How to survive your first convention
June is nearly upon us, which means it’s that time of year again: temperatures are rising, the days are getting longer and the air is almost electric with anticipation.
Yes, the season we’ve all been waiting for is just about here!
What? No, not summer.
With so many great anime and comic conventions just around the corner and attendance numbers at all-time highs, there are a ton of new faces. If you’re among those planning on attending your first convention this summer, here are some tips to make sure it goes smoothly.
Read the Code of Conduct
Whether you’re planning to cosplay or just going as yourself, the convention’s code of conduct should be your bible. The rules in it are there to make sure everyone has a safe, fun experience. Reading and following it is the best way to keep you from running afoul of convention staff, which leads us to our next tip.
Respect the Staff
Convention staff are wonderful people. They are volunteering their time to help make this experience as pleasant for you as possible. However, when I say “you,” I do not mean “you in particular.” I mean “convention attendees.” And if you in particular start acting in such a way that you begin ruining the convention experience for others, you and the convention staff will start having problems.
If a staff member tells you to do or not do something, listen to them. Nine times out of ten, they’re trying to keep you and your friends safe. Even if you disagree with them or you feel they are misunderstanding you, or even if you think they’re just being jerks, don’t start yelling at them. Channel your inner Mr. Rogers or Bob Ross and talk to them in a calm, positive manner.
The 6-2-1 Rule
The most common mistake attendees — and even veterans — make is not taking care of their bodies. Malnutrition and poor hygiene are why you see people passed out in the halls and hear complaints about getting sick after a convention.
The 6-2-1 rule is a simple way to make sure your body has the fuel it needs to keep you going strong. It breaks down like this: Get at least 6 hours of sleep, two full meals (not PopTarts), and 1 shower a day. If you can hit that minimum, not only will you never have to worry about making it through the day, but you’ll also smell nice and clean.
Conventions are exciting, and it’s easy to get caught up in everything going on and forget to, say, drink water. Wait too long for a drink and you might find yourself at the business end of a dehydration headache. The last thing you want is to be curled up in a loud, sticky hallway trying to sit out the pain.
To keep yourself well hydrated, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you drink 2-3 liters of fluids a day. And, while sodas count as fluids, water and juices are preferred. However, chugging it all at once won’t help you. The key is to drink regularly throughout the day and to drink when you’re thirsty. If you carry a bottle of water (or two) with you and set a reminder on your phone to go off every hour or so, you can make sure to stay nice and hydrated throughout the day.
Don’t stress the schedule
One of the biggest things I see newbies do is stress about keeping to a schedule. They try to push through the foot traffic getting from one room to another and get upset when they’re blocked by a roving cosplay conga line (a legitimate grievance, but I digress). Instead of setting your convention timetable to military precision, keep it flexible. Take the convention schedule and circle everything that looks interesting and a couple of things that you wouldn’t normally attend. If it doesn’t look like you’re going to make it to the panel you want to go to, just go to the nearest one. Is that out of the question as well? Why not hit the viewing room. You might find a show you’ll like but otherwise might not have seen.
Conventions are fun and there are tons of ways to have a great time.