Whether you’re a gamer, a cosplay fan, a tech nerd, or a comic book geek, there’s plenty of convention experiences available to suit all tastes and interests. It can be an exciting but also rather daunting prospect attending your first event, but if you have a good time, it will be a memorable experience that you will want to repeat on a regular basis. If you’ve never attended a convention before, or you’re attending with a newbie, here are some tips on how to get the most from your visit.
Preparing and planning for your trip are vital if you want to have the best experience:
- Choose your event with care. Plunging straight into a major, big league convention can be somewhat overwhelming, so a small to medium-sized event is a good idea for starters.
- Going with friends makes the event far more enjoyable. You need to get together with people who share your interests to organize your trip. You don’t have to go with anyone, but you’ll probably feel more at ease if there’s at least one person you know at the event.
- Check out the attractions. Who is attending the event? Make sure there are enough special guests present that you are a fan of, as engaging with the actors, writers, directors, designers and artists who you most admire is one of the highlights of the event.
- Book your meet and greets, discussion groups, and signing sessions in advance if possible. Conventions have various options for getting the stars interacting with the fans, and by booking in advance, you’ll have a clear schedule and be able to attend the sessions you’re most interested in. You don’t want to miss out on one of the most exciting aspects of the event by not checking the program in advance.
There’s a final, essential element to planning for a convention, and that’s finance. You need to prepare a realistic budget, and in addition to entry tickets, special attraction extras, travel, accommodation, and food, you will also require some spending money.
Conventions are built around merchandise, and there’ll be a mind-boggling array of memorabilia and new products to buy. It’s a kind of geek heaven filled with all your most coveted items, plus a great many more. It’s easy to end up spending a fortune or hammering your credit cards if you’re not careful.
If finances are tight, you may decide that you’ll be fine just attending and you won’t need to spend money on merchandise as well. Unfortunately, the temptation could get the better of even the most strong-willed of people. It’s hard to resist tucking in when you’re surrounded by an all-you-can-eat buffet, plus convention stands often feature rare or unusual items or products you might not want to buy online. The best way to manage your money is to check out your credit options in advance, for example, finding the best rates for payday loans online, or sourcing an interest-free purchase credit card. It’s better to be prepared and not spend than to hope your willpower will hold out and end up using a high-interest credit card.
Dressing up in costumes used to be the reserve of sci-fi and fantasy nerds so that conventions would be full of Star Fleet officers, Imperial stormtroopers, and Hobbits. However, over recent years cosplay has found a whole new audience covering many more topics and appealing to a far wider range of people. In fact, it’s become something of an art form in its own right, which can make for an impressive sight but could also present a challenge to a convention newbie.
The challenge with cosplay is to look the part. Many keen cosplayers spend months making their own costumes, and there are very few characters that haven’t been used as blueprints for a stunning outfit. Fancy yourself as a Dalek? You can get construction plans online to enable you to make your own Dalek that you can sit inside and move around in, complete with voice changer and lights. The point is that if you think a cheap fancy dress costume is going to make the grade you could end up having a pretty miserable time, as you’ll stand out like a sore thumb. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have a go – just be aware that you’ll need to put some effort into your costume if you want to look the part.
Don’t forget that while looking good is important, being comfortable is also an issue. If you want to engage with other people, it could be tricky from inside your Dalek body, as you’ll have no arms or legs for example. Alien make-up, a mask, or helmet can make you very hot and sweaty, and that may be a problem as convention halls are usually pretty warm when they’re filled with bodies, even in the winter. You may find it better to schedule yourself some time off from a more extreme costume so you can participate in the event more fully – and more comfortably!
Conventions can be exhausting, partly because of the excitement and anticipation, partly from finding your way around a strange place filled with thousands of other people. Take your time and don’t rush around, or you’ll soon get overtired and irritable. Make sure you have regular drinks of water and don’t forget to stop for meals and snack breaks. Wear comfortable footwear to avoid sore feet, and make sure you know where the restrooms and other facilities are located in the venue. You should also have a system for reconnecting with your friends if you get separated, as searching for them in the melee won’t be a lot of fun!
If you’ve armed yourself with a plan, a timetable, and a sensible budget, you’ll enjoy a much better convention experience than if you head off hoping for the best. These events are amazing opportunities to indulge your passions to the full, so do your prep and have the time of your life.