Hey puddins! It’s been a while since I last posted, and that’s because I find myself completely swamped. Keeping up with my other articles usually keeps me busy, but this month I have a lot to get ready for, as September 1st-4th I’ll be at Fan Expo Canada!
Anyone who’s been to a convention will relate to the excitement, but if you haven’t gone, it’s such an amazing time! From the hilarious panels, the insanely talent-filled Artist’s Alley, to the chance to meet your favourite celebrities, almost all of my happiest memories are from conventions. So needless to say that being able to attend for the entire weekend has driven my excitement levels through the roof!
I’ve been busy creating lists, finishing my cosplays, and prepping for the con, which is why I’ve been absent in this little corner of the internet for a short while. But I’m back now, and as the con is less than two weeks away, I thought it’d be a good idea to share some con-going tips for all you newbies out there! Here are some things that I absolutely recommend bringing to the convention to ensure optimum fun and minimal stress.
I cannot stress this enough. You may be like me and able to just run on fumes food wise, but you’ll definitely need to keep hydrated throughout the day. You can always buy a pop at one of the vendors if you need caffeine, but they tend to be really expensive so its best to bring your own water if you can!
Like I said, I’m mostly able to run on fumes. Last year, I swear I had a little chocolate bar halfway through the day and didn’t eat again until 9 at night. While I was able to do that, I definitely shouldn’t have. I was ready to devour the world by the end of the day. You can rely on the vendors for lunch (just be prepared for the prices), but its always nice to have a little something to keep you going, especially if you’re far away from places to get food. Granola bars and little snack-packs/trail mixes are always a good way to go. Be sure to bring things that don’t need to be refrigerated, and ideally that aren’t going to melt on you.
This is great for freshening up, especially if you’re about to get a photo with your fave celeb. I personally prefer mints over gum, because gum tends to lose its flavor fast. Tic Tacs are my go to, but whatever your preference is should work.
Believe me when I say that there is far more to see than just the celebrities. Wandering by the official booths and down Artist’s Alley, I guarantee you’ll see countless items to add to your nerd collection. But most booths don’t accept debit, visa, etc., only cash. There are, of course, ATMs located throughout the building, but the lines can get ridiculously long and will waste precious time. They should be used as a last resort, so be sure to stop at the bank before heading into the con.
5. MAPS MAPS MAPS
Seriously, this one is a life saver!! People may call me over prepared, but while they’re stressing, not being able to find the panel they needed to see, I’m already in line. Whether you’re trying to find food, a particular exhibitor, or a hall where a panel is being held, maps will help to cut down a lot of time. They can often be found on the official sites of the convention (if not, most will get back to emails quickly), or, if you are subscribed, in the magazine that should arrive at your doorstep approximately a month before the con. Keep in mind those aren’t always finalized though, so keep your eyes peeled!
6. A SCHEDULE
If you’re just going to walk around, you won’t need this. However, if there are photo ops you need to take and panels you need to see, a schedule will be your best friend. I like to start as soon as the first draft of the schedule is released, just so I have a general idea of where I need to be and what I want to see. Keep in mind that you want to give yourself some time in between events, as lines can get large, and you want to get a good seat. This will depend on the size of the con and the day (Saturdays are always the busiest), so be sure to keep these factors in mind when planning. Spontaneity is fun, but you don’t want to accidentally miss something, so plan ahead!
7. Comfy Shoes
If you aren’t cosplaying, I beg of you, WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. I know that your mom will probably tell you the same thing, and you might shrug her off, but don’t! My feet are always killing me by the end of a con, and especially if you’re doing multiple days, you don’t want to be in pain the whole time. Running shoes are great, but really anything that is comfortable for you.
If, like me, you cosplay, comfy shoes aren’t always that simple. But there are still some tips I can give you. Insoles are a Godsend. You just slip them into the shoe and they add a little bit of bounce and extra support. You might also want to bring a pair of comfy shoes/slippers just for when you get a chance to sit down to change into. Keep in mind though, that if your shoes are super tight, you may not be able to get them back on once you take them off (due to swelling), so I’ll leave you to trust your better judgement.
This may seem like a small thing, but I’m a stickler for details. And it’s often the smaller things that you find yourself wishing you had! Maybe you just need to blow your nose, maybe you need to wipe up a spill, or maybe you cry when you meet a celebrity (I cried after I met Ian Somerhalder, don’t judge me). Either way, Kleenex is handy to have, and I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
9. Lip chap
I feel like this is self explanatory?
10. Makeup / Travel Hair Products
This one is more for cosplayers than anyone else, but even if you aren’t cosplaying you may want it with you! Lipstick is definitely going to come off during the day, and you’ll want to reapply. But at this time of year it’s extremely hot, and you may be waiting in line for a while. This is in case the humidity gets to you or you start to sweat. Again, better to have and not need than need and not have. Extra bobby pins and elastics are also good to have.
11. An Empty Tote Bag
It may be empty when you arrive, but it won’t be when you leave! As I said before, you’ll be seeing tons of things you’ll want to buy, and you won’t want to try and balance them all in your hands! Bringing an empty bag makes things a lot easier, and the bigger, the better. I like to bring more than one because I know I buy way too much, but again, trust your better judgement. If you’re cosplaying and don’t want it to ruin the look, keep it themed! I bought a Game of Thrones Targaryen themed one from Brown Paper Fox that works beautifully! You can check them out here, and the rest of Society6 along with Redbubble has great stores to explore. If all else fails, stores like Ardene usually have a good selection.
12. Camera / Phone / Charger
You will run into some amazing attractions and some incredible cosplayers during your time at the con, and you’ll want to capture it all! If you have a camera, definitely bring it, but otherwise your phone should work. Your phone will also be great to have so you can tweet, snap, and post your heart out about the amazing time you’re having, who you just saw, and that amazing print you just picked up. Be sure to bring your charger, just in case!
Extra tip: Photographers, bring multiple empty SD cards and fully charged batteries.
13. A Travel List
This is more for beforehand, but its great for if you’re staying in a hotel as well. Make a list of everything you need to bring to the con, down to the last cotton ball. Start this list a couple of weeks prior to the con so you can add to it as you think of things, this way you’re less likely to forget something. Bring it with you to the con to make sure you don’t leave anything at the hotel!
14. Business Cards
This is great if you have a blog, tumblr, or even just your social media handles that you want to share with people you meet! This is the first year that I have business cards and I’m really excited about them! It’s a great way to keep in touch with people, or if you’re a cosplayer/have a blog, for people to follow your work! I definitely recommend Vistaprint as they deliver quickly and their pricing is inexpensive.
15. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs
This woman is seriously fantastic, and you will not want to leave home without her genius book, The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy. It touches on the basics and need-to-know of fandom and has a section devoted to con-going. It’s become my bible. She lists a lot of great things to bring to a convention (I’m definitely missing some) and she offers a lot of great advice. I had the pleasure of meeting her at last year’s Fan Expo, and it was one of the best experiences ever. She’ll also be attending this year, for those of you interested!
There you have it! These are 15 must-haves for going to a convention. Any that I missed? Post them down in the comments! And if you’re attending Fan Expo Canada in a couple of weeks, let me know! If you see me, feel free to say hi!
Sincerely, Fiction’s Mistress