sold out. It’s been our experience that vending and soda machine run out of stock very quickly during conventions. It may be late, maybe you had to missed dinner, and your just too tired to go out for food. Order pizza! The hotel usually has a list of pizza and delivery places near by. If you can’t afford it or there isn’t a pizza place (which has happened), you might not have any options. Having snacks and drinks in the room will be very much appreciated at the end of the night. 
Another delima we’ve experienced is awful dining. You go out to some diner or place nearby and the food is terrible. If you are on a budget, you can’t just waste your money going to more than one place. Or maybe this is the only place open for dinner that you can afford. having that snack at the hotel will be extra tasty!
Also, being able to grab a quick snack between meals when you up in the hotel room getting changed, fetching something, or taking a nap will help you keep your strength up. You’ll be burning a lot of energy running around the convention. So, even if you don’t have snacks in your room, stop by the vending machines from time to time.
If you are on a budget, avoid dining at the hotel restaurant. They are usually pricey, but feel free to look at the menu. They do usually have good breakfast buffets at a reasonable cost. When we aren’t on a tight budget, we enjoy eating at the restaurant. It’s nice not to have to drive anywhere.
If your budget is super tight, bring a cooler with food and drinks so you don’t have to spend on many meals. Other options depend on what’s available, but the dollar menu at Mc Donalds and Wend’sy, and Tacobell are some of the cheapest places.
A lot of hotels have shuttle services that you can schedule to give you a ride downtown and pick you up.  shuttle services for picking up and dropping off guests at the airport. These are scheduled, so make sure you call the hotel ahead of time to schedule a pick up. 

There is an awful lot of walking at conventions. The amount of walking around can be enough to even get slender fit people tired and sore. Us less fit individuals have found a great way to help relieve pain and increase endurance. Obviously, you should try getting a bit of extra exercise the few weeks before the con to get your endurance up, but there are easier ways. For one, go to panels regularly! You get to sit for 30 minutes to an hour while you enjoy the panels that the convention has to offer. Also, make time for a nap or a few naps here and there. 
Drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated, so you can keep your energy up. All that walking could dehydrate you and make you more susceptible to con crud (getting sick). And don’t forget to eat regularly! You can’t keep yourself well and energetic without food and water.
Our biggest secret is Tylenol Arthritis pain medication. You can get it over the counter at Walmart. We take two a day and helps a whole lot!
Con Crud & Hygiene
There are a lot of people from all over that go to conventions. If even one person shows up sick, it gets around. This a con crud. People shake hands, hug, and talk all day. People could be sick and not now it, because some illnesses have a gestation period in which you are contagious but have no symptoms. So you could be making people sick without knowing it. Now, you could just not shake hands, hugs, or talk… but that’s not very fun! So, here are some better tips for avoiding con crud. 
Like we mentioned in the above section, drink lots of water and eat regularly. If you get dehydrated and weak, it will make you more susceptible to con crud. 
Our crew takes vitamin C and Zinc every morning of the convention. These are vitamins that boost your health!
Another tip to avoiding con crud is just being clean in generally. No one wants to be around a sweaty stinky con goer! Take regular showers and reply deodorant often. We have found that you can purchase clinical strength deodorant over the counter from brands like Secret , Degree, Dove, Gillette, etc. We (both male and female crew members) have used this stuff and it’s fan-frickin-tastic! It keeps you protected for HOURS. We like to bring it with us around the con floor in a bag so we can re-apply later in the day… if we even need it. 
Speaking of showers, if you can sneak in a shower before meals and change your delicates out, you’ll be avoiding infection, odor, and con crud too. Another tip is to shower BEFORE bed, not just in the morning. You want to be clean and dry and wash off all the germs you may have picked up while out on the con floor. 
Bring several pairs of CLEAN undies, bras, and socks, and then make time to change them out a few times during the day.

You can also use Fabreeze on clothing to help minimize body odor and embarrassment – and it saves life long friendships from suffering the wrath of Steamfunk (a term used by Cpt. Whittaker).

Steampunk Summers: PART 3

By now, after reading Part 1 and Part 2,  the engineers and really creative makers are thinking up fancy ways to beat the heat with cooling systems. This is where the Steampunk community shines… but I’m not an engineer. I can tell you some of our crews ideas and share some of the ideas that other crews have shared with us. You may have do a little research to figure out how to do these things yourself or commission a crew like Airship Isabella.
Here’s an easy one… put some of your clothing in a fridge or freezer for an hour to give you a cool start on a hot day. Please don’t freeze your dry clean only apparel or you’ll ruin it! I’d suggest also not freezing underwear as these would cover very sensitive areas of the body.

At Nightmare Machine, the Captain was introduced to a corked shot glass filled with ice. I wore it between my cleavage for that last day at the convention and it was quite nice. It keeps the cold near your heart and adds a little more cooling to that important chest/head area.
We’ve used battery operated fans at outdoor concerts in the summer, and those are great! We already mentioned this idea in Part 2, but we thought it would be nice to mention again. You can also get misting fans. At some point, someone mentioned the use of reverse steam misters in some designs.
There was a gentleman at the convention who had a computer fan installed into his top hot to keep his head cool. I can’t imagine this being very hard, and computer fans are generally cheap (under $10). Just make sure to pay attention to the size of the fan you are buying.
I’ve talked with Airship Isabella crew members about breather units used inside of masks. They mentioned a camel back  system or water bladder system, but you’d have to ask them for details. They are always happy to help other Steampunkers with Do-It-Yourself projects, or commission a mask for you. I’ve seen some dandy masks on their tables – have you seen the Madhatter (David Antunes)? 

Recently, we’ve been working with the Steam Engine Intrepid to create and test one of our ideas which includes cool packs in clothing pockets. We’ve been researching type of cool packets, how they work, durations, etc. This is something you might get to see us wearing at Aetherfest, if the prototypes are ready. Yes, they will end up on the vending tables once the design is perfected.

So, that’s all we have! If you have any great ideas that we missed, let us know

I’d like to give a special thanks to everyone who shared their ideas and advice:

Airship Isabella
Airship Dionysus
Airship Hope
Steam Engine Intrepid
Shea D. Alric
Amelia Ruth Thompson
Steve Chapman
Butterfly Creations
Victorian Cogworks
Colonel Mike Legerdemain
Three Oaks Bed & Breakfast
Designs by Lady MacBeath
Flash Gunner
Maddog McCrae

Steampunk Summers: PART 2

So, now that we covered the basics in Part 1, let’s tackle costuming. Let’s start by saying that having only one outfit for your persona is unnatural. People don’t typically have a closet filled with multiple pairs of the exact same outfit. So, why not make different, lighter, cooler costumes for your persona during the summer months? When you make a new costume, it’s bets to wear it for an hour before you take it to a convention, so you know it’s going to be what you planned.
Remember when we said no to be afraid to sweat? If you are going to wear layers, stick with light weight and breathable fabrics. In general, don’t wear heavy thick fabrics. Also, avoid tight clothing and wear loose breezy clothes. Darker colored clothing absorbs heat, so wear lighter colors, and remember that white reflects heat. Avoid dry clean only items. Machine washable clothing is easier to clean and generally isn’t ruined by sweat and water. It’s best to use natural fibers and thinner fabrics. User cloths, broadcloth, cotton, egyptian cotton, chemise, linen, flax, twill, and silk linings. Believe it or not, wool is recommended because is pull moisture away from the body, so if you’re going to use a coat, use a wool coat. Otherwise, it’s cooler not to use coats or jackets. Ladies can use shaws to cover up and protect again sun rays.
We mentioned in the Part 1 that you can overheat if you head and face isn’t kept cool, so let’s talk about hats. Don’t use felt hats or hats with an excessive amount of accessories on them. Wear hats that breath or have ventilation. An explorers hat usually has little venting holes around it, which is great for the summer. Long rim or wide rim hats provide shade for the face and ladies are encouraged to use Fascinaters instead of hats. Avoid leather aviator caps, as they can generate a lot of heat and usually cover the entire head. Besides, why wear a hat when a pair of goggles is much cooler?! Don’t worry, there are some creative ideas for hats in Part 3 of this article.
Ladies, we know you love your fancy dresses, bustles, and corsets, but you can sport some lovely summer attire without all that extra heat. For a cool summer, wear light dresses, short layered skirts (light thin fabric only), avoid bustles and petticoats, and hoop skirts provide breathing room for your southern regions. Wearing a vest is going to be much coolor than a corset; but if you insist, don’t tighten or cinch your corset and wear a half shirt or short sleeve/sleevless chemise (or light thin fabric) beneath it. Bloomers are great to keeping hiked skirts decent and they’re pretty! For us big girls, there’s a wonderful site that our Captain loves to shop at called Hips And Curves. You can get some quite lovely plus sized bloomers, chemise, and more.
Gentlemen, we know you love your armor, but that can be heavy, hot, and miserable in the summer. If you must wear armor, wear light built armor, wear less of it, and take it off from time to time to give yourself a break. Men can also wear kilts for a breezy alternative to pants and a tank top under the vest instead of a shirt. Everyone can wear sleeveless/short sleeved or rolled up sleeve shirts, and partially unbuttoned shirts.
Let’s talk about face masks. There are lots of persona’s who use face makes, such as the Order characters in the community. If you can’t will yourself to leave the mask off for the summer, then make sure it’s a well ventilated design. You body can’t cool properly if you’re breathing nothing but recycled air. Take a breath from the mask frequently and drink more water. There are more ideas for mask, but those will be mentioned in Part 3 of this article.
We don’t want to overlook the feet. It’s important to realize that feet expand when they get hot and they also sweat. Like we mentioned in Part 1, change your socks often to avoid fungal or bacterial infections on the feet. Since your feet will expand, don’t wear snug shoes. Don’t be afraid to wear sandals and don’t think you can’t steampunk sandals! Better yet, who’s going to walk around being judge mental of shoes anyway? Just wear something that will let your feet expand and breath and you’ll feet will be much happier at the end of the night.
Don’t be afraid to leave the accessories home for the summer, or wear minimal accessories at least. Try adding some steampunk flair to a Middle Eastern outfit. Middle Eastern clothing is actually designed for the heat. Design a Safari Explorer’s outfit with shorts, a light explorer’s hat, and the explorer’s hat which is well ventilated. A paperboy outfit can be pretty light – just ask Shea Alric. There was a gentleman that we met at Nightmare Machine – an outdoor event that was very hot and humid – that was wearing a simple pair of pants and a shirt, but his long rim hat had steampunk flair, as did his belt and holstered pistol. He’s persona was a western gunslinger and he chose very light costuming. On the last day of the event, our Captain fanned herself with her black fan even though it didn’t match her outfit because it was miserable hot. She wore copper googles on her head, a mini pocket watch necklace, loose brown pants, a white tank with small ruffles down the center, a brown shirt unbuttoned with the sleeves rolled up, and a tan and cream shaw to hide from the sun while walking between locations. It really wasn’t much clothing, it was very little in the way of accessories, and it was still steampunk. There are actually a lot of options for modifying your costume to be summer tolerable. Ask around for advise if you need help dressing down or coming up with a new outfit.