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How to be Convention Ready!

How to Survive Your First Convention

Three of My Convention Badges 

Conventions. Amazing events where people of all different likings, hobbies, and fandoms can come together (usually in costume) and swap pictures, buy items, and see other cosplays. Specifically, this article will talk about how to survive a fandomized (anime, tv show, cosplay) convention. Conventions are meant to be fun, exciting, stress-free times for people to be with others who share their interests. Well, this is what the convention wants us to feel, while in all actuality conventions usually end up being relatively stressful. However, this does not need to be the case, I have interviewed several fellow conventioneers, my cosplayer friends, as well as collecting information from my previous experiences, in order to give you "How to be Convention Ready: Rules and Advice." 

1. Always bring water and snacks.

Conventions are giant money opportunities for the sellers there. So EVERYTHING at convention (yes even water) is expensive. At my first convention, I disregarded this and did not think to add food and drinks to my budget for the convention. At conventions, water can cost upwards of three dollars. Why so much? Because water is something EVERYONE at the convention will want. You may say "Oh, I won't get that thirsty." These are lies. Convention centers will be full of people, people release body heat, convention centers get hot, and you will get thirsty, especially if you are wearing a cosplay! So definitely bring water bottles from home. Then there is the detail of food prices, otherwise known as the budget-killer. Hunger is an evil thing that will hit you like a sack of bricks when you least expect it to. Then you will have two options: get food in the convention center (Average price of $12.00 per tiny portioned meal) or leave the convention center to get food. Now, the thing is, most conventions provide food to buy that is related to the convention, such as, anime conventions will most likely sell Japanese street foods. So by leaving the convention to get food, you may miss out on these types of particular foody opportunities. So I would recommend bringing some small snacks from home to eat when you get the munchies, and when it comes to buying meals, add a "meals" category in your budget, adding more if you wish to eat in the convention center, and less if you are leaving the center to get food. 

2. Wear comfy shoes.

Conventions can be huge, and you will most likely be walking EVERYWHERE. So trust me when I say you are going to be DYING if you do not wear comfy shoes. This is such a fact that cosplayers usually will even either bring comfy shoes to wear when taking a break or even build comfy shoes into their cosplays. So definitely either wear comfy shoes or bring some to wear later. 

3. Respect others.

Just remember that some cosplays are maybe like $400 of pure hard work and struggle. So after putting so much effort and money into cosplays, we as spectators should be respectful. One of my friends who cosplays frequently said, "If you ask while they're fully dressed, they might agree to a photo. But DON'T (someone did this to me at Summer Sac Anime) ask for a picture when they're sitting down, taking a break, or EATING (especially). They'll most likely be back eventually and ready for photos soon. Catch them then." This is a very good point. Everyone needs breaks, especially if the cosplayer wears a mask or an easy humid or heated costume, so if they are in the middle of their break, just leave them alone. Also, if taking photos of cosplayers, ask permission. No sneak photos. Cosplayers are people, not just objects. Cosplay doesn't mean consent. Would you like it if someone just randomly took a picture of you and kept it or put it on the internet without your permission or acknowledgment? No. So don't. Also, if they have kids with them don’t ask them to remove their own kids from a photo. This is just plain rude. Parents who cosplay probably are already having a hard time keeping their kids near them for the convention. If you ask them to get their kids away out of a photo, it is rude and necessary. Finally, photos sometimes turn out unflattering — don’t share them if that’s the case and likewise if any turn out to contain wardrobe malfunctions — delete them. In short, just don't be a "insert cuss word of choice here."

4. Bring a backpack.

And when I say this, I don't just mean a bag like a purse. No. I mean a backpack. You are going to want a backpack in order to hold all of your items you will probably buy, as well as your wallet, and any food or drinks you may bring. Now, you may be wondering why I said no purses, messenger bags, etc. Just backpacks. Well, that is simple. You are going to want something you can just wear on your back, and be able to use both of your hands. As well as, convention halls are usually quite crowded, so having a bag on your shoulder may cause it to fall off and hit someone, or even you to drop something and it to get stolen, which I can say from experience is not fun whatsoever. 

5. Make a budget.

Like I said in number 1, conventions are a giant money making opportunity for sellers. So items are going to be expensive, like ten dollars for a keychain expensive. However, it is almost as if a magical "don't care about the price" spell comes over you as you enter the vendor hall. You will see stuff you like, and you will see stuff that you have to have, and no matter if the price is obviously too much for that item, you will buy it. So its best to be prepared for this type of scenario. Budgets can range from $60 to $400, depending on how much money you have and are willing to spend. I personally make minimum wage, so just paying the $50 for the ticket is expensive for me. However, I also know that at the convention there are tons of things I will want to buy, so I generally bring an extra $100-150. This includes what I estimate to be $30 for food. So the total including the $50 for a full weekend pass, comes out to a grand total of $200. However, there are many ways to make an affordable convention trip. Such as, I usually go all weekend, and end up getting a weekend pass which is about $50. However, you can always go only one day of the con, which can be cheaper. I have known most conventions to be like this: Friday= cheap ticket day, Saturday= most expensive Ticket day, Sunday= Most cheap ticket day. Most cons I have seen Friday and Sunday cost $30, while Saturday costs $45. So the cost for the full weekend is a very good deal, but $50 is still quite a bit of money, and when you still need to buy stuff and get food, the prices add up. However, cheap cons are possible. In fact, one of my friends is a college student saving up to move out, so when she wanted to go to her con, she made a good budget pan which you a might like. She says, "it's hard but possible. It is all about compromise, giving up some experiences in order to save some money or to make it cheap enough to do at all. What I do costs about $55. $30 for the ticket, you can either go Friday or Sunday. I personally go Sunday. $5 for food, I usually go to McDonald's or a gas station, or you can not spend money for food and bring your own from home. Then finally $20 for a mystery box from a vendor. Mystery boxes are like little miracles for a cost-effective con. Vendors usually offer mystery boxes ranging from $5 to $50. Each box contains several mystery items from the seller, from keychains to plushies. It is a really cool option for people on a budget who also want some cool items from the vendors." 

6. Bring a portable charger.

Okay, cellphones, DSI's, electronics, all are important and will most likely run out of battery. It is important to have a portable charger to charge these items, most importantly being a charger for your cell phone. A con, just like anywhere else, is full of different possible things that can happen. So it's good to have your phone at all times just in case. 

7. Check out the venue.

If you are cosplaying, this rule is especially important. Cosplays can have many things from weapons to different clothing styles. However, some venues and convention centers can have certain restrictions on cosplays, such as no real weapons, no weapons at all, acceptable attire (no cleavage, stomach showing, short shorts, etc.), and many other different things. So it is always good to check beforehand what the venue restrictions are. 

8. Respect the con rules.

Con rules are usually posted clearly in sight for you to see. There is a reason this is the case because usually, con rules are made for the safety of everyone involved. So it is best to just have a good time, stay safe, and follow the rules. This also applies to the volunteers at the con. They are all volunteering their time and effort to make this con fun for everyone involved, and although waiting in line or them doing something wrong may be annoying for us, you need to understand they are human, and we all make mistakes. Yet, they are serving us to make our experience at the convention better, so we should respect them and the jobs they are doing. 

9. For god's sake, wear deodorant.

Okay. This is something I can't even believe I have to say. The convention centers get hot, there are a lot of people, and especially if you are wearing a cosplay, you are going to sweat. So if you know you are going to sweat... WEAR DEODORANT! Even if you aren't wearing a cosplay, or say, "Eh, I will only be there for a bit." No. WEAR DEODORANT. Nothing is worse than going to a convention and being surrounded by not only sweaty people but also stinky, sweaty people. It's just a courteous thing to do. Be humble! 

10. Have fun!!

Okay, this is probably obvious advice. But it is true! Have fun! Conventions are some of the most fun events to go to in the world. Here you are surrounded by people of your same interests, and you can make many quality friends. The rules for these things are simple: be nice, have a plan, and have fun. Conventions are an open place for fun and being you. But do understand, cosplay does not mean consent. Ask for a picture, don't just take one. Treat people how people should be treated. Just because a person is cosplaying as a character with cleavage does not mean you can touch their cleavage in any way or say mean things because of it. Just because a person has a different body shape than the actual character does not mean you can make fun of them. Cons are for fun, a place people can come an be open about themselves and their likes, so don't be the *insert cuss word here* that treats everyone badly.

Okay, I think this is a good list for beginner conventioners to follow in order to be successful in their first con. Have fun and enjoy the con!

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