Ah, convention season is upon us! If you are going to your first convention this year, here are some helpful tips so you can make the most of your experience! Remember, be safe and have fun!
1. Map it out
If you aren’t familiar with the convention center, be sure to use maps and ask for help finding things. Most conventions are held in large convention centers and you could be walking for a very long time in the wrong direction if you aren't careful.
2. Plan ahead
Use the conventions program to plan your day(s) before you even hit the convention floor. Know what events are being held where and when; as well as, celebrity meet & greets' what panels are going on and which ones you'd like to attend; and parties, opening and closing ceremonies, etc. Having a map of the convention will come in handy for this, as well, since a lot of the time panels can be found on separate floors from the main convention. Also, just know that lines for panels and screenings can get long, so you'll want to plan to some line-time to make sure you get a good seat (or a seat at all!).
3. Get there early…
…because you don't want to waste precious time in line to get your admittance badge! The lines to get your badge can get super long, especially on opening day; and then, you have to get in line to enter the convention itself. So, plan to be there pretty early before doors open so you don't waste a minute more than you have to on this step.
4.Bring a camera but ask permission before snapping pictures
Cosplayers want to show off their hard work, and many don't mind the photo opts; however, you need to ask permission. They may not want to have their photo taken at that moment, and they are well within their rights to tell you "no." However, you are going to see some amazing things at the con and you will regret not having a means to document it all.
5. Keep your phone charged
Don't have a camera? No problem as these days every cellphone comes equipped with one. However, you are going to want to make sure you keep it charged! Pack a charger to take into the convention with you and when you want to sit down and take a break, find an outlet to sit by and charge up!
6. Hit up the ATM before you go
There may not be an ATM at the convention, plus if there is, you'll probably have to pay ridiculous fees to use it. Bring your cash with you, just be mindful of how you carry it on your person. Also, check to see if the vendors accept credit/debit cards. More and more of them are using Square Readers to make transactions easier.
7. Don't waste money on the first day
If you are going to be going to multiple days, don't spend all your money on the first day. If you are only there for one day, then wait until the last hour or two before you go to spend that cash. Make your rounds at the merchants and check out the goods, and be sure to check out the Artist Alley (my favorite place to be at a convention!) and make mental notes to yourself about what you want to buy. Then, prioritize and spend accordingly. Keep in mind, you can get some great deals on the last day of a convention as sellers and artists start to discount their wares.
8. Eat good food and drink plenty of water
You need to keep your energy up because you are going to be doing A LOT OF WALKING. Drink plenty of water during the convention, even bringing in your own (if the convention allows it, be sure to check the rules). Also, while it is tempting to just throw a bag of chips and some candy in your bag, you are going to need actual nourishment. Bring food to your hotel and eat there when you can to save money. Convention food is expensive and not very good for you. Have some healthy snacks to help you (and your tummy) make it through the con.
9. Don't be "the stinky kid (adult)"
Shower. Every day. Even if you don't shower every day at home, do it while you are going to the convention. You're probably walking a lot more than usual and are in a crowded place. You need to be clean. Also, wear deodorant. Please. For the sake of everyone else within a three foot radius of you, just put some on. I actually recommend bring some with you in your bag because if you are going to be there all day, and if it is a hot day, you're going to want it. Trust me.
10. Wear the right footwear
Like I've said, you are going to be walking. A lot. Wear shoes that you know you will be comfortable in and will provide you with the support you need for all this wear-and-tear. Even if you are cosplaying, keep in mind that you will be doing a lot walking too, so bring some back up shoes.