Once relegated to niche audiences, anime, comic, and gaming conventions have been on the rise worldwide.
From industry expos accommodating hundreds of thousands of attendees over the course of a single weekend to smaller events held in a handful of rooms at a local college, fans now have countless opportunities to connect with greater fanbases.
However, for a first-timer, attending a convention can be a daunting prospect.
Luckily, you have this handy guide!
Keep scrolling to see the top six tips on attending a convention.
1. Budget For Everything
From overpriced hotel convenience stores to shiny merchandise, it’s easy to overspend at a convention.
Make sure to set aside a budget for everything from hotel rental to show floor spending.
If possible, withdraw your weekend cash ahead of time. Once you reach your maximum spending limit, resist the temptation to take out more money.
Your bank account will hate you less for it.
2. Set a Schedule, but Don’t Overdo It
Prior to the convention, you should set up a basic schedule which includes planned meal times, as well as events which are must-sees.
Start off by taking a look at the convention panel schedule, which is typically finalized and posted on the event website approximately one to two weeks beforehand.
Larger industry conventions may upload theirs as much as one month prior.
Comb through the schedule and pluck out a few “must-see” events for yourself.
Budget at least half an hour of line-up time prior to the panel starting if at a smaller convention; for larger industry events, you should prepare to wait at least an hour, if not more.
Some industry conventions may also require you to sign up for panels early in the morning.
Check with your convention of choice for their full policies.
With your panels chosen for, plan your meal times and leave the rest of your schedule as open as possible.
Giving yourself flexible time throughout the day will give you more time to explore, to rest, and let you feel less guilty about engaging in spontaneous shenanigans or long lines.
3. Snacks, Snacks, Snacks!
Picture this: you’re in the middle of the show floor poring over the merchandise when your stomach growls.
It makes sense: you’ve been walking around quite a bit, so it’s normal that you’d burn through calories pretty quickly.
Your next big meal isn’t for a couple of hours.
If you were anyone else, you would be thrown into the throes of despair, but you aren’t: you’re traveling equipped with snacks.
Good for those periods between hunger and more hunger, snacks can help keep you energized until your next meal.
For maximum energy and minimum grump, pack healthy snacks such as fruit and trail mix.
4. Test-Runs are Everything
Picture this: you’re walking through the convention center hall in your brand new sneakers.
You’re starting to realize that the leather from the body of your shoe is beginning to chafe your skin.
You walk a few more steps, and it sends a burning pain up your leg.
You have a panel to make and can’t get back to your hotel room in time.
Or, perhaps you commuted a long way in and don’t have time to go home.
You realize that this could have been prevented if you’d worn your sneakers prior to the event.
Unfortunately, situations like this are all too common.
From finding out too late that you can barely move around in your cosplay to realizing that your messenger bag is pretty uncomfortable to carry around all day, there are a lot of ways for discomfort to creep up at conventions.
For this reason, test-runs are essential.
Break in your new shoes.
Wear your cosplay for a couple of hours.
Make sure you can move around and breathe properly.
Your body will thank you at the end of the day.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Amid the excitement of the convention atmosphere, it’s easy to lose track of your sleep schedule.
While you may not want to break away from that late-night board game with your fellow nerds, remember that you want to be awake for that 9 AM panel.
Get an adequate amount of sleep each night to avoid fatigue.
Similarly, as tempting as it may be to munch down on overpriced bags of convention center chips or, for anime fans, pocky and mochi all day, take a break.
Get some hearty sustenance into you a couple of times over the course of each day.
The convention will still be there when you get back.
Additionally, remember to bathe.
As tempting as it may be to roll out of bed and head straight to your first panel still donning half of yesterday’s body paint, washing up ensures maximum comfort level not only for you, but for your fellow attendees and helps to prevent the spread of viruses over the course of the weekend.
6. Have Fun
Above all else, the most important rule of any convention is to have fun!
Talk to your fellow convention goers, compare merchandise quality from vendors, and make memories that will last a lifetime.