FREE Priority Mail Shipping Over $65

Convention Survival Guide: 6 Tips to Help You Prepare for a Con

Convention Survival Guide: 6 Tips to Help You Prepare for a Con

Excited about attending your first convention? Of course you are! Cons are a blast, but they can be stressful (and expensive) if you don’t get your ducks in a row.

But if you give yourself enough time, you’ll get to focus on the fun and not on what you forgot to pack or whether you brought enough cash. Here are six convention planning tips to get you started.

1. Buy your badge well in advance.

Pre-register for the con if you can. Most cons increase their prices every few months until opening day, so getting your badge early can save you a lot of money. You don’t want to have to drop $100 at the door, especially if you’re on a budget.

Plus, you might have to wait in line for several minutes or even hours. One year, we forgot to pre-register for a summer con, so we ended up in line outside in 80-degree heat for over an hour. Not pleasant. (We won’t name names, but don’t worry — that con has gotten better since then.)

The sooner you register, the better. You can typically pick up your badge on opening day (sometimes as early as Thursday), and some cons will even mail it to you. And in case you can’t make it to the con, check their website to see if you can roll over your membership to the next year.

2. Start (or buy) your cosplay early.

Ask any cosplayer, and they probably have a horror story about a costume they waited until last minute to finish. We’ve been there, too. Don’t let that be you. Get your materials and get sewing as soon as you can.

If you’re commissioning a cosplay instead, give the builder plenty of time, too, in case something happens. They might need to make adjustments, they might run out of thread, or their sewing machine might die on them. Don’t create a stressful situation for them by putting off the project.

3. Book your hotel room early.

Thousands of people attend a con, so hotels can fill up fast, especially those closer to the host hotel or convention center. Book as soon as possible to ensure you get the room you want.

Check back to the ConPack’d Blog for tips on how to save money on your hotel!

4. Get your transportation in order.

All your planning will be wasted if you can’t even get to the con! Make sure your ride is ready.

If you’re driving, inspect your car or get it looked at by the pros before you go. Check the oil, tire pressure, battery, air conditioner or heater (depending on the season) — all that jazz. We skipped this step one year and ended up with a blown tire on a busy highway. (Many other mistakes were made, too.)

If you’re flying, typical vacation planning rules apply. Reserve your ticket early.

5. Learn about where you’re going.

Research the area where the con will be held, especially if you’re driving. Some important things to know:

  • Where are the hotels? How far are they from the con? (You should know that before booking one, of course.)
  • Where’s the airport?
  • What are the roads like?
  • What will the weather be like that weekend? Will you need an umbrella? Coat? Sunscreen?
  • Where are some good places to eat that won’t break the bank?

Don’t forget to share that info with your loved ones in case of emergency, even if they’re not going with you.

6. Make your packing list.

You don’t have to do this eight months before the con, but at least make your list and pack the night before so you won’t forget anything.

What are some of the convention essentials? (See what we did there?) Besides your cosplay pieces (wigs and wig caps, shoes, props, etc.), you’ll of course need toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, and deodorant. Don’t forget to bring electronics like your phone, a phone charger, and your tablet (or laptop), too.

You’ll also want a bag or backpack to carry your stuff — and the merch you buy in the dealer’s room, snacks so you can fuel up between panels, and a water bottle to keep you hydrated, especially at a summer or winter con. (Want a head start? Grab one of our handy Convention Survival Kits!)

Anime Convention Survival Kit (Strawberry or Chocolate Pocky, Drawstring Bag, and More)

What about clothes? You’ll want to wear outfits that are easy to move around in. If you’re cosplaying, make sure you have a change of clothes with you.

Also, bring comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, standing in autograph lines, waiting for the shuttle, etc. And again, cosplayers, remember to bring an extra pair in case you get tired.

Finally, bring paper, not just plastic. Not all dealers accept credit cards (extra fees and all). Someone might snatch up that anime figurine you’ve been looking for while you’re waiting in line for the ATM, so make sure you have cash on you!

By the way, bring more than you think you need. Emergencies happen. (No, that anime figurine doesn’t count as an emergency.)

Follow these six tips, and you’ll have your best shot at a fun, stress-free experience. Enjoy your first con!

March 2023