Convention Survival Guide Part 1: Picking Your Con

Conventions are very intense and even more so if you’re not prepared for them.  For that reason I will write up some tips I’ve learned in my experience going to many many conventions.  There are so many factors to consider and failing to take the time to consider any one of them can have a huge impact to your overall experience.  With that in mind I start with the first but a very important step, picking the convention.

Picking the convention will have a huge impact to the overall experience for several reasons.  Picking a convention close to home will help off set any traveling and possibly lodging expenses; however, people you want to see might go to other conventions.  In my case location is a huge factor because I’m hours away from a lot of things but I’m close to nothing.  I’ve only gone to a few conventions that I can do in one day without getting a hotel.  For most conventions I prefer events within easy driving distance such as four to five hours.  It’s a long drive, but it beats shelling out a lot of money for plane tickets.  If you do have to get plane tickets, shop around, look at multiple airlines with you and compare rates because the price of those tickets will have a big impact to your spending budget at the convention.  For the location you first need to decide what it would take to get to the event in the manner you want to travel and decide if your budget allows for the travel expenses.  Do this before you actually commit to your convention because plane tickets and convention tickets are non refundable.

Unfortunately you can’t travel via Tardis.

The type of convention is also important.  Anything that has comic con in the name will have a variety of actors/actresses from all sorts of genres but every guest will charge a price but stay at their booths for a considerable part of the day so it’s usually not hard to get the autographs you want, as long as you’re patient.  Then you have gaming conventions which are way less expensive and focus on games and activities, so these are great conventions to have fun at but if you’re looking for autographs these conventions won’t help you there.  Then you have anime conventions which have people involved in the creation of anime and video games.  These conventions have guests and many anime cons do not charge for autographs; however, they have very strict autograph schedules that almost always leave people disappointed because they did not line up in time.  For this part of the decision making process consider what you are the biggest fan of, how much money you’re willing to spend, and what kind of experience you are looking for.  Then determine what convention satisfies what you want to do.  All convention types offer an amazing experience but they are all very different.

What you don’t see is the huge line that goes from me to the other end of the building and then comes all the way back to me.  

Next is to do some homework.  Now that you know how far you’re willing to go for conventions and what type of convention you want to go to, the next step is the size of the convention.  You can determine the size of a convention via the convention websites as they usually provide stats on how many people showed up to previous years.  If that doesn’t work you can always look up the event on Youtube because most conventions have someone who blogs the experience.  If you’re not looking for crowds then a smaller convention is your type, but if you’re ok with a lot of people then you might want to go for a bigger convention which has more to offer, but keep in mind bigger cons means bigger wait times so that has to be a factor when you make your choice.

You also want to look at reviews for previous conventions.   Conventions usually have a wide range of reviews so you want to focus on what the writer considers the conventions strengths and problem areas.  These events are expensive so you really want to pay close attention to this step to avoid going to a convention that costs a lot of money and does not provide you with the experience you were hoping for.

That’s a lot of people, this convention had roughly 20,000 attendees

And there you have it.  To really decide on a convention to go to you need to consider the expenses on going to the location, the type of convention you want to go to, the kind of crowds you want to deal with and if possible do some homework so you know if the convention has a history of problems that you would rather avoid.

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