Con season is upon us, starting off with Oz Comic Con in Melbourne this weekend followed by — but not limited to — E3, Vidcon, RTX and, of course, San Diego Comic Con in July. For the newbies out there, Justine and fellow Bomb Squad member Julia whipped up this guide on how to prepare for and survive your first convention.
First things first, what will you be wearing?
You won’t be judged for your fashion sense, so invest in maxing out your comfort and geekiness. If you are planning to cosplay, you may be a bit uncomfortable depending on your costume, but you’ll look incredible anyway. Bring flats or sandals to change into when your feet feel like they’ve walked all the way to Mordor and back. Also, always check the weather for days you plan on attending. You never know when mother nature will want to rain on your cosplay parade. Lastly, bring a bag or backpack big enough to carry all your essentials, plus all the fun merch you’ll be buying in the expo hall.
Let’s move on to what to bring and what to expect.
If you’ve never attended a con, we’re sure you’ve heard stories from other people about the craziness that ensues. If you have attended a con then I’m sure you’re the one telling the crazy stories. Don’t you worry: Justine and Julia have put their brains together, compiling a list of 15 tips and tricks so that you’re ready for battle, prepped with the basic con necessities.
- WATER! (Or sports drink, if you prefer.) Buy or bring a plastic or refillable water bottle so you stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Snacks. No one likes a hangry con-goer. You’re going to need all the energy you can get while running around the convention floor. Snacking is also a great way to pass the time you’ll spend waiting in lines.
- Empty canvas bag, so you can pack up all the con goodies you buy, plus the freebies you’ll get.
Tissues, bandaids, hand sanitizer, and chapstick will make up your basic first-aid kit.
- External battery pack/phone charger to make sure you’re bombarding all your social media accounts with how much fun you’re having.
- Sharpies! I always carry one silver and one any other color. You never know who you’ll run into or when they’ll come in handy for an on-the-fly signing.
- If you have professional photo-ops lined up, bring/buy a clear plastic photo protector or a folder to store your photos so they don’t get bent.
- Rubber bands or extra hair ties to roll up and secure posters. They come in handy!
Different days attract different crowds depending on how many days your convention is.
Bigger events like NYCC and SDCC are four days long, while some are just three or even two days. Coming from convention-goers that are used to four-day events, we’ve created this list on what to expect on specific days.
— Thursday is usually a quiet late start, since most of the exhibitors spend the day setting up the booths before people are allowed in. If you end up getting a four-day pass, this is the best day to scope out the exhibition floor. Make note of the booths you want to revisit, and get a feel for the layout so you know exactly where to go for the next few days. This is the perfect day to find all the bathrooms as well.
— Friday is a bit calmer than Saturday but is still a big day, as this is the first full convention day of the weekend. This is the day you’ll get to fully enjoy the panels and guests scheduled.
— Saturday is usually the most crowded day. This is the day the convention schedules all the best panels with the biggest stars. If you’re a cosplayer, we highly recommend to wear your most comfortable outfit or just hang out at the cosplay lobby. Most conventions’ lobby areas kind of turn into a cosplay exhibition area, so there’s less people. Still a lot of people, but considerably less claustrophobia-inducing for sure.)
— Sunday is the last hurrah! (NYCC designates it as kids’ day, so be prepared for a bunch of youngins running around in the cutest costumes if you’re attending.) This is also the last day to grab whatever you wanted in the expo hall! There are usually great deals from vendors because they’re trying to get rid of as much as possible so keep your eyes peeled.
If you’re looking for a collectible/print to add to your geek collection, do your research.
Know the general range of how much it goes for on eBay or just Google it. Giving yourself a range helps your wallet out, because we all know being a geek is an expensive hobby. It helps to see what other pieces the brand has released. See if you like anything else. If you’re on a budget, you might find something else that you like more, and that way you can prioritize what you absolutely have to get your hands on. Even if your wallet might not appreciate it, your geeky side definitely will! (Disclaimer: Not responsible for anyone being broke.)
A lot of conventions have an artist section where tons of talented creatives will have their own booths selling their own pieces. If you see artists that you like, we highly recommend to follow their Instagram. Most artists will announce what conventions they’re going to be at, which means you’ll know where to get access to your favourite artists’ art, thus supporting them. Win-win for everyone! Plus, if you’re attending the last day, you might get some deals on the prints because they don’t want to lug it back home.
To non-cosplayers: Cosplayers are mere mortals, just like us.
They get tired and walk around all day in their super cool costumes. Sometimes their outfits are very fragile, so ask before you can hug them or even if you can touch their cosplay. Consent is a huge thing, and we know that it’s super easy to get really excited, but this is just a reminder.
We hope that this help you have an incredible time at your convention. They’re some of our favorite events to attend during the year. You’ll make great memories and great friends. Now, without further ado, welcome to the con life. Walk through those con doors to join the wonderful world of being a geek! One of us… One of us…