Whether this is your first rodeo or you are a convention veteran, you can do a number of things that will help you get through the madness and have a great time. Below are seven tips that we found were life savers for covering the necessities. Follow these and you’ll be on your way to staying happy and healthy all weekend long.
Book your hotel early
Though you may not sleep much, you will need to crash eventually (or at least have a place to stow all that swag you’ve gathered). Overall, the larger the con you’re attending, the earlier you will want to get that hotel room or Airbnb booked. If you want to stay in a host hotel or closer to the venue, count on a higher price tag. Host hotels can easily run over $1,000 for a four night stay and typically sell out within hours of becoming available.
Think about what will make your stay comfortable, considering things like handicap accessibility, budget, party size, and how much space you’ll need to put on your life-size Wookiee suit. Some groups share hotel rooms at the convention’s host hotels, packing out floor space to lower costs. If you’re ok with a commute, you’ll be able to find more options (and maybe a sink all to yourself) with a short taxi or subway ride. We went through Airbnb and found a great house only ten minutes from the train station. Bonus points if family will let you crash with them AND feed you.
Bring some cash, and keep it secure
A number of vendors won’t take cards, and the ATM’s on site will quickly run dry. Head to your local ATM before you leave for con to avoid the no-cash hassle. I found $200 to be a good amount for the weekend to cover no-card expenses. As a bonus, you can more easily tell what you have left to spend if you’re on a budget.
On another note, keep your cash where you can get to it but no one else can (read: not in the front pocket of your easy-to-open backpack where it will get snatched). While most of the people you meet at a convention are amazing, any large gathering will attract its share of pickpockets.
Pack some snacks & plenty of water
Food around the convention is the second most overpriced thing you’ll find. So whether your holding up a wall to take a breather from the crowd or getting the munchies waiting in line, you will go a long way to ensuring you don’t get all hangry with a bag of snacks in tow. I got hangry. Many Bothans died.
My go-to’s throughout the weekend were meal replacement bars and dry foods like trail mix (protein packed to stay full longer).
Water is the most overpriced thing you’ll find at a con. Take your own water bottle with a good seal and refill at your leisure. I lived by this hydro flask, which kept my water cold most of the day, but any water bottle is fine. Test the seal first. If it’s not secure, it will make an unholy mess of everything you’re carrying.
That coke machine you see across the way is probably empty. If it’s not, do you really want to pay $2.50 for what you could be hauling around for free?
Beware Con Crud and other ailments
Pack that hand sanitizer and take your Flintstones. Lots of bodies means lots of germs, and Post-Con Depression is bad enough without a head cold.
We also brought along some tissues and OTC medication in our bags to ward off headaches, allergy attacks and coughs. Or, if you’re cosplaying steampunk or historical fashion, a handkerchief or two is a nice touch.
I tossed all the above in a ziplock bag in the bottom of my backpack. The headache medicine came in handy when my wig started getting heavy. I doubled up when my costume contact lenses started wearing my eyes out.
Wear proper footwear
I will rock a corset all damn day, but for the love of all that is holy, I cannot abide foot pain.
Do your feet a huge favor and wear comfortable athletic shoes/sneakers as much as possible. I’d avoid sandals, unless you like getting your feet stepped on.
If you are in cosplay, keep in mind that those stiletto heels will hurt after a while, and maybe stow away your favorite pair of Converses for later. Unless you’re Catwoman. Always be Catwoman.
Go potty before you head to the convention for the day
You aren’t four anymore, but mama was right and the point still stands. The last thing you want is to be in line for a panel, or in an intricate costume, and suddenly need to go.
It’s also good to have a general idea where the bathrooms are near the events you want to attend and go before the need strikes or you’re in a hurry.
Prepare to wait in line
Whether you’re waiting for a bathroom, lunch, or that really popular panel with the big name celebrity you just have to see, be prepared for lots of waiting in line.
If you can manage it, a book, a 3DS, or a phone with Netflix and YouTube can go a long way to help the hour pass by.
Or, you know, strike up a conversation with that guy standing next to you in line. Chances are, he’s just as psyched about this panel as you are.
You’ll want to keep those devices running while you wait by investing in a couple of power banks. Otherwise, they tend to go dead faster than you think they will, usually right when you need to take notes at a panel, find your party, stay entertained, get a shot of that amazing cosplayer, or call an Uber. I got a couple for free from the husband’s last work conference, but they go for pretty cheap and are fairly easy to obtain.