When you go to an anime, gaming, or comic convention, there are several things you can do to make your life easier while at the convention. I’ve been going to conventions for over ten years, so hopefully these tips will help newcomers who have the question of “What do I bring to the convention and how do I survive all the people?”
1. Bring the essentials.
- Bottled Water – stay hydrated
- Snack – curb hunger
- Portable Phone Battery – stay powered on
- Smaller Wallet – keep your essentials close
- Spare Tote Bag or Plastic Art Sleeve – for those dealer’s room and artist alley purchases
- Backpack, Purse, Fanny Pack, or some small bag. – for holding all the goodies above
- Convention Badge – absolutely cannot go anywhere in con without it!
2. Plan your schedule-ish.
Review the schedule prior to the convention as most have them posted online. Note any special guests you may want autographs from, panels you may want to visit, or any special concerts or dances you want to attend. Have a rough guide of a few things you want to do, but do not stick to a stringent schedule as things can get wild with how many people are at the convention.
3. Buying Artwork? Bring a sleeve!
You’re buying art at the convention and the seller doesn’t have an art sleeve or a bag– what do you do? Whip out your tote bad and your sleeve! You will save your purchases and autographed peices in this hardshell plastic until you can safely place it in your home. Search for “thick artwork sleeves” or “thick artwork protectors” on Amazon or other retailers.
4. Bring something to autograph!
If you see a celebrity that you really want an autograph for in the programming book, maybe bring something for them to sign! Most of the time the celebrity will have a poster you can purchase and have them sign, but you can save a little cash if you have your own item for the celebrity to sign.
5. Plan a photoshoot or go to one
You’ve worked hard on your cosplay– now let’s show it to the world! You can always join a competition if you’ve handmaid a certain percentage of your cosplay, but booking a private photoshoot or joining a group photoshoot that is advertised is a great way to meet people in the same fandom as you. I’ve met so many friends through photoshoots in my past 10 years of cosplaying, it’s been rewarding to go to fandom photoshoots and meet the fellow people there. You will network and get some great photos of your cosplay at the same time! Feel free to check facebook for an unofficial photoshoot schedule, or some conventions like Momocon offer a photoshoot schedule with location and time for seperate fandoms.
6. Join online discussion groups for that convention
Whether is be Facebook, Reddit, Tiktok, Instagram, or etc., it would be wise to join one of the social media groups for the convention you’re visiting to stay abreast of announcements involving the schedule and special guests. This is also a good way to network and meet up (safely in a public place) with friends.
7. Make large props easier to transport
If you have large props that are involved with your cosplay, it might be smart to make them more portable if at all possible. KamuiCosplay has a perfect YouTube video explaining this process below;
8. Mail In to Beat the Lines
If you know for sure that you are going to a convention, it is smart to book it as early as possible and check the “mail in” option. This will send your badge right to your doorstep and you can bring it to the convention with you! There will be no need to waste time in pre-registration lines with this mail-in options.
9. Schedule the hotel block opening
This can go along with tip#6, where you will want to join an online community. The activity of a hotel block opening for a convention is likely to be posted on discussion forums. If you can get a date when a hotel block will be open, mark it in your calendar and grab yourself a discounted room that is either the main convention hotel or a hotel nearby. This can save you the headache of finding a last minute place. Most hotels do not charge a deposit outright, but be sure to read the terms and rules to see what works for your family and buget.
10. Remember this is a vacation!
Unless you’re working artist alley, vendors, or volunteering for convention staff, then this is an absolute vacation for you! Don’t let the stress of a cosplay not working out, people not noticing who you are, or friend drama ruin your vacation time that you’ve earned. This is supposed to be a fun experience full of memories. Don’t neglect your physiological needs to eat, sleep, and shower. Enjoy your convention to the fullest and make memories with those around you. Cosplay is all about the fun!
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