Over the years of attending conventions in both Australia and New Zealand there is always someone I notice that has come to the convention unprepared. A young geek with not enough stamina to properly navigate the rigors of the crowd for hours upon end each day. Even some older folks who have bought their offspring along or are attending their very first con after years of dreaming and watching the twitter feeds of those who have braved the halls before them.
Through pain and exhaustion of my own, I have concluded that there are several critical things that a person needs to do before hitting a convention, either alone or with a group of friends, to properly enjoy the whole experience, and hopefully minimize risk of “ConCrud”, the infamous mega flu that strikes hundreds per expo.
Now I should note that going in with no plan is sometimes half of the adventure and those with sturdy young bodies are capable of such amazing feats, I am out of shape and not as fit as I once was so these are tips that I make sure to use each con I attend personally, they may not work for all.
- Footware, footware, footware: This one seems to be a pretty obvious one but a lot of people seem to go for fashion over function when it comes to their shoes. THIS IS A BAD IDEA. No one in a crowd of thousands is going to take the time to appreciate your kicks, so unless it’s for a cosplay make sure to get your best pair of joggers out and make sure they are ready for lots of legwork. (Even if it is for a cosplay, bring some good shoes anyway, you will thank me later.)
- Supplies: I always have a backpack on me. And I encourage any friends I am going to a con with to bring one of their own. Not only does it help carry all your loot but it can also hold a couple of water bottles and some light snack food. Con food and drink are notoriously expensive and busy; wouldn’t you rather spend that extra $20 you save by bringing your own munchies on something cool?
- Plan Ahead: Every con releases a schedule and floor map for their upcoming event a few weeks before it even arrives in town. Use this time to get together with whoever you may be attending with to figure out your plan of attack. Pick your seminars and panels carefully, allow for travel time and length of queues to super popular events. Makes sure you know where you are going and at what times. Also, use this time to organize a meeting point in case you all get split up for your various activities.
- Scope the Deals: Most of the items available from the major retail stalls are for sale on their websites for the same price or cheaper. It’s the three for the price of two deals that you want to get in on when buying physical medium of Manga, Anime and Comics. One of my favorite places to spend time and money is always the artist alleys. Find an artist who makes something that catches your eye and drop money with them, support them and maybe even talk to them about a commission. This is often something they want to do as a living so every little bit helps. You can get that box set online next week.
- Have a Blast: The hardest thing for a lot of people who often avoid crowds is to willingly go into a building, packed with 10,000 + other people. It may be scary and difficult but if you forget your anxiety in a bout of fan-induced euphoria for even a moment at the sight of an awesome cosplay, a deal on a table or amazing fanart, then you will realize it was all worth it.
So, venture forth into the brave world of Conventions and Expo’s. Guard yourself against the oncoming tide of bodies and sickness and push forward into the future. Make friends, speak to anyone you feel comfortable approaching. We are all there for the same reason. Share your excitement with us all and we will return it a hundred-fold.