A Guide for First-Time Con-Goers!
Convention season is now underway! While it’s an exciting time, those of us who have attended a few know some insider tricks that newbies may not. Above all, remember to have fun! There is no point in going if you don’t have fun. Here is my list of tips I wish someone had told me before my first convention.
This post was inspired by a request made by someone from Vegas.com, who requested me to write something for Vegas’s own LVL UP EXPO. I am NOT getting paid for this. I just thought it would be fun to write! For those attending LVL UP EXPO, check out the Vegas travel deals page for great money-savers!
1. Shop around for hotels
There will usually be a discount for whichever hotel the convention is in, but many nearby hotels will also have discounts for congoers and shuttles to and from the hotel. Make sure to hit up the con’s website for a list of hotels nearby that will have con discounts. You could save a lot of money for an hour of work. Don’t splurge too much on a hotel because you probably won’t be spending that much time in it anyway. You’d probably rather spend that money on a plushie anyway right? Also consult your friends to see if any of them wanna tag along so you can split the cost of the room.
2. Make a packing list
Don’t just throw things in your bag and hope you brought the essentials. Make a list of everything you want/need to bring, and don’t be afraid to add to it. The smart thing to do is start your list a week or so in advance before you pack, and add to it over the week. That way you’re less likely to forget anything important. You do NOT want to have to Google the location of a gas station nearby just to buy a phone charger at two in the morning. My advice to is to make sure you remember your money, and credit/debit cards, your I.D., and any insurance/health cards, clip or rubber band them so they’re together, and keep them on you at all time. You never know when you might fall drunken down the stairs and need to hit up an ER. Also make sure you bring clothes, hygiene items (don’t be that stinky guy in line at the food booth), chargers, any electronic you wanna bring like your phone or laptop, and any cosplays you need to bring. Also don’t forget your medications if you take any. That being said, don’t bring anything super expensive. You never know what could happen and you don’t wanna be out a $2000 laptop because you lost it in the hotel.
3. Plan your trip to a T, but don’t be afraid to deviate
Cons usually post their programming weeks in advance, and some even have apps to help you plan out your personal schedule. Make sure you consult this information so you can efficiently go from one thing to the next and you don’t miss out on something you find interesting. However, don’t be afraid to do something different than you had planned if you see something cool.
4. Make sure you consult the weather gods
You never know what might happen weather-wise. I always bring a sweater even if it’s super hot, and a skirt and shorts even if it’s super cold. Make sure to Google the weather conditions for the days you’ll be away. It’s always good to bring at least one pair of sneakers even if it seems like flip-flop weather, and an umbrella even if it’s super dry. You never know what the weather has in store for you! Also make sure you are dressing comfy. You will do a lot of walking, so comfortable shoes are a must.
5. Don’t spend all your money right away!
Make sure you look around to see everything you may want to buy and where it is. Prioritize the things you really want with the stuff that might just be kinda cool to have. Also don’t buy things you don’t have room for. Don’t go buying a dozen plushies when you don’t have a shelf to put them on, or no wall space for the 6 posters you bought. Put some serious consideration into your purchases or you may experience some buyer’s regret. On the last day of conventions, items are also usually on sale at the vendors so if there was something you have your eye on but don’t really need, see if it’s discounted on the last day.
6. Read the rules
Make sure that badass sword that is essential to your cosplay is even allowed. Many cons will not allow real weapons. Be sure that everything you want to dress up as is allowed so it doesn’t ruin your plans.
7. Don’t go crazy buying food
I know, it’s tempting to go to the fancy hotel restaurant or that cool place across the street, but trust me, it isn’t worth it. That fancy overpriced food will last an hour, but the plushie you could have bought instead will last a lifetime. If the vendors are selling cool expensive Japanese candy, just make a note of what it is and price check it on Amazon. It will probably be cheaper, though as previously stated, it will likely be discounted on the last day. My first anime convention a girl I was with bought a bunch of boxes of Hello Panda at a discount on the last day of the convention! Just eat whatever food is in the consuite or is free at the convention, plus cheap stuff like McDonald’s. You can go back to eating healthy when you go home.
8. Don’t be a dick
Make sure you are practicing hygiene so the people around you don’t suffer. Always ask permission before taking pictures of people in cosplay. For the love of god, just because a girl is wearing something skimpy does NOT mean she wants you to grab her ass! Just be nice to everyone else so it’s a good experience for everyone.
9. Get there a bit early
It’s a good idea to get there a bit early, maybe even the day before the con. This is a good idea because you can explore and make a mental map of the hotel or convention hall so you’re not so lost when you’re trying to get to that anime screening in 4 minutes. Cons will also usually post maps online. Study them, grasshopper. The cons I’ve went to even had maps on their mobile apps for easy viewing. It’s also a good idea to get the the registration area early, before the throngs of people show up.
10. Don’t be shy
This is a great way to meet people just like you. Go to the room parties, go to the panels, watch the anime screenings, compete in the tournaments even if you’re super bad at the game, hit up the rave later! This is one of my biggest regrets. When I’ve gone to cons I am always too shy and I don’t make a single friend. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know. You could make a great friend.