50. Convention Tips and Tricks

My friend Amy over at Geek with Curves has this GREAT post on how to get through a convention.

Whether it’s your first, fifth, or bajillionth time attending a, you will probably learn something that will make your con experience a little better the next time around. I continue to figure things out and pick up tips from others to make life easier at conventions. If it’s your first time going to a con, don’t be dumb like I was and not read any of these kind of posts before hand. I would have saved myself a lot of frustrated moments at my first SDCC if I would have done some research and realized important things like the food at the San Diego convention center sucks. There are lots of posts and articles out there about this, I encourage you to look those up too.

Some of these tips are convention specific, but most of them are applicable to all and any kind of conventions. I am sure you guys have awesome tips to share, please add yours in the comments and I will tack them on to this post (with your name/link of course). I would love to have a gigantic list to share with the world.

– Wear comfortable shoes. No, really. You’ll be walking a lot. If you’re cosplaying in stilettos, carry a pair of flip flops for when your feet start aching.

– Pick a comfy bag/backpack for the con. Even if you don’t intend to, you’ll probably end up buying things. If you’re like me, several things that are usually books. If it’s a new bag, test it out before you leave. Put a handful of books in it and do a few laps around your house. Your shoulders and back will thank you later.

– Get organized. Look at the panels and check out the list of artists and exhibitors. Pick first and second choices for panels, don’t forget to set aside time for lines. Print an exhibit hall map and highlight the booths you want to visit most. It’s easy to fall into a zombie shuffle in the hall and miss your favorites. If you want to commission an artist, go do that first before his or her schedule for the con is full. Realize that you are not going to be able to do everything you want, and that’s okay.

– Pack protein bars and bottled water. San Diego convention center concessions are worthless (they make a bad soft pretzel). You’ll be thankful for the snacks in the fourth hour of waiting in line for Kevin Smith. Phoenix Comicon actually had decent concessions on site, but I was still grateful for granola bars in my purse.

– Drink said water. I had one of the worst headaches of my life after a day of dehydration at SDCC. The only time when a ton of water may not be appropriate is if you are wearing a costume that doesn’t make bathroom breaks a fun time.

– Keep a plastic folder and sheet protectors in the giant messenger bag you take to the convention hall. You’ll want to keep business cards, flyers, comics, and prints in good shape. These poly file jackets are my favorites.

– Bring cash. The line for the ATM is sometimes long or at some conventions, it’s just not super close. A lot of vendors will take cards, but not as many as you would think in Small Press and Artist’s Alley.

– Don’t be a zombie. At multi-day conventions, it’s so easy to push yourself because you feel like you have to see it all. You’re not going to. Let it go. It’s not worth it if you are walking around like a zombie not even absorbing any of it. It’s also not worth it if you are a grumpy, angry mess. Cons are sensory overload, and your body and brain are not forgiving of it. It’s okay to miss stuff, I promise.

– Figure out the available parking and transportation before hand. Some conventions may have ample, affordable, and close parking but not all of them. If you’re not staying at a nearby hotel, go to the convention site and read about the options – trolleys, light rail, etc. I know, research sucks, but it will get you to the exhibit call that much faster.

– If you’re cosplaying, pack a small bag for fixes. It will depend on the costume(s) you’re wearing, but bobby pins, a sewing kit, super glue, safety pins, elastic, and a mini stapler would not be amiss in addition to extra make-up if needed.

– Have pens, a Sharpie, and a sketchbook in your bag if possible.

Tell me your tips!

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