Convention season has arrived (at least for me it has!), and you want to be prepared for the best con experience possible. Whether you’re cosplaying or going as your awesome self, here are a few tips to make your con adventures fantastic. Plus, I’ve created a checklist you can download: Your Ultimate Con Checklist!
Do you have your passes?
Stupid question, I know. But think about how much it would suck if you’d purchased passes ahead of time and then forgot to bring them. If you’re buying passes at the venue, do you know where to go? If you’re picking up your passes at the venue, do you know where to go? Be sure to give yourself enough time to wait in line, regardless of whether you have your passes, you’re buying your passes, or you’re picking them up.
Leave the book at home.
Unless you’re getting it autographed, that is. It may be tempting to bring a book to read. After all, you’re going to be waiting in line at some point. However, if you’re not with a friend, why not introduce yourself to the people in line next to you? This may be one of the few times in your life that you’re at an event populated entirely with people that share your same interests. Why not make some new friends?
Wear comfortable shoes.
You’re going to be walking. A lot. And probably standing a lot too. Wear comfy shoes that you’ve broken in already, that you KNOW aren’t going to chew your feet into bloody stumps. If you’re cosplaying, think of ways to disguise comfy shoes so they match your costume. Or, bring a spare pair of shoes (like flip flops or slippers) you can change into when you’re considering taking off those costume shoes and setting them on fire.
Eat a good breakfast.
Eat before going to the con, preferably something with some protein and some carbs. Start your day off right, on a full stomach. Nothing sucks more than passing out because of low blood sugar. Seriously. I’ve seen this happen. It’s scary and not fun. Eat breakfast.
If you can, that is. Some venues have rules about outside food, but you ought to be able to at least squirrel in some granola bars. You’ll save money and time if you’ve got your own snacks because you won’t have to leave the venue or wait in line to pay $8 for a cold and greasy slice of pizza.
Bring bottled water.
Again, some venues have weird rules, so check before you bring your favorite superhero reusable water bottle, unless you’re willing to risk having some gate attendant take it home after confiscating it. It’s crucial to stay hydrated throughout the day, and water is always your best bet. Plus, once you’ve finished off your bottled water, there’s bound to be a drinking fountain somewhere you can use to refill. You’ll save time and money too. Plus, you thought it would suck to pass out due to low blood sugar? Passing out because of dehydration sucks just as much. I’ve seen this happen too. Still scary. Still not fun. Don’t do it. I promise passing out will totally ruin your day. Bring bottled water instead.
Pack lunch in a cooler and leave it in the car or hotel room.
Once more, you’re going to save loads of time and money if you bring your own meals. And, if you can’t bring food into the venue, having a cooler in the car or hotel room is the next best thing. You won’t have to go far for lunch, and you won’t be spending half your budget on cafeteria food. Bleh.
Bring a friend, and have a plan in case you get separated.
Big cons have thousands of attendees and it can get easy to be lost in the crush. Have a plan to meet your group at a designated spot if you get separated and can’t find them. Usually there’s an info booth or an easily recognizable entrance that can make a great meeting place that’s easy to find and remember.
Bring some bandaids.
Be prepared and bring some bandaids. You’ll always be the hero if you’re the one with the bandaids, especially if someone needs them because the awesome shoes they’re wearing are chewing their feet into bloody stumps. Yuck.
Who in your group is taking pictures?
Do you need to bring your camera? And if you are, where are you going to keep it?
Make sure your cellphone is charged up.
Start the day with a full battery, especially if you’re taking pictures with your phone. Also, you’ll be able to text people in your group if you get separated.
If you’re cosplaying, have a plan for eating and drinking.
Are you wearing makeup or a prosthesis that’s going to make it difficult (or even impossible) to eat and drink? Have a plan! Maybe you don’t get into full regalia until after lunch Or, maybe you bring extra supplies so you can take off any makeup necessary to eat and drink, and then reapply your makeup.
Bring some Shout Wipes, especially if you’re cosplaying.
That ketchup stain is not going to look cool in pictures, but have a couple of Shout Wipes on hand will totally fix that problem. Plus, I’ve found Shout Wipes to work on getting out makeup staines too. You’ll always look your best if you’ve got some Shout Wipes (or the equivalent) on hand.
If you’re cosplaying, bring safety pins.
You don’t need a pack of 500, but have a dozen or so could come in handy in case of a costume malfunction. Plus, you can be the hero to other cosplayers that don’t have safety pins and need them!
If you’re cosplaying, bring double sided tape.
This can be a fast and easy (albeit temporary) fix for falling hems and shifting necklines. Will it last the whole day? Probably not, but it’s perfect for a quick and invisible fix for pictures.
Have something to carry your stuff in.
If you’re cosplaying, think about where you’re keeping your essentials and if you can coordinate this storage with the rest of your costume. You can never go wrong with a custom, matching cosplay bag. It’s zippered so your stuff will be safe, it’s got an adjustable strap, and it’s washable in case you get makeup on it. Plus, you can get a bag customized, and the extra cost isn’t that much (if there even is an extra cost). Contact me if you need a matching cosplay bag! If you’re not cosplaying, you still need a great bag to carry everything in. You’ll find some awesome options in my shop, bags that express your individuality and the fandoms you love, while still being functional, sturdy, and washable (no lasting con crud!). It’s easy to get a bag customized too, plus the extra cost (if there is one) is usually pretty minimal. Contact me if you’re need a custom bag to make your next convention super awesome.
If you’re cosplaying, practice your cosplay before the con.
Make sure everything fits the way it’s supposed to and that you have all the pieces to your costume. If you practice getting in and out of your costume before the con, you’ll know if you need help, and you’ll know how long it takes for you to get dressed. Yeah! No surprises for you when your Avenger buddies are assembling.
If you’re cosplaying, practice your hair and makeup before the con.
Know before you pack up stuff to get to the con what you need to do your hair and makeup and how long it will take. Even if you’re changing in your hotel room (or at home), do a practice run. You’ll be much more confident when it’s showtime, you won’t be rushed, and there won’t be any scary surprises (like, “Oh look! I’m allergic to this stuff I put on my face and now I’m puffing up like a blowfish. Yeah!)
If you’re cosplaying, don’t just practice getting into costume, hair and makeup. Practice getting out of it before the con.
Knowing before hand what it takes to transform back into your mild-mannered self will make it easy to answer your friends when they ask, “How long are you going to take, we’re hungry!” Plus, you’ll know exactly what you need to bring with you to take off your makeup. I find baby wipes are a quick way to remove most makeup, and then you can go back and wash your face more thoroughly later on if folks are in a rush.
Have a Plan B.
Even the most seasoned cosplayers, as well as con-goers, have had things go horribly awry. Bring a spare change of clothes (and shoes) just in case something terrible happens. You can leave them in the car or your hotel room, but that way you’ve got the option of changing back into your street clothes without having to leave the convention altogether.
Are there con-specific things you need to bring with you?
Are you vendor? Are you on a panel? Are you giving a presentation? If you’re not just an attendee, you may need to bring items specific to the con, like presentation materials. Or, if you’re planning on attending a couple of panels, you might want something to take notes with. Or, you may want to have some extra business cards on hand to pass around if the opportunity arises. Is there anything specific to YOU attending the con that requires you bring something?
If you’re driving, where are you going to park? And how much will it cost?
Some cons have free parking, others you’ve got to pay a fee. Check with the con organizers to see if you need to purchase a parking permit or pass, or if you need to bring cash with you to pay for a meter or to tip a valet. Make sure you build plenty of time into your schedule for finding parking.
Whew. That’s a lot to remember. Good thing I made you a checklist you can download and take with you!
I left room for you to add some things on the Checklist. What did I miss? Let me know in the comments or on my FB page.
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