Whether we’ve experienced firsthand or listened to the horror stories of others, most convention experiences can turn into train wrecks really quickly if you aren’t planning ahead.
It doesn’t matter if this is your first convention that you’re preparing for, or if you’re a con vet that just happened to stumble across this post while looking for inspiration, this is definitely worth the read if for nothing else than to tell me to add to or edit this list! I’ll be looking to add to and edit this as experiences come up. For that purpose I will be putting in the “read more” so no one is bombarded by the long lists!
Let’s start with the positive!
- Bring more money than you think you’ll need. Trust me you’ll need it.
- Always Always Always pre-order your tickets. It’s always cheaper to pre-order and depending on the con you may not be able to get day-of tickets because they sell out very fast!
- Emergency money! I recommend keeping at least $200 In a separate envelope in the glove box of your car for gas and other emergency expenses. If you aren’t driving keep this money out of your wallet in case your wallet is stolen. If you know you’re driving a far distance keep enough money for gas both ways and a little extra for a motel just in case. More money is always better. But remember to keep it separate and DO NOT SPEND IT.
- Budget. After you’ve put away your emergency money budget whatever you have left. If you’re bringing $300 to a three day con then try to keep your spending limit at a total of $100 per day. That includes food, merch, travel, autographs, etc.
- BYOB. And food, and water. No I don’t mean bring 80 bottles of vodka and 6 chicken parm dinners, but food and drinks will eat through your budget way faster than you think! If you’re going for a few days pack yourself a case of water and keep it in the hotel room along with granola bars and other light but filling snacks. If you’re of age bring your own alcohol if you’re planning on drinking in your hotel. Why buy a rum and coke for $8 when you can buy a bottle of rum and a 2liter of coke for like $20. By the time you’re three drinks in it already pays for itself.
- Keep a sewing kit with you at all times. Buttons pop and seams rip. Mini sewing kits, safety pins, and fabric tapes are going to be your best friend.
- SENSIBLE SHOES. I cannot stress this enough. Always pack flip flops or flats in your bag. ALWAYS
- Bring a bag that is large enough to carry everything you need but it also comfortable. Bonus points if it matches your cosplay. It’s fine I promise and no one will care. If someone wants to take your picture put the bag down. it’s that simple.
- Bring like a trillion bobby pins.
- Keep your money hidden. While cons are a relatively safe place they are starting to get larger. Larger crowds are not the safest places. And regardless of how safe a con is you’ll need to be walking on the streets at some point.
- Bring comfortable clothes
- bring extra underwear and socks
- Remember to eat. Believe it or not it becomes extremely easy to forget to feed yourself until it’s 10pm and everything is closed and you’re starving. (This is why you have the snacks just in case!)
- See something say something! IF you think there is a problem say something. You will never be penalized for it and your name will be left out of everything. Security would rather investigate things that turn out to be nothing all day than have something happen and never have been notified that there may be a problem.
- Please look out for little children. It is very easy to get lost at a con, especially if you’re a child. Please, if you see a kid wandering around ask them if they are lost. If they are lost/cannot find their parents, please walk them over to the nearest vendor and have them wait with the owner of the vendor while you go get security. Do not ever take a child with you and do not ever take a picture of a child as this may be misinterpreted. After you’ve brought over con security they will reunite the child with their parents and you are no longer needed.
- CONSENT CONSENT CONSENT. Ask before doing anything. Do not hug someone without asking, do not touch someone’s props or costume without asking. Do not grab someone without asking. And absolutely do not take pictures or videos of someone without asking. No only is it rude it’s an invasion of Privacy. You don’t know how old someone is at a con. They may look like a beautiful busy twenty-something with the hottest body and the best hair and makeup but I promise you at least 55& of them ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 16! INAPPROPRIATE.
- DO NOT BROADCAST YOUR MONEY. Meaning do not show it off.
- Keep money in small separate bundles in separate spaces. If you’re going to get pick pocketed make sure they can’t get to all of your money in one go. Keep $50 in one spot, $30 in another, $100 in another, etc. Do not keep all $600 in one spot.
- Do not use the hotel safe. The maids/housekeepers all know the code.
- Do not leave money out on the table.
- Keep valuables in your suitcase and locked up. Invest in a cheap small lock to put on your suitcase when you travel to avoid theft.
- Do not spend all of your money at the vendors. It is really easy to get swept up in the con haze. If you see something you really love take a business card, write down the name and price of what you want, and go back Sunday if you still really want it. If it’s there and you have the extra cash then GREAT if not, that’s why you have the business card.
- DO NOT BUY FOOD/WATER/ALCOHOL/SODA AT THE CON. Con prices are a million times more expensive than the convenient store that is usually within walking distance. Bring your own or go to a gas station. Obviously if you’re starving or about to dehydrate please by all means get something at the con but if you’re just craving a Pepsi then you may want to rethink that $4.00 purchase when you can get it for $1.95 a few minutes up the road.
- Do not wear shoes that are uncomfortable from the moment you put them on. If you really love them and want to take pictures then pack them in your bag.
- Do not bring huge bulky props. I know you’re probably pouring your heart into a huge scythe or giant gun or realistic lightsaber but believe me, you’ll have more fun without them. It’s too easy for them to get damaged, children are always approaching you to hold them, and con security is going to watch you like a hawk.
- Do not feel pressured to let someone take pictures or touch you/yourprops/yourcostume You’re at the con to have fun and if you aren’t comfortable with a situation or someone is borderline harassing you please seek out con staff or security. They are there to help you.
- Say no to long flowing trains on your costume. While they look beautiful they are the quickest way for your costume to get destroyed. People step on them almost every 5 minutes and don’t even notice.
- Do not kiss random people even with consent. I know this one is weird but I promise it happens waaaaayyyy more than you think. You don’t know who has a jealous partner or even worse what they may be carrying disease wise. Stay away.
- CONSENT CONSENT CONSENT. I know I posted this in the Dos but this is the most important one. Ask before doing anything. Do not hug someone without asking, do not touch someone’s props or costume without asking. Do not grab someone without asking. And absolutely do not take pictures or videos of someone without asking. No only is it rude it’s an invasion of Privacy. You don’t know how old someone is at a con. They may look like a beautiful busy twenty-something with the hottest body and the best hair and makeup but I promise you at least 55& of them ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 16! INAPPROPRIATE.
I will be adding more information to this post in different colors as time goes on! Anything in this color text was written on 8/14/17.