Great Tips for Surviving Your First Con!
Are you ready for your first comic convention? Well, before you head out the door, be sure to check out this list of 7 Great Comic Con Tips. Conventions can vary in size across the country, and it seems like every state has their own version, but these tips will help you survive your first outing and get the most out of it. Heck, even some battle hardened con goers might find some useful information.
Your first comic convention can be a little overwhelming, but that’s nothing to be scared of. In fact, I found my first one to be overwhelming in the best possible way. However, there are a few things I wish I had known before my first con, and after ten years of experience, I’ve managed to come up with the 7 best tips I wish I had known all those years ago.
Comic Con Tip 1: Invest in a Good Bag
Comic Conventions are a magical place filled with amazing merch, awesome comics and prints, and tons of swag. If you expect to leave empty handed, you’re in for quite a surprise. More importantly though, going to a convention means that you need to be prepared. You’re going to be walking around all day and if you think carrying everything you need won’t get old after a few hours, then you’re in for another surprise.
That’s why I recently decided to invest in a con-bag. I personally suggest a backpack, because messenger bags can put strain on your shoulders and tend to get snagged on things at the worst possible times. Since I’m someone who also likes to buy prints from artists, I made sure my bag could comfortably fit pieces that were 11X17 or 12X18, since those tend be be the large size prints that you see at conventions. Your con-bag is going to be a crucial piece for preparing for your first convention, and while you might not need to go out and buy one specifically for it, it’s good to find something in advance that you can comfortably use. Trust me when I say, it will make a world of difference when it comes time to crawl the convention floor.
Comic Con Tip 2: Wear Comfortable Shoes
Never underestimate your choice in shoes. With everything to see, don’t be surprised if you end up walking several miles by the end of the day or standing for hours in a line for a big panel. So, if you’re not cosplaying be sure to wear something practical. I recommend staying away from heels and be sure your shoes are closed toed. Sandals might be comfortable but you might regret them after the fifth cosplayer in combat boots accidentally steps on your toes.
I also suggest upgrading the soles of your shoes. Getting some gel inserts might not seem necessary, but years of comic conventions have taught me that they are well worth the investment. My go to shoes are typically Chuck Taylors, but any sort of sneaker with a soft sole and ankle support will help. Don’t worry if they aren’t the fanciest shoes in the world, no one will be looking at your feet if you’re not cosplaying, and anyone you meet will be more interested in your fandoms than your foot wear. You’re there to have fun, so make sure you dress for the occasion and keep your comfort in mind.
Comic Con Tip 3: Bring a Portable Phone Charger
Comic conventions are an all day affair and your phone battery probably won’t last through most of it. Don’t underestimate how often you’re going to pull your phone out to snap a picture of a cosplayer, check out a vendor’s site, or just try to get in touch with your buddies you got separated from for the 5th times already today. Your phone is going to spend as much time in your hand as your pocket. Plus with everyone trying to use their phones at the same time, you’re going to be searching for signal a lot too, which will also drain your battery life.
That’s why it’s a good idea to carry not only a backup battery but also carry cables for both Android and Apple. Why? Because you’ll get the opportunity to be a real life superhero when someone complains about their phone dying. Back up batteries don’t cost much these days, and you can use them for more than just conventions. It’s not a crucial piece of equipment to have, but it’s one that will definitely come in handy. Especially if you plan on hitting any of the after parties most cons have lined up.
Comic Con Tip 4: Bring Snacks
If there is one universal truth about comic conventions, the food is overpriced and it sucks. So, if you want to keep your energy up and not break your bank, be sure to bring snacks. That doesn’t mean tossing a bag of chips into your bag and heading out. At least pretend to be healthy, and pack some granola or protein bars. At some point, you will break down and buy some food and your body will hate you enough for what you do settle on in the convention. So, be kind to yourself and make sure your snacks aren’t all loaded with sugar and fat.
Make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach though and try not to over encumber yourself with food. I recommend taking 3 to 5 bars with you, so you have enough for yourself and to offer to a friend or two. That way you won’t have to deal with being stuck around someone who is “hangry” all day. Along these lines, I also suggest bringing a bottle of water with you. If you go to a lot of cons, it might be wise to invest in a water bottle with a built in filter. That way you can keep refilling it (for some reason water fountains at cons are also always terrible). If this is your first con, then just be sure to grab a liter of water on your way up that day.
Comic Con Tip 5: Plan Your Itinerary
There is a lot to see and do at comic conventions. That’s why it’s important to plan your attack. Be sure to review the panels that are showing, celebrities in attendance, and even check out some of the con exclusives. If you really want to go in depth, take a look at the layout of the hall and even check out the artists and small press that will be there in advance. That way you’ll have a good idea of what your priorities are before you even set foot on the floor.
Now, it’s also important to not overload yourself. Looking at all the things to do it’s easy to try to schedule every minute in advance. From personal experience though, I can attest that your plans will go right out the window after the first few hours. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t figure out your priorities at the con, but don’t stress yourself out trying to figure out how to do it all. No matter what, you’ll get a chance to see a lot of amazing things and most of the really great things about a con are all the random fun you’ll get into. So, have a plan, but don’t be afraid to improvise.
Comic Con Tip 6: Stay Health Conscious
Con-crude. Con-cough. Con-flu. Whatever you call it, it’s very real and it will wreck you after a convention. I can’t stress enough how imporant this comic con tip is. It’s not that conventions are dirty places, but when you have thousands of people trying to squeeze down aisles, sitting shoulder to shoulder in panels, and waiting in long lines together, some germs are bound to get passed around. Before you panic though, there are a few simple ways to make sure you avoid getting sick.
Even before the convention, start buffing up your immune system. Starting to take a multivitamin or even something like Airbourne or Emergen C a day or two in advance will give you an edge. I also suggest bringing some portable hand sanitizer with you to use throughout the day. You won’t need much, but having it to make sure your hands are clean before you eat or after shaking hands with a few vendors will really make a dramatic difference.
If you do bring a backpack, consider stocking some basic first aid supplies as well. Headache meds, bandaids, and any personal medication you have should have a nice safe place in your bag.
Comic Con Tip 7: Use/Bring Deodorant
As much as it seems like this goes without saying, be sure you wear deodorant. Not everyone at a comic convention knows the importance of personal hygiene, but you don’t have to contribute to it. Walking around all day and having thousands of people in a big hall can really make you start to sweat. Plus, if you’re meeting your favorite celebrity, nerves can play a part in sending your pits into overdrive. That’s why I always make sure I bring some extra deodorant with me in case I need to touch up during the day. You never know who you might run into and it would suck to be remembered as that smelly person from the con.
Unlike some of the other items on this list though, I don’t suggest bringing deodorant to share. Because, well, that’s just kinda gross.
Those are just a few tips for people preparing for their first comic convention. The more you go to, the more you’ll learn exactly how to tailor your experience to best suit you. I’ll be sure to bring you more tips and tricks for making the most of your con, but I want to hear what suggestions you might have for a successful con. Be sure to comment below with the things you make sure you do to prepare for a great comic convention.