Okay, so this started off as a blog post…and it remains a blog post but I also think I’m going to make it a new section on the actual blog. It got way longer than I meant it to but that’s okay.
Because a nerd’s heaven is the convention…its a place where you can go to finally be YOU, and nerd out and see all those fabulous celebrities that you worship from home. Its the place where people won’t roll their eyes at your geek tattoos or your cosplay outfit. Its home.
But it takes some navigation to make it through a con successfully and that’s where this blog came in. With the help of some of my nerdy friends, I came up with this list of do’s and don’t’s for conventions and with it, you can have the confidence to go to ANY con and rock it :D
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DO: Dress to Impress
Cosplay, cosplay, cosplay! Dress up! Don’t be afraid to dress up because so many people do and its fun! If you show up in regular ol’ Joe Shmoe clothes, you’re going to be sad that you left your super badass Black Widow costume back at home. Be creative, get crazy!
And don’t feel like you need to dress as Spiderman or Batman, just because its a comic convention. Throw on a Marty McFly (shout out to the badass The Nerdy Girlie for that one), or a Disney princess, or an old school cartoon cartoon. Again, be creative and have fun.
DON’T: Be Unrealistic
Keep in mind that when you’re wearing a cosplay outfit that you’re going to be walking ALL day. You’re going to be waiting in lines, and navigating through crowds. You may want to wear a crazy awesome costume, but do remember that half way through the day, you may be sweaty and incredibly uncomfortable. Be aware that those sexy stilettos that you’re wearing for your Emma Frost costume will look super cute until you’ve been walking in them alllll day.
Now I’m not saying to ditch those things but I am saying that you need to think of these things. Be realistic about your day. Bring a separate change of clothes, bring a second pair of shoes. Be comfortable while you’re at the conventions because there are a lot of lines and a lot of walking. Wear comfy shoes, and if you’re cosplaying, BRING comfy shoes. Your feet will thank you!
DO: Plan your Day Well!
There are SO many things to do while you are at a convention and sometimes its hard to hit them all. However, you can manage to get a lot done if you plan ahead. A lot of conventions put up their panel schedule before the actual convention. Print out the schedule or keep the program handy, take a look at some of the things you want to do and plan your day from there. Some conventions even have a feature where you can create YOUR schedule, which is super handy.
Also make sure to plan some time to hit the floor of a convention, and some time to hit the vendor area of the convention. There’s always A LOT going on, and it takes a good chunk of time to get a good fill of the convention floor and the vendor area.
DON’T: Be One A Line/Seat Hogger
Like I said before, there is A LOT of things to do at a convention, and its sometimes hard managing to do everything that you want. That being said, be respectful when it comes to lines and saving spots. I’m not saying don’t save spots in lines, or seats in panels. That’s okay, but be respectful about it. Don’t save spots in line for more than a few people. Don’t block out an entire row of seats at a panel. Its just plain disrespectful, and you’re not going to win points with anyone. Most panel rooms do NOT clear out inbetween panels so saving seats for that many people, when someone really wants to see this particular panel…its just not right.
DO: Take Care of Yourself
This means eating, staying hydrated and sleeping well enough the night before. I’m not saying don’t party hard, because that’s fun. But there’s a time and a place for that. Gallifrey One is a party con, but its also a convention held in a hotel, so if the party gets too much, or you need a nap during the day, you can hop in an elevator and hit the hotel room for a nap. Not all conventions have that convenience so make sure to get a good night’s sleep. You don’t want to be too tired when you have a whole day of awesomeness ahead of you, and you don’t want to yawn in front of that hot actor you’ve been waiting two hours in line to see’s face, now do you?
Make sure to drink LOTS of water, bring a water bottle, or canteen! You can usually find water fountains in the convention centers and you’ll be able to refill it. Drinks, even water, are usually VERY expensive. The same goes for food. Food at the conventions is not cheap and you don’t want to be spending ten to fifteen dollars on food when you could be spending that on a new Star Wars poster or that Star Trek box set that you’ve been eyeing for years.
Pack snacks, protein bars work really well to curb your appetite. If you are staying in a hotel room, keep snacks and fixings to make a meal, especially if you have a fridge. Bring fixings for sandwiches and stuff. The weekend is NOT about eating fantastic food; its about enjoying the convention and sometimes eating sandwiches three times a day is part of that. If you do eat, eat outside the convention center. See if there are any fast food or cheap restaurants within walking distance and hit those up. Your tummy will be happy and your money can be spent on way better things.
DON’T: Not Shower!
Comic conventions have a distinct smell…and that is the smell of BAD ODOR. I know we’re geeks and nerds and that not all of us spend a lot of time in front of the mirror, or in front of the closet, figuring out our look for the day. That’s fine, I get that. And I know that you want to spend as much as you can at the actual convention. That being said, DO NOT avoid personal hygiene. Please, please, please SHOWER and if for some reason you just don’t want to waste your time showering, then please wear deodorant. Keep your fellower con goers in mind, and keep the body odor to yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to talk to a really cool person but they’re just stinking up the room like Pig Pen on Charlie Brown.
A good note as well is to bring hand sanitizer. You shake a LOT of hands through out the day, whether you’re shaking the hands of a celebrity or just shaking the hands of someone who you meet while waiting in line for a panel. Everyone’s germs are being spread like crazy and the last thing you want to do is catch a cold on the first day of a convention. Hand sanitizer is a GREAT idea.
DO: Think Preemptively
Buy your badges WELL in advance. I don’t know how many times I tell people, tickets for such-and-such conventions are going on sale, and when they don’t get tickets, there’s all this anger and disappointment! Buy the badges as soon as you can! Keep in mind when badges go on sale, and plan head. Also keep in mind when badges go up in price! Buy them early and you’ll save yourself from having to pay double for a badge than what someone else paid.
With that, book your hotel well in advance too; sometimes even BEFORE the badges go on sale. Keep on top of when hotels will be releasing the rooms for that particular weekend. If you don’t stay on top of those things, the hotels will fill up fast, and you end up paying for a hotel that’s either a hefty walking distance away, or requires you to drive your car to the center. While this doesn’t sound too bad, the parking at conventions can be anywhere from ten dollars to THIRTY dollars a day, and do you really want to waste that much money on parking because your hotel is too far away? I don’t think so.
One more thing: if there is a badge pick-up the night before the convention starts, try and get there for that! Usually you can get it pretty quickly and you won’t have to wait in the LONG lines that can exist on the very first day of the convention.
DO: Meet New People
This is one of the BEST parts about hitting up a convention. Finally, a place where you’re surrounded by people who finally UNDERSTAND you. They totally get your references and your excitement over a new movie or book or whatever. They get it! So meet up with people, get your nerd on, have different discussions about your fandom, make FRIENDS. Share your etsy page, or your blog, or geek group. I’m looking into getting some business cards for this blog to hand out to people when I meet them.
DON’T: Be RUDE!
Please don’t be disrespectful of those who like fandoms that are opposite of yours, or are of fandoms that you are particularly fandoms of. There’s just nothing more disrespectful than making fun of someone because of the fandom that they like. Everyone is there to have a good time and to represent the things they like and there’s nothing worse than having that guy in the Batman costume making fun of you because you’re wearing a Twilight shirt. Just don’t do it.
Also, its okay to get into discussions with people, I do that all the time! Its friendly and its fun to debate back and forth, but again, respect. Don’t criticize people for their ideas or beliefs, don’t get in their face and don’t be MEAN! I’ve seen actual arguments and fights at conventions and that just shouldn’t be happening.
One last thing: I know you’re there to have a good time, and see all the panels you’ve been looking forward to, and meet your favorite celebrities, but if you’re in a badass cosplay outfit, keep in mind that people are going to LOVE it and APPRECIATE it and that they’ll want to take a picture of it. Its always really disappointing when someone in a real cool costume refuses to take pictures. Stop and take a picture; it only takes a minute. If you’re on your way somewhere, all you have to say is “I’m on my way to a panel but find me later and I’ll be happy to take a picture!” Don’t wear a cosplay outfit if you don’t want people to notice and appreciate it.
DO: Show Your Appreciation
Tell those celebrities you love them! They want to hear that they did a great job, they like to hear that their performance, or writing, or whatever, meant something to you. When you see them walking around, say hi, tell them they rock, etc. They want to hear these things. However, this leads me to my next DON’T.
DON’T: Bug Celebrities
Seriously. Don’t do it. Don’t be “that guy” or “that girl”. I’m not saying that celebrities are in the own little bubble and we should completely ignore them. No way. A lot of times, celebrities and con guests are roaming the con floor just like you, and they want to enjoy it the same. Use your best judgement, there are some guests that don’t mind people coming up to them and asking for a picture or an autograph. There are some celebrities that will say no because they have a set autograph/picture slot sometime during the convention weekend or they are charging for photos/autographs at their booth. It would be very rude of a guest to take a picture with you on the con floor and then turn around and charge another fan at their booth. Use your best judgement when it comes to the guests. They’re as happy to see you as you are to see them, but you wouldn’t want random strangers getting in your face all the time so be respectful and keep your distance when necessary.
DO: Bring a Backpack
Seriously, you’ll be thankful you did! Maybe it sounds terrible because you’re going to have to carry it all day but its better than some alternatives. Some cons provide you with bags but not all do. So bring a backpack. You can carry the things you’ll need during the day AND you can stash all the things that are constantly being handed to you in there. Things you should bring in your backpack:
–your phone charger! Don’t forget this!!! You use your phone to keep time, keep track of the people you came with and to take pictures! you don’t want it dying!
–chapstick! suncreen! possibly a hat/sunglasses! IBUPROFEN! At some of the bigger conventions, especially San Diego Comic Con, lines will be outside, and FOR HOURS. Be prepared. It gets hot, it gets sunny and you don’t want to get sunburnt. And always keep some Advil with you, the worst is getting a massive headache when you’re trying to have a good time!
–laptop. Okay this isn’t a MUST but if you’re a blogger like me, it could be a good idea for up to date blog posts and twitter updates and things like that. I can do everything from my phone, so that’s why, back to number one, I bring my cell charger!
–food/drink. Keep snacks and water bottles with you at all times! Trust me, you’ll love that you did!
–CASH, CASH, CASH! I preach cash! Yes, more and more vendors are taking cards because of those new little devices that you can attach to your phones and tablets but cash is so much better. One, you’ll be less likely to spend money that you DON’T HAVE and sometimes, you can haggle the vendors for a lower price because you’re giving them straight up cash.
–a sharpie. I always carry a sharpie with me. You never know when you’re going to randomly run into someone and you’re going to be SUPER bummed that you didn’t have a pen or a sharpie for them to sign your program
–business cards for your blog, etsy/merch store or your geek group/club. Carry those babies around with you so you can hand them out to people!
–mints/hand sanitizer: you’re going to be meeting people all day. Self-explanatory, yes?
–jacket: it gets cold!
-for girls: a hairbrush/little makeup kit. Sometimes you need this to help you feel not so frazzled and alien.
–ipod/book: I’ve only needed these two things a couple times but bring them anyway. You never know when you’ll be stuck in line by yourself, with no one to talk to (though this is SERIOUSLY rare), and you’ll have nothing to do. The Ipod is a must
So that’s my super long blog post of how to navigate your first con! Its super long, and I apologize for it but if you’ve made it to the end, congrats!
I will be adding this as a new “section” on the blog so that it’ll always be available and easy to find!
Can’t wait to see you all on the convention floor :)
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What are some of your do’s and don’t’s of conventions? Share them in the comments! I’ll add them to the list!