Whether you’re a dedicated otaku who never misses your local anime convention, or you aspire to fly to San Diego’s Comic Con, there are seven failsafe ways to ensure you enjoy your time.
1. Set a budget & stick to it. You know what’s worse than post-con depression? Having post-con depression with a heaping side-dish of debt. Set out a cash amount ahead of time. Avoid bringing your credit card to the dealer’s room when possible. If you really need that U.S.S. Enterprise Captain’s chair, you’ll be happy for the time to reconsider your decision in the hour it takes to get back to your room.
2. Cosplay. Conventions are the one place where you’ll be the odd duck if you don’t. If not, you will automatically be relegated to pack mule for your more ardent friends. After all, you’re not carrying around a full-length Buster Sword reconstructed with cardboard. At least wear a t-shirt with your fandom. Be sure to hit up the cosplay photo shoots for your favorite series; you will meet some of the coolest, most creative fans at these informal gatherings.
3. Don’t hide behind your phone. Whenever I return to my favorite & first convention, Youmacon, I feel like I’m coming home to my people. Even though it’s only once a year, I know I’ll get the chance to reconnect with friends who are passionate about the same things I am. Use your phone only when you’re trying to coordinate with your friends, or look up your panel schedule. You can troll on Reddit or Facebook any time.
4. Don’t waste your time in lines. Is meeting Seth Mcfarlane for 20 seconds really worth waiting 3 hours? If you’re only going to get 10 hours a day at a convention, that’s a huge chunk of time down the toilet. Spend your time wisely, like your money. Look at the schedule in advance and think about the one or two reasons you’re attending the con. If you prioritize that, you won’t have any regrets during closing ceremonies. If you know ahead of time that you’ll die if you miss a big ticket event, spend the extra cash to get a VIP badge.
5. Talk to others while you wait. If you do find yourself stuck in every fan’s purgatory and you’re not willing to lose your spot, do yourself a favor and make friends with the people around you. You likely have a lot in common. This is a hard one for me, as an adamant hater of small talk. Luckily, in my experience, most of the people I meet at conventions are not into talking about the weather, either. They’re at the convention to talk about anime. Or video games. Pick out a person whose cosplay you recognize and engage into full nerd out mode.
And please, please avoid pickup lines.
6. Attend smaller panels. Everyone manages to make it to the main programming events and voice acting/autograph sessions, but sometimes smaller fan panels are well worth your time. Not only will you not have to wait in line or pack into the back of the room, but it’s a more intimate way to get to know others in your fandom. You might be surprised by the knowledge and experience of the panelists. Most fans these days aren’t just living out of their mom’s basement; some are working professionals with years of presentation experience. And they’re all running panels because they love the subject matter.
If you’re not sure whether you’ll enjoy a panel, sit in for a few minutes. Set your phone aside and really listen. You’ll be able to gauge the quality of the presentation within the first 5 minutes.
7. Keep a snack pack. I know you’re trying not to smudge the makeup, but it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle and granola bars in your satchel, especially if you’re standing for long periods of time in line. Most convention centers have food options, but the jacked up prices and food court crowds are a nightmare. In all the excitement, it’s easy to forget that your body needs fuel. You’ll be grateful for the spare rations when you’re feeling anemic. Remember, a hydrated cosplayer is more likely to succeed in battle.
Have any other convention tips? Comment below! For those of you attending Youmacon this weekend, I look forward to seeing you make the most out of your convention experience.