Some of these tips are convention specific, but most of them are applicable to all and any kind of conventions. I am sure you guys have awesome tips to share, please add yours in the comments and I will tack them on to this post (with your name/link of course). I would love to have a gigantic list to share with the world.
- Wear comfortable shoes. No, really. You'll be walking a lot. If you're cosplaying in stilettos, carry a pair of flip flops for when your feet start aching.
- Pick a comfy bag/backpack for the con. Even if you don't intend to, you'll probably end up buying things. If you're like me, several things that are usually books. If it's a new bag, test it out before you leave. Put a handful of books in it and do a few laps around your house. Your shoulders and back will thank you later.
- Get organized. Look at the panels and check out the list of artists and exhibitors. Pick first and second choices for panels, don't forget to set aside time for lines. Print an exhibit hall map and highlight the booths you want to visit most. It's easy to fall into a zombie shuffle in the hall and miss your favorites. If you want to commission an artist, go do that first before his or her schedule for the con is full. Realize that you are not going to be able to do everything you want, and that's okay.
- Pack protein bars and bottled water. San Diego convention center concessions are worthless (they make a bad soft pretzel). You'll be thankful for the snacks in the fourth hour of waiting in line for Kevin Smith. Phoenix Comicon actually had decent concessions on site, but I was still grateful for granola bars in my purse.
- Drink said water. I had one of the worst headaches of my life after a day of dehydration at SDCC. The only time when a ton of water may not be appropriate is if you are wearing a costume that doesn't make bathroom breaks a fun time.
- Keep a plastic folder and sheet protectors in the giant messenger bag you take to the convention hall. You'll want to keep business cards, flyers, comics, and prints in good shape. These poly file jackets are my favorites.
- Bring cash. The line for the ATM is sometimes long or at some conventions, it's just not super close. A lot of vendors will take cards, but not as many as you would think in Small Press and Artist's Alley.
- Don't be a zombie. At multi-day conventions, it's so easy to push yourself because you feel like you have to see it all. You're not going to. Let it go. It's not worth it if you are walking around like a zombie not even absorbing any of it. It's also not worth it if you are a grumpy, angry mess. Cons are sensory overload, and your body and brain are not forgiving of it. It's okay to miss stuff, I promise.
- Figure out the available parking and transportation before hand. Some conventions may have ample, affordable, and close parking but not all of them. If you're not staying at a nearby hotel, go to the convention site and read about the options - trolleys, light rail, etc. I know, research sucks, but it will get you to the exhibit call that much faster.
- If you're cosplaying, pack a small bag for fixes. It will depend on the costume(s) you're wearing, but bobby pins, a sewing kit, super glue, safety pins, elastic, and a mini stapler would not be amiss in addition to extra make-up if needed.
- Have pens, a Sharpie, and a sketchbook in your bag if possible.
- Hand sanitizer is your friend. Use it frequently. If I remember, I carry lotion too because sanitizer dries out my hands.
- Wear deodorant, bring wet wipes, and keep breath mints / gum. You actually will talk to other people while at the con. - Ana
- If you want to see a panel, get in line when the panel before the one you want to see starts. Jim Brooks
- Follow the 6/2/1 rule. At least try for 6 hours of sleep. Eat 2 very good meals, and get 1 shower a day (the shower is the most important thing on the list cause, and this is from someone who has been on staff at a large convention and attended large conventions...really other folks can smell the BO) - T.R.
- Medicine. If you have prescription medicine that you are taking, make sure you have enough to last you through the convention, if not get a refill before you leave home. - T.R.
- LINES: Just deal with them! Don't complain. I meet the nicest people just waiting in lines. I bring cards and books and portable game devices to keep the kids entertained. Nanny Trish
- Find a good pocket backup battery solution for your device and have it fully charged and ready to use when needed. I can guarantee (personal experience) you'll kill an iPhone during a good day at a convention.
If you do find an empty socket, hang on to it until you are fully charged and don't let go until you check with all your friends. Shawn
- Take more than one Memory Card for your Camera. It'll fill up when you least expect it and that is the moment Murphy and Fate will team up to have your most favorite celebrity walk up and present a photo op. Shawn
- If you can get/afford a room then do so. Even if you live only 20mi away the drive back and forth late at night and early in the morning will drain you and waste precious recharge time (sleep). Shawn
Tell me your tips!