It feels like a new geek culture convention pops up every month these days. It used to be that people would have to travel a significant distance to get to and wait a full year in between different cons. Not anymore. There is a convention for everything now and it is glorious!
It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all as a newbie to the convention circuit. But, as awesome as it sounds to just throw on a Batman hoodie and head to the show, it is always better to prepare in advance to maximize your fun. Below is a list of things that convention goers new and old should think about before walking through those doors.
Take a look and be sure to let us know in the comments if you think we missed anything!
Conventions are often massive events hosted in sprawling locations. You will spend more time on your feet at these events than almost anything else. This makes protecting your feet crucial. Failure to do so will leave you tired, hurt, and could even lead to you needing medical attention.
The advice here is simple: Don’t buy new shoes right before the convention. Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes that are meant for walking and have been broken in.
I know. I get it. I sound like your Mom.
“Stay hydrated” is such common advice that it almost feels cliché. And yet I see people reeling from dehydration at every convention I go to. These events are long. The halls are hot. And people are often so busy that they forget to get even a little bit of water into their system.
This is especially true if you plan on drinking any alcohol during or after the event. If you aren’t properly hydrated then alcohol can make you pretty sick.
Make sure to pack a water bottle filled with cold water when you head to the show. You can take it a step further and freeze the bottle the night before so that your water stays cold throughout the day.
One Good Meal
You will have the temptation to spend the entire weekend eating vendor food and binging on granola bars. You will do yourself a world of good if you plan ahead and make sure that you eat at least one very good meal a day.
Conventions are often short. This means that our instinct it to run around and try to do more than we can. It is very important to pace yourself. Take your time. Take breaks. Make sure to actually rest while you are doing things like waiting in line and eating. You don’t have to do everything that you want to do on the first day.
Have a Plan
Most conventions will publish a list of exhibitors, a schedule, and/or a floor map well in advance of the event. Make sure that you take advantage of all of that available information and make a plan.
First, identify the handful things of things that you absolutely MUST see/do during the show and block out time for them. You’ll likely need to show up early and wait in line for panels, signings, exclusive merchandise, etc.
Second, make a list of things that you would like to do as time allows. This list doesn’t need to be huge, but it is a great way to make sure that you don’t forget a neat exhibitor because the shining lights distracted you. This kind of list will help keep you focused.
Lastly, remind yourself before the show that it is physically impossible to do everything. You are going to have to skip/miss out on some things. It is just the nature of the beast.
The Ideal Go Bag
Most people who go to conventions don’t have the luxury of having a hotel room nearby. This means that those without a room will need to carry everything they need for the day with them for the duration of the show.
I like to think about preparing for a convention with the same mindset that I would for a very long hike. That’s a pretty apt comparison when you consider how much walking you do in these massive show floors. This means that you need to pay special attention to comfort and weight. If you overload your backpack inefficiently with things you don’t need you will end up suffering for it. Again, remember, this is a convention, not a tough mudder.
With that in mind, these are some of the items I recommend keeping in your backpack when you head to the show.
Cell phone battery pack and charger – These are pretty cheap to find at this point and can be a lifesaver. Most convention centers have notoriously bad cell service so your phone will almost always be struggling to find a signal. This drains batteries quicker than normal. Having a battery pack to help recharge your phone is a pretty big deal.
Snacks – Food at conventions is always ridiculously expensive. The lines can also limit your options significantly. Packing hearty snacks for yourself will go a long way towards keeping you happy during your show. Don’t just throw a candy bar into your backpack though. Make sure to include something with protein to help prevent a sugar crash.
Water– I mentioned it above and I’m going to mention it again. Pack a water bottle in your bag and remember to use it. Trust me. You will be a much happier person for it.
Medications – Don’t forget your meds. I’m not talking about your prescriptions either. Those should go without saying. You will be on your feet for most of a weekend so it is very likely that your legs, feet, and back will be sore at the end of a long day. Make sure to pack some of your preferred pain reliever (I’m talking Aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve here people… don’t get funky with me.)
Contact information – You can put this on an index card and put it in an inside pocket if you want to protect it, but make sure you have something remind you the contact information for your friends. This might sound silly, but go ahead and test yourself. Do you know your best friend’s actual cell phone number? Chances are that you don’t. Make sure you have it.
These re just some of our tips for making sure you enjoy the conventions you attend. But, we didn’t mention everything. Sound off in the comments and share your advice!