With summer approaching, and con season on it’s way I thought I’d share some of my tips for convention survival, this applies to massive productions like Wizard World Comic Con and indie cons alike. Heed this advice and by the end of the day you may be a little less worse for the wear.
Preparing ahead of time
Sleep is your friend, a well-rested con goer is a happy con goer. Do yourself and your companions a favor and get a decent amount of sleep the night before the con. I know you’re excited but take some melatonin or something, tired grumpy zombies are only fun when it’s a costume.
Wear something comfortable, you’re going to be walking around, a lot, and your feet will hurt by the end of the day. If you’re cosplaying, try to make practical choices wherever possible. A good cosplay is not worth 10 hours of chafing.
Arrive early to get your badge and check in, find your friends and get a rough game plan going as to what to do if you lose each other, where to meet up. Get in lines as early as possible.
Know where you want to go, and how to get there
This is another no brainer. If you can, check out the dealers list ahead of time, know the panel schedule and who you want to meet. Plan on long lines, if someone really special is there, like Bruce Campbell, expect to line up at 4AM the day of the signing. No I’m not kidding. (I’m looking at you Monster Mania)
Bring your bag of holding
Pockets, you’ll need them. Messenger bag, back pack, big ass purse. You will want them by the end of the day, where will you carry all that swag otherwise? Plus, it helps prevent sticky fingered ass-hats from pinching your stuff.
Bring a camera / fully charged phone
A camera will take the best pictures, but phones are more convenient, plus have the added advantages of being able to post your con selfies directly to social media, and I think we both know that if you get a shot of yourself with Norman Reedus or Nathon Fillion that shit needs to be circulating on the internet ASAP.
Don’t touch someone you don’t know without their express permission. This should be obvious, but to MANY people, it is not. Some people will have cool costumes, or neat props that you’d love to get all touchy on with your fingers, ASK PERMISSION!
Speaking of touching
Hey, remember when swine flu broke out at PAX in 2009? Want to avoid that? Wash your hands! Carry sanitizer in your bag of holding, avoid handshakes where possible. Fist / elbow bump, salute, wave, do the hustle, just generally avoid touching people as often as you can, unless you’re familiar with them and know they’re plague free.
The Dealers room
Love is a battlefield, and so too is the dealer room. It’s crowded, there’s lots of people/elbows/children/props to navigate and it’s probably hot in there too. Many of the tables will offer the same variations of items so it’s always a good move to do a lap before making any purchases. If you’re attending multiple days, try to hold out to the last day for buying goodies, you’ll find it’s a lot easier on your wallet. Alternatively, some dealers will haggle, but as in all things, no means no so if their prices are firm either deal with it or move on to another vendor/artist.
Cleanliness is next to godliness
If someone asks you if you’re a god, you say yes! This will be more credible if you’re not amid a cloud of con funk. Do yourself and the other attendees a favor and shower regularly, bring extra deodorant. Change your clothes/costume each day of the con to aid in funk-fending.
Keep fuel in your body
You need to eat food, and not just the junk food available at the convention. Bring something with you like a protein bar, or granola to keep your energy up while you’re circulating the event plus this will save you some money over all.
Your body needs water. Make sure you have a bottle with you, trust me. You’re going to sweat like a hooker in church and you’ll need to replace the water you’re losing. If you take medications bring them with you, if you need an inhaler keep it on you, or require an epi-pen for emergencies you should have it with you at all times.
Emergency cash is also a good idea to have on hand, just in case something happens after you’ve blown your budget on that replica sword.
A Word on Rules
The rules of the convention are in place for your safety as well as the safety of others. It’s a good idea to read them before the event. Most cons have very liberal rules, and none of them impede your good times. In the words of Wil Wheaton; “Don’t be a dick.”
Having fun is the main goal of any convention outing. So, my biggest tip would be to try and keep cool, hydrated and happy. Don’t let other people stress you out, and enjoy yourself