I am so happy to say that convention season is starting up once again. It has been so long since the last convention but there are a few hard-earned lessons I have had to learn from previous conventions that I have not forgotten. I have decided to share them as Convention Survival Tips. These are not your standard tips, while this list includes them, there are some unusual ones too.
I decided to put this first on the list, because it is an important tip but also because I feel this is probably the most unusual tip for this list. If you are like me, air cons give you grief and lots of people, heat, stale air, and changing of light settings will induce a migraine. There are two sets of medications I never go to a convention without, and those are headache and sinus medication. Now, these are specific to me – I will admit, general headache medicine is probably a good idea to take – but be sure to pack what you, yourself, will need for that day – and no more. Do not give your medication to strangers. You know what you can take, but you do not know what they can take. I AM NOT GIVING MEDICAL ADVICE – I am providing anecdotal suggestions. Listen to your medical providers and, if you are worried, consult them before attending a convention.
Take what you know you will need or what you will likely need – you know your body. Decanter the day’s dose. Pack your medication in a secure, easy-to-access place for yourself to get to should you need it. I personally keep mine in a secure zip section inside my convention bag.
2. A mini-first-aid kit
Plasters, a couple of cotton balls and a small sanitiser (like Dettol or Savlon) should be enough to get you through blisters, rubbed-raw skin (from shoes) or a paper cut – if it is more than what a plaster or cotton ball can handle – seek the medical team. They are around for a reason.
3. Hydration to prevent dehydration
Keeping hydrated should be a daily occurrence, however, at a convention, you should always have a bottle of water on hand. Some conventions happen outdoors where you are often exposed to the elements and this includes the baking heat of the sun. Others can be hosted indoors but this doesn’t always mean it is well ventilated or air-conditioned.
It is really easy to become dehydrated at a convention. This can lead to you being dizzy or lightheaded and feeling tired. It can also cause headaches and nausea. When you are dehydrated your mood, energy levels, and cognitive function are all also negatively affected.
Make sure to contact the convention to see if you can bring your own water, otherwise make sure to get a bottle of water as your first move upon entering the con or take an empty bottle with you. You can always top the water up throughout the day.
WATER is VITAL.
But if you are not a fan of water, you can also drink coffee, milk, tea, sports drinks (but not energy drinks like Red Bull, Dragon, Play etc), or even coconut water. But still, drinking water is a good idea – just don’t overhydrate yourself. Basically, drink when you are thirsty.
If you did not get enough hydration during the previous day, drink something to boost those electrolytes. I personally enjoy an Energade if I am feeling sluggish due to dehydration.
PS – when I was severely dehydrated and in the hospital because of it, with a drip and all (heat stroke and severe gastro combined) – my doctor told me to drink an Energade (it’s what they had in the vending machines) or something with electrolytes to help my body rehydrate sooner as water on its own would not be enough should I find myself dehydrated again. Since I do not want to end up in the hospital for dehydration again, I remember and live by this advice. The electrolytes help your body to become hydrated quicker than by just drinking water.
4. Food and snackies
Budget in food costs for each day you are at the convention. Always make it a high budget. Food is always more expensive at conventions than you expect. Plus, since you are walking – a lot – you need food for energy. Plus conventions are long days, it sucks to be hungry.
If you do not have the funds (or don’t want) to buy food at the convention every day, take food that you can keep in the car. Pack a bento (I have been waiting to use the word for so long!) You can always go out to the car and eat your lunch there. Then head back into the convention. Just a heads up, arrive early if you want a good parking spot. You can even discuss it with your friends at the convention and make a picnic out of it.
Even if they search bags and confiscate food and snacks – sneak in at least one protein or energy bar per day (pockets exist). Energy dips and crashes are normal when you are spending the day walking around and being more active than normal. Having a snack on hand is a good way to boost your energy levels between your meals. So perhaps take two snacks with you.
I would advise against crisps or anything with loud crinkly bags – they are hard to sneak in if you need to sneak a snack. Perhaps move them into different packaging. If the convention is confiscating snacks and food, just go put them in your car, otherwise, you really won’t see them again. Or just eat it outside of the convention and then go in.
5. Comfort wear at a geek convention
Clearly cosplayers are at a disadvantage here. However, these are still points to consider when planning out and choosing their cosplays for the convention. I say this with love and the best of intentions.
Underwear is a weird point to bring up, I’ll admit. It is just that most people tend not to think about it and overlook it. Pick something that is comfortable to wear and fits well. Try to avoid anything that is going to cut into you, ride up, fall down or potentially cause a rash (I am looking at you, lace trimmings). Also, ladies, consider your bras, you don’t want to be stabbed by that protruding bone all day. Conventions are long, full days and you really do not want to spend the day constantly having to rearrange and adjust yourself.
Consider the venue, the weather and the number of people in attendance. Will you be inside, will you be outside, or will it be both? Wear something that will be forgiving for the conditions you will be going into. Pick fabric and cuts that will let your skin breathe, that will let you lift your arms. Pick pants that you can sit on the floor with and that you can get back up again without concerns of tearing. In mine and many other convention goers’ experiences – there are rarely ever enough chairs. Finding yourself sitting on the floor at some point is a good possibility. Remember weather and temperature are still factors to consider when picking your clothes.
Yes looking good is fun but don’t ruin your day over an outfit. You can still look good, have fun and be comfortable. Overall, just pick clothing you can comfortably move in.
If you are attending multiple days of a convention, pay a lot of attention to what you will be wearing on your feet. If you are attending a geeky convention or expo, you will be hitting a high number of steps per day and killing your feet on day one because of bad shoe choices sucks.
My tip, support is vital and key to not wrecking your feet. You can buy insoles for most shoe types which will make your shoes more comfortable to wear and provide a little extra bit of support. Some insoles can also help relieve the pressure on your knees.
Otherwise, wear shoes that will actually provide you with support (or bring a pair of shoes to change into when your feet need a break). Walking shoes are your best bet, they are made for mileage.
For those insisting on wearing heels, try to pick a pair that have a wider and shorter heel and please invest in an insole for them.
For my fellows who enjoy a good flip-flop or sandals with a thong between the toes, bring a spare pair of shoes. Thongs give way and break often at conventions or they rub between the toes and putting a plaster on does not help with that, nor will putting a plaster around the thong.
Do not underestimate the amount of walking to be done at a convention.
My last say on shoes or rather nagging, pleading and advice is, do not wear new shoes to a convention. A convention is not the place to break in new shoes and is just asking for pain and discomfort.
Overall, taking into consideration the above tips they are what I have learnt and what I personally keep in mind when I am preparing for and going to a convention. I hope you will have a great time at your convention.