Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Art of Con Survival

Ah summer is here. The smell of outdoor cookouts, the fireflies at night, and most importantly the time of conventions is upon us all. Oh convention season...the one time of year where I am not the biggest geek in the room. I'm in a place where it feels like Christmas/Halloween/my Birthday/my childhood have merged into one giant ball of rainbows and sunshine.

While Cons are filled with exhibits halls of fun it is important that you plan ahead and here are a few tips to make sure that you get the most fun out of your con other than standing in line. ^-^

Before you go

Make sure you have your badge/event tickets-Yes this does sound like a huge 'Duh'. However everyone has lost their cars keys and forgetting your badge is just like losing your car keys. You can only stare through the window of your car while standing in the rain. I had one friend that got halfway to the Con and realized he forgot his badge and event tickets and had to turn around and drive back home to get them. Thankfully his home and the Con were in the same state, but just imagine the grief he would have felt if he had flown across the country and realized what he had forgotten. If you do forget your badge or tickets, find out what the policy is about getting your badge and tickets replaced. Always save your online receipt so you can print it out at the hotel if needed.

Get your money at home (if you can)-Plan how much you wanna take with you and take it out of your ATM near home, don't wait till you reach the Con and take out your cash. While this sounds like another 'Duh' moment many people forget about the extra fees attached with using an ATM not in the network of the bank, plus the fees your bank will tack on. While using a credit card might seem like a good option in place of cash be aware that some vendors still might not take your card due to the fees they have to pay, plus losing your card can be worse than losing your cash. If you bring your card, leave it in your room and use it sparingly. Remember keep it secret, keep it safe.

A nice, big bag is a life saver-Swag is handed out like those Mardi Gras beads, but you don't have you show your ladies to get it. A nice backpack is helpful for holding all the free stuff your going to get. Plus you can keep all your snacks, money, and small buys in one place and not have to run back and forth to your room and hall.

While your there

Get an event catalog and plan accordingly-Most people will have their events picked out weeks before they go. However events are always changing, sometimes up to the minute before it starts. It is always a good idea to have other options lined up in case of last minute cancellations or in case the event is not what you expected and you want out...like a bad dinner date it's always a plus to have an out.

Walking the Exhibit Hall-Most Exhibit Halls are the size of a small city and can sometimes be overwhelming with the huge crowds. Take time to look over a map in the catalog and plan your routes accordingly. The bigger the display, the larger the crowds around it is a general rule so if it's something you really want to see be prepared for the mob. It's best to try to get into the hall early in the morning or later in the afternoon when people are getting lunch. Try to plan for at least a few hours in the hall if you really want to see everything.

Bring your own water and snacks-Food in the Exhibit Hall will break your budget quickly, plus most of the time it's really not that tasty. A small granola bar or trail mix can tide you over till lunch or dinner. A bottle of water is also very important. (We'll get back to that later)

Letting people know where you are-Maybe it's because I'm girl, but I always get the
safety lecture from my mother in law before my husband and I go. Despite the fact I'm a 26 year old adult and I'm always surrounded by large groups of people. She came close to flipping out when she found out I had walked back to the hotel room by myself at 1 a.m. after watching a movie in another hotel. I wasn't drinking, I wasn't alone and mostly importantly my husband knew where I was. He had no interest in seeing the movie with me, but agreed to meet me back in the room by 1 a.m. If I hadn't called him to let him know that my plans had changed he would have than been worried. It really doesn't mater what age or sex you are it is important to let others know where you are. That way if anything does happen people will know that something happened.

Get some sleep you have a long day ahead and have some breakfast too-Cons are really a non stop party that goes on for days. However getting even a few hours of sleep can make a huge difference. Many people will come home totally wiped out and sick for days due to lack of sleep. This disease is known as Con Crud, it's from lack of sleep and proper hydration and eating. A few bottles of water, a few hours of sleep and a good breakfast can make all the difference.

Have fun....but don't be an ass about it-You are a guest in the town where the event is being held. Being rude to the locals is a sure way to piss people off and give the rest of the people at the Con a bad name. I had one waitress complain about the rudeness of a group of people from a local sporting event and how much she enjoyed the gamers coming to town since we were polite and didn't cause her to much hassle. Understand that the locals are basically losing their town for the week you are there, they least you can do is be a decent person while there.

I hope that everyone has fun at the Con of their choice and to remember that is the most important thing. Just have fun with the people you come with, have fun with the people you meet and enjoy the time that your there. ^-^