Con season is upon us. With San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) right around the corner (July 20 – 23), it may be a good time to remind ourselves of a few best practices to keep ourselves healthy and active during Con Season. With long lines, exhaustion and miles of walking (often within one day of an event), I got together with several members of the Comic Industry and created this list of Top 10 Tips to get you through any Comic and Entertainment Convention.
10. Check Times and Prioritize. Before the Con even begins make sure to check times and availability. Not all Creators and Celebrities are there throughout the entire Convention. If you have a Panel that you really want to attend but a Creator, or Celebrity, you really want to meet is only attending the Con one day and is only at their booth for 4 hours of that single day due to their own panels, and the one panel you want to see is during some of those specific booth hours… Phew! You need to make sure to prioritize! Who is important to see? Which Panels do you want to attend? What times are your tickets for the Entertainment Guests, as you are usually given periods of time and not simply a spot in line? You will more like not see everything but making plans can help you see the most.
9. Take your Books out of their Bags & Boards at LEAST 3 people ahead. Keeping your books safe, dry and flat is of the highest importance. But it is common courtesy for the line and for the creator if you have what you want signed out of its bag and board when there are no less than three people ahead of you to the front of the line. Plus, if you aren’t fidgeting with your bags and boards you have more time to talk directly with the creator.
**Additional Tip: Keep your books and art safe by carrying them in binders or expandable file folders. If you plan on putting them in bags, make sure you have a top loader to keep everything flat.
8. Bring Back-Up Batteries and Charging Cables. A good, 5 Star Rated Back-Up Charger is as cheap as $10.99 on Amazon. Buy one. Carry it. Along with an extra wall charger as a just in case. Everyone is taking pictures, Tweeting, Streaming, etc. It is exciting. But you do not want to be out of battery at the end of the day. Especially if you are in a city where the only people you know are the ones who traveled with you.
7. Bring a Bag that fits Comfortably over your Shoulders. Whether you prefer a backpack (the preferred option by most attendees) or a shoulder bag (i.e. a purse), make sure the bag has thick enough shoulder straps (minimum of one inch) that fit comfortably over your shoulder. Thin straps can, after a day’s worth of purchases or walking around with stacks of books all day, can cause serious injury.
**Additional Tip: If you are carrying your wallet in your bag, make sure it is zipped up and in a pocket, that sits along your side. If you are carrying it in a pock, wear fitted clothing as that you can feel where your wallet is at all times.
6. Bring Snacks. Grabbing an ice cream cone or a bag of popcorn while wandering around a Con is fine, that is if you are willing to spend $10 per snack. Not only is it far cheaper to bring snacks, having a small bag of nuts or those pouches of applesauce are great for extra energy.
**Additional Tip: Do not be afraid to leave the Con to get food. Grab a map of the area or speak with the Hotel Front Desk and ask about places near the Convention Hall. Find a local gas station to grab a bottle of water or support a local business by eating lunch at a nearby restaurant. It will be cheaper (for the most part) and a full meal is better for you than grabbing a $12 hotdog out of necessity. Plus, they may have cleaner bathrooms!
5. Carry A Mini-Medi-Pack. Having band-aids, ibuprofen and small ice packs never hurt anyone. Actually, it is the exact opposite! With the amount of congestion, walking and heat. A headache, blisters and dehydration are more inevitable than possible.
**Additional Tip: Bring Sunscreen. Especially at the Cons, with lines that can take over an hour to enter the Con or the many events that take place outside of the Convention Hall due to space restrictions, all the sun is doing is beating down on you. Protect yourself!
4. Wear Comfortable, Broken-In Shoes. Most lists will generally say “comfortable” shoes, but remember most “comfortable” shoes are those that you have WORN. If you get new shoes for big events like New York Comic Con (NYCC) or SDCC, walk around and break them in. You WILL be walking around for hours, even at the smallest events. You need comfortable shoes to keep you going.
3. Take a Shower. This tip is not only for common courtesy... (Because, yes!) But more so for your health. Con Crud is defined by Urban Dictionary as: “Illnesses which are spread around at… conventions due to the large numbers of people who gather and interact in one confined place.” One of the chief ways to keep yourself from getting sick following a show is washing up!
**Additional Tip: Taking an Airborne or any other Immune Supplement at the beginning of the day helps give your body a little extra wall of protection towards the evils of Con Crud.
2. BRING CASH! This seems like a no-brainer but it is surprising how many people don’t carry cash. Though most Con Exhibitors do accept Credit nowadays, the Wireless Internet, especially at the larger events, can often be spotty and Credit Systems can go down. Many Exhibitors also have Credit Minimums as systems such as Square Readers have high usage fees. Have Cash on you. As a just in case!
**Additional Tip: Bring Small Bills! There A LOT great product out there for $10 and under. Exhibitors don’t mind the easy transactions where they do not have to make change or receive small bills for change in the future. Carry $1’s, $5’s and $10’s.
1. STAY HYDRATED!!! Pay extra attention to this Tip because it is EXTRA important. Follow the example of every Celebrity at every Con Panel Ever! Keeping a bottle of water or Gatorade (for the electrolytes) on you at all times keeps you from dehydration and exhaustion. Many Conventions, even events during the Winter Months, can require long periods of time in which you are walking both inside and out. Bringing the proper liquids to keep you going can be the difference between enjoying a long day at the Con or a long day sitting at the wall on the edge of the Hall trying to catch your breath. Or worse! So… STAY HYDRATED!!!
There you have it! A few best practices so you may experience the best Con possible. There are many more tips and even more people to give them. But being prepared and keeping yourself energized is the best start. Keep Hydrated. Be aware. And Have fun!
PS: Just to make sure that the last tip REALLY sinks in. STAY HYDRATED!!!