Convention Do's and Don'ts
- Plan ahead. Planning is your friend when it comes to the large cons. It's impossible to see everything, so decide what your priorities are- whether it's a signing, a cosplay contest, certain panels, or whatever. Maybe even make a mini- schedule for yourself so you can stay focused. A big convention can be overwhelming, and plans can quickly go out the window in the rush so a little planning goes a long way. This includes, if possible, knowing where your various events are located, and the best way to get there.
- Dress comfortably. It's often warm outside but the convention hall will be air- conditioned, so keep that in mind. If you get cold in the AC bring a light sweater. Also wear comfortable shoes. This might be the most important tip of all. You will be doing a lot of walking, and standing, and your feet will probably be killing you by the end of the day- no way around it. Comfortable footwear makes all the difference.
- Have a back-up plan. Things change, sometimes events get moved or signings end early or whatever- be flexible. And don't over- schedule! Keep some time free to wander the exhibit hall and to just soak up the atmosphere. Take pictures, talk to celebrities or other fans, be a part of the show. You'll almost certainly be rewarded if you just wander a bit or explore some of the different events.
- Be respectful. Everyone gets excited and it's easy to get carried away. If you want a picture with a cosplayer or exhibitor model, ask. It's just common courtesy to do that. Don't assume just because someone is in costume that they are available for photography. They probably won't mind but remember that they are people too- treat 'em with respect.
- Have fun! That's the point, right? But whenever you're in a large group of people there will be frustrations, you might run into hotel issues or miss an event or whatever- keep cool and remember not everything will go according to plan. If it does, bonus! But if not, roll with it and remember- you're at a convention. Have a blast!
- Get too discouraged if you miss an event or don't make a certain panel. There are a zillion and one things to do at a big con and the sheer variety of things can be overwhelming. As noted above, have a plan but stay flexible too.
- Go without eating! Believe it or not, first time attendees can get so excited they go-go-go and may skip meals. Bring a sandwich or breakfast bar in your backpack, or take a pit stop at one of the food kiosks if available, but you need to keep your energy up. A good breakfast is key and will set the tone for your whole day. And stay hydrated. Bring a bottle of water or get one at the con, you'll be doing a lot of walking and water or a sports drink will keep you going.
- Forget to sleep. Especially for first time attendees, you can be having so much fun that a good night's sleep falls by the wayside. Trust me, you'll have a better convention experience if you get some z's.
- Forget where you're at! As awesome as the con is, sometimes you need a break. Most cities that are hosting a convention will have lots to do. Whether it's great food or some nightlife, don't miss out on whatever the host city has on offer. It can be nice too to get a break from the convention, believe it or not.
- Assume all cons are equal. Comic- Con is huge but there are lots of smaller cons, both those specializing in comics and those that are more book related, or gaming related. I've been going to GenCon for years, even as it relocated cities, and every con has its own thing. If you like a smaller, more intimate con those can be a great way to meet people, including guests of honor. The bigger cons will be much more intense but you're surrounded by thousands of fellow fans, and the offerings can be limitless! The main thing- have fun.