Can you survive a convention?

Tips and tricks to survive a convention

By Michelle McAlpine - Creative Services Intern

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In case you didn’t know, there are TWO conventions that are coming up, so it’s time to prepare! ComiqueCon is happening on Saturday, October 13th, while Youmacon is from November 1st to November 4th. While cons are SO MUCH FUN to go to, they can also be draining. Your legs will hurt from walking around so much, your wallet will hurt because you’re buying so much artwork, so it’s best to take measures ahead of time to survive a convention. Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve learned from years of going to conventions.

1.You have still human needs at a convention.

So you’re walking around and having a great time, right? You have a whole bunch of panels to go to, stuff to buy, and other events happening throughout the day. But you’re human,  you’re going to get hungry. Pack some granola bars. There are typically fast food places at conventions where you can sit and eat, but the price of food for the weekend can get pretty expensive fairly quickly. And those lines are LONG. Pack a water bottle. You’ll get thirsty, trust me. The dealer’s room can get hot pretty quickly, as you’re walking around a room full of people.

2. Budget, budget, budget.

I mentioned how food can get pretty expensive throughout an entire weekend, right? That’s not the only thing that can get expensive. The dealers room is a highly dangerous place when you’re armed with a credit card. I’ve dropped $200 on the first day of a three-day convention. I learned this lesson the hard way. Unless there’s a vendor that’s only there for that day, or there’s a limited amount of the figurines that you want, you can wait. The best way is to have a limit to what you can spend in a day on food and souvenirs. Cash is great to have with you so that you can keep this budget, just be sure to keep it safe. There are sometimes fees that come with using a credit card to buy stuff from the vendors, so having cash means having a little more in your pocket.

Assuming pockets are an option...

3. Bags and pockets!

You’ll be carrying stuff throughout the day, it’s a given. Have a bag that’s easy to carry and that will keep your belongings safe. Sometimes people have the tendency to steal stuff. It’s unfortunate,  but be prepared for it. Also make sure that your bag isn’t TOO big, as you will probably wack people with it. But as well as bags, there are POCKETS. If you have a cosplay, you know what’s super fun to include? SECRET POCKETS. You can put them anywhere. If you have a prop that you have to carry around, make use of that prop and put a pocket in it! Just make sure whatever pocket you add on is securely attached and will prevent your valuables from falling out with zippers or buttons.

4. Stay organized.

When you’re at a convention, there are certain things that you need to be able to reach easily without having to dig through a bag. Always keep your badge handy, as you need it to get into all the fun places. Make sure your cell phone is handy so that you can find your friends or play games while waiting for a panel to start. Keep your cash in a place that’s secure, but also easy to grab a hold of when you’re in the dealers room. Organize your bag or pockets in such a way that the stuff you’ll need is near the top while the stuff you will occasionally need is near the bottom. Keeping organized is a challenge, but it’s worth it when you experience the chaos that is a convention.

5. Dress for rain, snow, and heatwaves.

We’re in Michigan. The weather changes frequently. One year I went to a convention where it was freezing, another year I felt like passing out from the heat. This especially applies if you are in cosplay, but try and dress for any environment. Layers are usually ideal. If your cosplay involves wearing a jacket, opt for a short-sleeve shirt when things get warm. Bring gloves that match your cosplay. The fun thing about cosplay is that you get to be creative, so be creative by having your cosplay be adaptable.

6. Have respect for other convention goers.

When you go to conventions, some of the cosplays you see will be amazing. You’ll see some of your favorite characters, and it’s hard not to get excited about seeing someone who shares your interests! So you want to take a picture of them, right? Well you probably can, but not until you ASK. You must ask a person if you can take their picture. While the vast majority will say yes, you have to respect the people that don’t want their pictures taken. Also apply the lessons you learned as a little kid when you go to a convention; keep your hands to yourselves, respect peoples’ space, and if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. 

What tips did I miss? Give me your suggestions in the comments below! Later on, I will give cosplayers a list of things to bring that come in handy at a convention.