Within the span of one year’s time, I have went to FIVE Wizard World conventions. Yes, FIVE. Good thing I’m a Con Addict that adores traveling, haha.
During this time, and these many experiences, I’ve learned a few things to make my con adventures A LOT easier. Here’s some tips and answers to questions I get quite a lot:
1.) If you buy some art or a print, and it comes with a free plastic sleeve – KEEP IT! I know this sounds like a weird thing to some people, but you wouldn’t believe how many people end up buying plastic sleeves to hold art/prints/autographs/photo ops. I learned at my first con, when one of the first prints I bought came with a sleeve, that this was a handy thing to have. I could easily fit any 11×17 sized prints (very, very common at conventions, from what I’ve noticed) as well as anything smaller – such as the 8×10 from photo ops, autographs, etc. So, SO helpful. And a lot of people kept asking me where I found them, so I wasn’t alone in thinking they were pretty handy.
2.) Celebrities – are they worth it? Excellent question I receive a lot. People seem to be very split down the middle about this. Some people like to argue cons that are celebrity focused are a waste and trying to drain fans of their money, perpetuate the ‘celebrity worship’ mentality, and that they’re missing the point of the con entirely. Some people think the celebrity guests are a great way for fans to get to meet and connect with some of their idols, especially in cases where the celebrity has made a huge difference in their life somehow. Where do I stand on the subject? I walk the line, really. I think that con can be about BOTH things – meeting heroes, and being surrounded by your fellow geeks. I partake in both the geek community aspect as well as the celebrity stuff. I browse the vendors and artists, geek-out with others that enjoy my fandoms, and check out the awesome cosplays. But I can’t deny I’ve met some heroes via con and made connections that I never could have had otherwise. In my opinion – if you can meet your hero, do it. Not everyone will have time to spend forever talking to you, but the ones that can will make the entire experience worthwhile. Trust me.
3.) Don’t be defeated by your own thirst and hunger. I deal with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that attacks my moisture producing glands, so I have to have some means of drinking water throughout the day. I try to remember a water bottle or keep track of every single water fountain in the convention center. Keep a water bottle handy, and a few light snacks in case you get hungry. While every con I’ve been to has had concession stands of some form to eat at, I usually only tried to do that once a day, if I needed to. Why spend extra money on corndogs that you could spend on sweet nerd stuff?
4.) Consider investing in or designating a Con bag. This doesn’t have to be any particular sort of special brand, or even style, but this has become a must for me. I didn’t have a special awesome bag at my first con, but ended up buying my first con bag from an artist there. It was a small, rectangular bag with a Harley Quinn image from the artist on it. I wish I could remember the artists name! Anyway, I used this for my next few cons, and it was PERFECT, and then my friend Skylar bought me a slightly larger but same style bag with Batman and the Joker on it, and since it had an extra pocket or two the other didn’t have, it became my designated con bag. It can fit my iPad (if for some reason I need it), organization stuff with my tickets, maps, etc inside, my wallet, and any other little must-haves. It isn’t too big and clunky. It sits at my side with a flap over the top, so no one can easily slip their hand inside and take anything without me being VERY aware of it. It really is perfect for my con needs. But, figure out what suits YOU the best, and go from there. Maybe a mini backpack is more your style? I know my best friend managed just fine with hers.
5.) Pack appropriately. DO bring important papers – like tickets. Bring important things – ID, money, water bottle, bandaids, etc. Do not bring more than you are comfortable carrying around all day. While some things may seem like a wise choice to bring along at the time, they can get cumbersome after a few hours of hauling them around. Be kind to your body, and don’t bring too much extra.
6.) Bring cash. This is easy enough. You want an autograph? Cash. A lot of vendors? Cash only. Yes, there are ATMs, but trust me. Going in prepared with your cash is much, much simpler. Plus, you can avoid ATM fees.
7.) Stay organized. I have a map of the convention floor that I analyze strategically the week leading up to con. I go over the schedule of panel times, photo op times, costume contest, etc. I have a small accordion file that I use to keep things organized for myself and usually my group – a slot for my tickets, one for my photo ops separate, a slot for everyone else’s tickets, their photo ops, maps and schedules, etc. I’m VERY organized, and it’s something I’ve picked up after my first two cons were a tad chaotic. It’s much easier to know you have everything sorted and ready, so you can spend more time focused on all the fun your day entails.
8.) Dress comfortably, but embrace your fandom. This is really up to you, but I think if you’re going in casual attire instead of cosplaying at the con, then you should be embracing your fandom(s). You are among your nerdy brethren! I like to plan fandom shirts based on what I’m doing for the day, but you can wear what you see fit. Another tip, also if you aren’t cosplaying – wear comfy shoes. Seriously. I know your super awesome heels SEEM like a good idea, but they won’t be an hour or so in. For me? Converse all the way. Usually Batman Converse. Ooooh yeeeah.
Alright, that’s it for today! I’ll have more con tips and advice for you in coming posts, since I have another con to attend next month! Comment below if you found any of this info useful, if you have questions, or you have your own con tips to share!