So you're going to a convention? That's great! Conventions are a lot of fun and a great place to meet new people who love the same things you do. There's a lot of things that can go into preparing for a convention, that you may not be aware. Here's some of my tips to help relieve that "am I forgetting anything" feeling!
First things first, my number one tip is: if you are cosplaying and you have to travel, purchased a hard-shell suitcase. Fabric ones and other non-sturdy suitcases can risk any fragile costume pieces getting damage during transport.
While on that topic, it's probably good to mention, that you should plan your cosplay line-up accordingly. If you have to travel a long distance and use public transportation, you need to take this into consideration. Some cosplays (such as huge armor sets and large props) may simply not be transportable via suitcase. There's always the option of having it shipped to your hotel (if they allow that) or choosing a different route cosplay wise.
Number two! Make sure to give yourself enough time to build a cosplay! Don't start a complicated project only a week or two before the convention. Be realistic and use your time wisely. You don't want to end up having to pull countless all-nighters days before the convention just to finish a cosplay. Even if you don't finish a cosplay in time, don't fret! Just save it for the next one and enjoy your time at the convention (in or out of cosplay).
To jump back to the topic of suitcases and packing, have you ever got that "I'm totally forgetting something" feeling? Me too. And I've totally forgotten so many things! I've figured out a way to help me avoid that after all those times. Make a list! And don't just make it the night before, make it days before. That gives you time to go over the list each day and really make sure you've noted everything you need. Sometimes you just happen to forget something or not think about it in the moment your initially writing your list.
Don't forget the essentials either! I know most of us (cosplayers at least) are trying to remember not to forget our wigs, wig caps, costume pieces, etc and can get caught up in doing so. But you need to remember your basic necessities as well! What are you going to wear when you're not in cosplay? Got your tooth brush, tooth paste, deodorant, razor?
Number four! Make sure to have your batteries charged! You want to have your phone, iPod, game system, camera, etc at full battery when you leave. It's simply more convenient and phones just come in handy when trying to find your way around or needing your ticket information.
That leads me into my next tip! Have all your tickets printed out. Or confirmation email or bar-code. Usually the convention's FAQ section will clarify what you need to present when picking up your ticket. It's good to have those documents ready to go in multiple medias. It'd suck to have you phone die by the time you reach the front of the line and it's annoying for everyone else if they have to wait for you to pull up your email.
What about planning your days? Most conventions will list all their various activities (panels, signings, cosplay gatherings) on the website weeks prior to the actual conventions. This can help with planning out your days and cosplay line-up. Remember to note line times. Larger conventions have longer lines and people sometimes line up hours before the panel/signing. If it helps, writing it down in some sort of easy-to-carry planner can be useful while at the convention.
Speaking of gatherings, attend them! It's a fantastic way to meet fellow cosplayers, photographers, and con-goers interested in the same things as you. I've made so many friends just by hanging out at gatherings and chatting with people. It's also fun to see all the cosplays from the same fandom as yours.
Here's a couple other cosplay-relate tips to take note of when prepping for a convention.
If you're a cosplayer or photographer, get business cards! This will help cosplayers find the photos of them after the convention and help photographers in tagging the cosplayers when posting photos. They're also a great way to exchange information quickly and easily when you meet someone you want to catch up more with later!
If you have the time and budget, try to buy or make different bags that match the costume of the character you're cosplaying! At the very least, try to incorporate pockets into your cosplays. They will be desperately needed! You want to have a place to safely store your belongings (such as your wallet and phone).
Something that's always said, multiple times, but is never a bad thing to note: shower! Please shower before you hit that convention floor and maintain good hygiene while there! Conventions can be crowded and no one wants to be at an event where everyone smells bad. Be considerate of those who are around you.
Avoid convention food! Not saying it's bad, in fact it can be pretty good or unique. This tip is mostly for those who are on a budget. Convention food is typically hiked up in price (and to the max). If you're trying to keep your spending on the lower end, eat else where. It's a good idea to travel a few blocks away from the convention before looking for food, hit up fast food joints or buy food from places like Target or Walmart that you can eat "cold" or heat up in your hotel's microwave.
Wait till the last day to buy! Unless you see something selling fast, it's a good idea to wait till the last day or day before last to really look into buying some goodies. Booths will typically lower their prices or have sales on items on the last day. They want to leave with as little items as possible! At some booths, you can even haggle down prices.
My final tip (for now) would be to secure room, travel and tickets as early as possible! Tickets are usually cheaper the further away the convention date is. As the convention draws near, they usually go up in price. Try to grab them early when they're not as expensive.
While on the topic of tickets, a lot of conventions will connect with and sell tickets through Eventbrite. Their tools make it easy to find and plan conventions in your area!
It's good to book your travel and hotel early. Make sure you have the funds to cover the place yourself or you're 100% certain no one you're rooming with will back out on you. It'll suck to have to pay those early cancellation fees. It's a good idea to have clear guidelines when booking rooms with others about things like this (such as splitting the fee or when it becomes too late to back out without paying one's share). Travel is also cheaper to book early (depending on the mode of transportation).
Thanks for reading. I hope some of these tips will come in handing for your next (or first) convention! I'll probably be back with another post like this in the future, as I think up or come across more helpful tips!
~Positive Outcomes Only~
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