After having gone to conventions for a while now, I’ve learned a variety of tips that help get the most out of a con-going experience. Stick to these top ten, and you’ll have a great time.
One: Make a plan. Plan to be at whatever event you want to attend at least an hour early. Don’t plan a back-to-back schedule. You won’t be able to go simply from one event right into another. Just plan that you’ll have to wait in line for a while. It’s a great time to strike up a conversation with your like-minded compatriots or pick up some street passes on your Nintendo 3DS.
Two: Plan for your plan to fall apart. You won’t make everything you want to go to. Don’t let it ruin your experience if you miss an event. Go check out something else. Kill some time in a gaming room or a dealer hall. You can even try coming back to the event you couldn’t get into later. Some people leave an event early, which allows late-comers to still get in. After all, something is better than nothing.
Three: Try new things. When you open up your schedule, highlight everything that might be a slight interest. Even if the times conflict. You never know what you might get into and who you might meet. Follow friends to events you might not have considered. If you’re out and about, expand your fandom to become a more well-rounded geek.
Four: Research your hotel. Especially checking out policies and checking luggage if you need it. The last day of a con is still a busy day. Checking out and dealing with your luggage will take a large chunk out of your day. If your hotel can hold your luggage for you, that’ll save you some hassle.
Five: Bring cash. Cards are super convenient, but cash gives you a better visual of how much you’re spending. Plus, it’s easier to tip your housekeeping staff and bell staff at your hotel, which you should definitely do after the mess you left. You know what you did.
Six: Take a break. It’s ok to have hours of your day with nothing planned. Stay in your room. Eat. Nap. Maybe your convention even runs content on a host hotel’s TV channel so you can catch up on events you missed or some hilarious skits.
Seven: Bring some snacks. Food can get expensive. You can be lucky with cons like Dragon Con that have fairly affordable food courts and restaurants nearby, but you don’t even want just that all weekend. Bring some granola bars or fruit to start the day with.
Eight: Peruse the dealer halls and artist alleys, but save shopping for later. The dealers and the artists are constants at convention, going on every day. At your slow points in your schedule, you can shop around, but sometimes you might hit some better deals on the last day. Be careful though, because you do run the risk of not finding as many items of interest waiting that long.
Nine: Know who you want to see and communicate. One of the joys about convention going is seeing people you don’t usually see. Large shows like Dragon Con or Comic Con pull people from across the country or even world. If you know people who are going that you’ll want to see, talk to them to work something out. Otherwise your weekend might be full of missed encounters and quick hallway passes.
Ten: Do something. Conventions aren’t simply passive experiences. Play a game, run a panel, cosplay, do photoshoots, meet people, even try volunteering. Going to a convention is like going on a vacation. Sure, you can sit around and watch all weekend, but the truly memorable ones are where you have adventures. Go be adventurous.
Editor’s Note:</strong>It can all seem overwhelming but remember, you’re among friends, sometimes a lot of r4iends depending on the convention you’ve decided to be a part of, so ask questions, ask for help, and like Niko says, be adventurous.