Freeform Friday #2: 11 Tips to Survive a Con

Okay. So some of you will notice that I promised that I would post the day after Animefest and didn’t. This is honestly because I needed the time to recover from what was a very awesome and weird con. I got robbed, sang opera, heckled cosplayers as Dick Gumshoe, learned the secrets, and spoiled my nephew rotten all while getting some valuable contacts and information for promoting Pirates vs. Ninjas (but all that’s a story for another time). So after 4 straight days of that, you can imagine I needed some sleep.

Seeing as its been exactly a week since my last post, I’ll just start from where I left off. Of course, this means that I get to talk about the Convention experience with all of you and give you some tips on surviving your first con should you ever try it. So, without further ado, I present Dairun’s 11 Tips to Survive a Con!


#1. Bring Extra Food
This one is a bit hard to explain for people that have never been to a con, but your body seems to gain a completely different metabolism at a con. You can literally starve yourself most of the weekend and survive on just a couple sticks of pocky if you’ve been to enough of them. Of course, any veteran con-goer will tell you not to do this if you can avoid it. In reality, this mystery effect for most people is caused by general excitement and your body forgetting it’s hungry. So, even though you don’t feel hungry, you’re actually starving. This means that once you do get some rest or the excitement slows down, you’re going to crash hard if you haven’t been eating regularly. However, con and food court food is expensive, and your stomach may just have too many butterflies to eat all of it. So, just bring a few snacks along to keep your energy up.

#2. Don’t Buy Anything on the First Day
Sellers will offer you some pretty good deals day 1 in the dealer’s room if you spend enough time. Don’t give in though. The truth of the matter is that while cons are incredibly profitable for most vendors, they don’t want to carry their extra stock back. The later in the con it gets, the more likely they are to cut prices. My friends and I have managed to get some items as much as 75% off by buying them in the last hour on the last day. If you can live without it, wait for a sale.

#3. Travel in Groups
Conventions are hectic and easy to get lost in. Keeping near a buddy at all times can help you from getting completely lost and incapable of finding your way to your other friends to get home. If you have to go it alone, have a meet-up time or make sure your cellphone can get reception in the con.

#4. Cosplay is Hot (Literally)
If you’ve been to a con before, you’ve probably seen the people in their awesome costumes they’ve homemade. You may even be tempted to try it yourself some time. Here’s a HUGE warning though. Almost any costume will be extremely warm and force you to sweat… a lot. My most common costume is literally a button up shirt, pleated pants, and a lab coat. Even in a perfectly air conditioned con, this outfit is almost unbearable. The sheer volume of people in the convention center just raises the temperature. You can’t avoid the heat. However, you can do 2 things. First, take a shower every night to keep your costume from smelling like a New Jersey Dumpster, and second, drink water often to avoid dehydration and heat stroke. Almost every convention will keep plenty of water coolers handy. If they don’t, be sure to bring your own jug though.

#5. Get in Line Early for Major Events
Looking at any con schedule, it looks like there’s plenty of time to do what you want. However, all but the most obscure panels and events will have a line. If you don’t get there at least 15-30 minutes early, expect to sit in the back. For larger events, this can be worse than just not attending. So, make sure to get in line for the events you REALLY want to go to early.

#6. Hospitality Suites
A good number of major conventions keep what are called Hospitality suites. These are designated rooms for relaxing and getting away from the con. Learn their location and use them when things get intense.

#7. SLEEP! FOR GOD’S SAKE!
This should be a no-brainer, but most con-goers make this mistake their first time. There’ll be lots of cool late night events that you’ll want to go to, and this is fine, but you have to make sure to get sleep somewhere. At the time you may not feel tired, but once the adrenaline wears off, you’ll wish you had. It’s better to miss one cool panel or the opening of the dealer’s room and get the sleep you need when you need it. After all, you’ll have to get all that sleep back sometime, and Monday morning is usually too late.

#8. Watch your money
When you go into a con, designate an amount of money to spend and stick with it. Cons can be like Vegas for some people. They just don’t know when to quit. I’ve personally known people that have spent over $1,000 dollars at a con (before hotel cost). Ultimately, 700 of what they spent it on was never used after the con. Make a budget BEFORE you hit the con and stick with it. Small little micro costs at the con will whittle you down fast.

#9. Pack the Bare Essentials
If you got a hotel room, it can be tempting to bring 2 suitcases, a sleeping bag, a pillow, and maybe a cooler. Remember though. Check-out for hotels is noon. If you plan on leaving the city on the last day of the con, you will have to carry all of your luggage for the entire convention. So, don’t bring more than you’re comfortable lugging around for 6 hours. Pack light. Also, don’t forget that the thing you buy will need to get in your suitcases as well. Leave room.

#10. Read the Con Schedule Ahead of Time
Most cons post their schedules online a couple of weeks ahead of time. Download it and determine the events you most want to go to. In such a hectic atmosphere, a lack of fore-planning can mean missing most of the things you wanted to see. By thinking ahead, you can maximize your experience.

#11. Go Crazy
Cons are big gatherings of people that think like you. A lot of people tend to tense up and get shy at cons. Don’t. There’s lots of fun to be had joining in in the shenanigans in the hallways; Dancing, singing, random high fives, 200 man conga lines, contests, fights with foam bats, and other randomness. Just don’t do anything illegal, and you’ll ultimately be fine. The worst that can happen is you get a bit embarrassed and have a story to tell. So, let yourself go and have some fun.

Anyway, a lot of these should be obvious for veteran con goers, but a lot of people new to the whole “con thing” should heed these tips and take them to heart. I hope this helps anyone reading that’s thinking of going to a con for the first time.

*sigh* Now back to a regular update schedule. See you tomorrow!

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2 Responses to Freeform Friday #2: 11 Tips to Survive a Con

  1. Kiroth6 says:

    Wait, Wait you were robbed? How did that happen?

    • Dairun says:

      Let’s just say it involved a soda machine costume, a dollar, and an excited little girl that forgot to come back afterward with the soda she promised me. I’m not exactly going to call the police on it.