Conventions are a lot of fun for a lot of people. It’s quite possible, however, to create a bad experience for yourself by not preparing beforehand. As the Marines say, “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance,” so here are some things to keep in mind when preparing to go to a convention.
1. Clear understanding of transportation & lodging
It’s critically important to have a clear understanding of how you’re getting to the convention, where you’ll be staying, and who you’ll be staying with, if you’re sharing a room. I’m talking six months in advance, more if you’re booking a room yourself. My friend The Geeky Panda actually booked our room for Anime Boston 2016 while we were still in the hotel room the Sunday of AB 2015. It can’t hurt to be early and, honestly, waiting can only raise the chances of the hotel you want being booked. Most hotels will let you cancel a reservation quite close to the date you booked without incurring a cost, so there’s no reason to wait on it.
Carpooling is common, but cars can only hold so many people, so it’s a good idea to arrange carpools in advance so people know who’s travelling with whom. Travel arrangements affect more than just who’s stuck with who in the car for however long. It plays into how much each person can take with them, and involves additional costs (Gas, tolls, parking, train/plane/bus tickets, etc.). Also, when packing a car or other personal vehicle for the trip up, make sure there will be room for the stuff people will be taking home from the con!
2. Know what to carry
Packing for a con is often an ordeal. It’s an exercise in stuffing as much as you can in as little space as you can, while still keeping everything intact and making sure you don’t forget anything. Back when I was president of my college’s anime club, my vice president wrote up a checklist that I adapted into my own list, which I still refer to just to make sure I have all the essentials.
· Shaving Needs
· Prescription medications
· Small first aid kit
· Casual clothes for 1-3 days (I generally just walk around in-costume, both in and out of the con)
· Messenger bag/small backpack
· All costumes, complete
· Extra/spare accessories
· Field repair kit (Glue, tape, safety pins, etc.)
· Photo ID
· Wallet & Money
· Business cards
· Laptop & Power cord
· Power strip
· USB power brick
· USB hub
Know where everything is so you’re not tearing up your bags looking for something (For example, I usually do a modern military cosplay of some kind, so I just toss the field repair kit in one of my pouches.).
In addition, I like to pack most of what I’m carrying a week before I leave for the con. That way, I’m not rushing, and I have time to think about whether or not I forgot anything.
3. Specialty preparation
Depending on what you’re doing at the con past just attending, you’ll need to spend some time preparing for that, too. For example, I run panels, which means I need to research, prepare, and rehearse material before leaving for the convention. Attending as press might involve arranging interviews beforehand and so on. The bottom line is to know what’s expected of you and prepare for it beforehand.
That does it for preparation! If there’s anything I missed that you’d like more detail on, drop a comment!