Up until this weekend, I had never been to a comic convention. I have been a part of fandoms that take part in these conventions for almost a decade, but it’s just never come up. When I went to New York Comic Con (NYCC) with The Pop Insider this past weekend, I was thrown right in with only a small idea of what to expect. If you’ve never been to a con, keep reading to find out what I think are the most important tips for a future con-goer.
Tip #1: Take care of your body
This may seem obvious, but make sure you’re giving your body everything it needs to thrive during a con. Drink lots of water; eat balanced meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and get lots of rest. Those convention centers are big — you’re walking 5+ miles per day, and your body can’t do that if you don’t give it the tools it needs.
Tip #2: Wear good shoes
Like I said, you’re walking several miles a day. If you wear bad shoes one day, it can throw off the rest of your con-going experience. You should also bring multiple pairs of shoes, especially if you’re prone to getting blisters. Blister patches and hydrocolloid bandages can only do so much if you continue to have something rubbing up against your blisters. Even if your shoes don’t match your cosplay, you’ll be thanking yourself at the end of the weekend.
Tip #3: Plan ahead
Going into your con, make sure you have an idea of what you want to see and where those things are located. It’s great to go with the flow, but you don’t want to find yourself at the main stage at 1:30 p.m. when you have to be at a panel across the convention center in half an hour. The crowds, especially at NYCC and SDCC, are crazy, and you need to incorporate travel time into all of your plans. Also, you should research what panels and exhibitors you want to see before the con so you can schedule your day or days to have the easiest experience possible.
Tip #4: Make your reservations early
It was 10:30 a.m. the morning reservations opened when I logged in to make my NYCC panel reservations. I had a few in mind that I particularly wanted to go to, but by the time I made it to the front of the line, most of them were totally sold out. If you are trying to catch some of the bigger panels or conversations with your fave celebs, you want to be logged in as soon as you can. This is the geeks’ Eras Tour Ticketmaster war.
Tip #5: Watch where you’re going
For the love of god, don’t stop in the middle of an aisle to take photos or try and get a signal on your phone. If you have to stop, move to the edge of the aisle or find a space with fewer people. Also, if you have props, lightsabers, or otherwise protruding objects from your body, stay aware of them so you don’t hit anybody as you maneuver through large crowds.
Tip #6: Pack light
No matter how much space you leave in your luggage for merch, it’s not enough. I thought I had packed pretty light for NYCC and came home with a whole extra bag of goodies on top of filling up all that extra space I left in my suitcase.
Here is a list of what you definitely should be packing for any con:
- Fandom ‘fits or cosplays
- At least two pairs of comfortable shoes
- Portable chargers for any devices you are using regularly
- A watch
- A sturdy backpack
- A reusable water bottle
- Blister patches or hydrocolloid bandages
Tip #7: Pay attention to the weather
Before I started packing for my trip to New York, I saw that it was supposed to rain one of the days I was going to NYCC. I added my raincoat, rain boots, and an umbrella to my packing list, all of which were total lifesavers as I walked from my hotel to the Javits Center. Likewise, if it is supposed to be sunny and hot, you should bring extra water and sunscreen to stay cool, even if you’re planning on being inside for most of the day.
Tip #8: Get ready to wait in line
No matter what your plans are for a convention, you’re bound to spend lots of time waiting in line. Whether it’s to grab a good seat at a panel or to meet your favorite actor or comic book artist, you’ll spend a good amount of time waiting. Make sure you leave plenty of time in your schedule for waiting in line. Also, don’t wait until you’re starving or need to go to the bathroom to get in line, it’ll make you feel more miserable than the actual waiting.
Tip #9: Be respectful
Don’t kill the vibe! Everyone is at a con to have fun. Don’t ruin it by being rude to others, cutting people in lines, or engaging in other icky behaviors!
Tip #10: Have fun!
Comic cons are some of the few places where we are allowed to fully embrace our inner geeks. Even if you’re not cosplaying, soak in all of the nerdy energy in the building and make the most out of your experience. Take pictures of the coolest outfits you see, buy that merch you’re on the fence about, and, most importantly, be in the moment.