by Rachel Stewart / notprolificnotprofound
The holidays are over. Winter will hopefully be over sooner than later, and that means only one thing: conventions are a’coming.
Whether you’re a cosplayer, gamer, panelist, or simple spectator, going to multiple conventions a year can be fun but exhausting. Here’s how to survive your weekend of geeky fun without coming home with Con Crud.
1. Plan Your Con Experience. Making time to see ALL THE THINGS and ALL THE PEOPLE can make even the most seasoned con goer anxious. Look at the schedules as soon as they go up and set a flexible itinerary, because sometimes panels don’t go as planned and having a back up can keep your con experience from derailing into “THIS SUCKS” territory. Also, if you need downtime, take it. Don’t be afraid to tell people you’ll catch up later or the next day if you’re not feeling it. For cosplayers, your days may be planned out in costumes you’re wearing for photo shoots or panels. Pack accessories ahead of time and invest in luggage so you can carry what you need with ease. I’ve got two lightweight trunks that stay packed with shoes, books, and other odds and ends so I’m ready to head out at any time. If you’re working on a new cosplay, bump your deadline up so you don’t end up flipping out the night before a con like all the cosplayers on Heroes of Cosplay. Just. Don’t.
2. Sleep. Sure, you want to stay up with your friends playing Cards Against Humanity drinking whiskey until 5 a.m., or head to that all-night rave, or do the Time Warp at the midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show, or jump into the hotel hot tub while you’re dressed like JEM. That’s fine. IT’S A CON. DO WHAT YOU WANT. At some point your body will give up and want you to sleep. So take naps, or set aside certain hours for sleeping.
3. Eat. YOU CANNOT LIVE ON FAST FOOD ALONE. Sure, Taco Bell is cheap and close to your hotel. That doesn’t mean you should actually consume it. [Unless you are hungover. Then Go Pass Go, Collect $5 and your Mexican pizza and frozen Baja Blast.] Stock up on healthy snacks you can keep in your hotel room throughout the weekend. Trail mix, granola bars, bananas, and oranges will save your life when you’re hungry and nothing’s open. Contrary to popular belief, that mini-fridge isn’t built just for vodka, Red Bull, and 5-Hour Energy. Stash it full of good things like Greek yogurt, string cheese, juice, bottled water, sports drinks, or your leftovers from dinner.Take advantage of your hotel’s Continental breakfast. Have a bowl of oatmeal and some fruit with a side of bacon and a cup of coffee. If you forgo this advice, bring a good multi-vitamin to take while you wash down that cold Chinese takeout with a Mimosa in a red Solo cup.
4. Shower. CON FUNK IS REAL AND GROSS AND NOBODY HAS TIME FOR IT. In the past few years, I’ve sadly found this doesn’t apply to gamers. [Apologies to all the freshly showered gamers out there. I know you exist, too.] The powers in the universe created hotel showers and mini soap and shampoo for a very special reason: THEY WANTED YOU TO USE IT. The same goes for deodorant. If you’re a cosplayer, launder or dry clean your cosplays before con. If you’re wearing a fairly complicated costume all day, a spritz of Febreze can help you stay fresh. Also, follow your momma’s orders: wash your hands and don’t drink after anyone. That’s a one-way track to Con Crud if you don’t follow those two rules.
5. Be polite. Most people have taken time off from work to come to a con. There’s no reason to be an asshole. Lines are long. Yes, they suck. Make friends in line. Play Doctor Who Legacy on your tablet or iPhone. Play your 3DS. Be patient. If you’re meeting someone that’s had an impact on your life or you generally enjoy, think of what you want to say before you head up to their table or get that photo op. I’ve made it a habit of thanking guests for attending cons on the principle that they are spending time away from potential work, family, and loved ones to hang out with hundreds or thousands of people.
At the end of the day, most congoers are the same: geeky people who are passionate about their interests and who enjoy having fun. So DO ALL THE THINGS, just take care of yourself.
Rachel Stewart has been obsessed about all things pop culture from an early age, but counts Doctor Who and Jem and the Holograms among her main obsessions. She blogs about her cosplay adventures at conventions, weekly geek-inspired outfits and whatever else takes her fancy at her blog notprolificnotprofound. Like her cosplay profile at AllBackToFront.