If you’re like me, you spend the better part of your summer attending conventions and after 5 years in the video game/geek/film industry, I’m here to give you a few quick tips to make your convention experience a great one!
1. Travel light!
Because of my Rheumatoid Arthritis, I tend to have to pack things I may need while on the show floor like ibuprofen, but I also have to carry a wireless mic for interviews and notebooks. Some say don’t take a backpack but I disagree; it doesn’t need to be a “I’m going camping for a week” backpack but a small one to pack some essentials (including Sharpies for prized autographs from your heroes) will save your life! NOTE: DO NOT USE ROLLING TRAVEL CASES; there are FAR too many people at a convention to be dragging a small-wheeled case behind you. You may injure someone…and other attendees will pretty much hate you.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Did I mention you should hydrate? Just because you’re in an enclosed space DOESN’T mean liquids aren’t a priority and with all the reusable water bottles on the market (INCLUDING the collapsible one above), you have ZERO reason for NOT packing a bottle. Even if you don’t own a bottle, just buy a bottle (NOT ON SITE – SO EXPENSIVE) at the local convenience store and refill at will. Trust me, there’s nothing sexy about passing out in front of thousands due to dehydration…especially now that everyone has smartphones and Instagram/Twitter accounts.
Even if you think you don’t have time to eat, MAKE TIME. Even if it’s a handful of nuts, fruit or a granola bar, protein, carbs and the RIGHT kinds of sugars are your friend. Believe it or not, sometimes you’ll find yourself walking up to a couple miles a day while cruising by every booth/panel you desire and btw, even standing in place burns calories. If you can’t afford a full meal, there are so many meal bars and protein bars on the market that there’s no excuse for buying a few and packing in your suitcase. Just because it’s small doesn’t mean you aren’t getting all the nutrients you need! If you have room in your bag, don’t be afraid to pack a lunch…unless you WANT to spend $10 for a pretzel and soda (not even kidding) that you could’ve used toward that vintage Batman print you saw on your way to buy food.
4. Take rest breaks
I know, I know…we’re all immortal, right? Well, If you blow all your energy on the FIRST day, you’re gonna be a sad panda if you’re too sore to enjoy the rest of the convention. Because of my Rheumatoid Arthritis AND the fact that I attend these shows for Girl Gamer and GeekNation (which means I have to make many, MANY appointments/interviews), I have learned the art of time management. In my case (as a journalist), I give myself 30 minutes between each appointment so I’m not rushing from point A to point B…which also means less chance of looking like a Sweaty Betty whilst interviewing someone from True Blood or Game Of Thrones. As an attendee, I utilize the handy dandy exhibitor map to plot out a course of attack every day…if you lose your exhibitor map, don’t panic – you can just hit an info booth and get another for free (in most cases).
5. Emergency cash
There ARE times where on-site ATMs may not work (or more likely, run out of cash), cabbies don’t take credit/debit cards or the food stand is cash only, so I always carry around $40 cash JUST in case I find myself stuck in a situation where only cash will do.
6. SMELL GOOD (or at the VERY least, smell acceptable)
If you’ve been to ANY large convention, this goes without saying. But surprisingly, there ARE some girls out there that think they can’t POSSIBLY smell like a foot or be a Halitosis Hannah. Because I’m on camera most of these conventions, I make a spot in my bag for powder (no shiny faces on camera), deodorant, mints and at times, a travel toothbrush/toothpaste. All these things come in travel sizes, so TAKE ADVANTAGE. You may be able to actually get these free from your hotel (if they provide free toiletries for guests) but on the whole you can also find at a 7-Eleven for under $2.
Well, there you have it! I hope this has been informative as well as entertaining! If you’ve any other tips you’d like to share, feel free to add in the comments below!
But the ONE rule I want you to follow more than any other is…
7. HAVE FUN!
I don’t really need to explain THAT one, do I?