The biggest conventions are upon us in just a few short weeks and I will be attending DragonCon and Anime Weekend Atlanta, two of the biggest conventions of the southeast United States. I've been attending conventions for five years now in both Georgia and Florida from the tiny JapanCon in Kennesaw to the massive DragonCon in downtown Atlanta.
Eventbrite (they have some great tools to help you plan events like conventions) inspired a post about how I prepare for conventions. I know a lot of you have been curious about conventions as well and this is a Friday, my whatever post day, so I thought this would be a good time to share.
2+ Months Before:
1.) If you are going for the entire convention, you can get your pass months in advance and that will save you a good bit of money. A typical four day pass is around $100. Unfortunately, if you're only going for a day or two you can only get your pass that day for the set price. Day passes can range anywhere from around $20 to $50 depending on the convention.
2.) Purchase your transportation. If you are flying or bussing out to a convention (I take MegaBus to MegaCon Orlando every year), make sure to get your tickets far in advance. If I time it right I can go to Florida for $15 RT. That saves me a ton of money on gas, and I get to sleep on the trip.
3.) Start preparing your cosplay. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. If you want your cosplay to be of good quality start months in advance. I've been researching my newest cosplay since early July (which is actually later than I usually do). I made sure I had plenty of time to order pieces I need, look up make-up techniques, and give me time to do any manual work on it such as sewing, prop-making, and wig modifications.
4.) Purchase any merchandise you want signed. Sometimes you want a specific poster, figure, etc. to be signed. This is when you should browse eBay to make sure you get that special Japanese rare figure in on time.
5.) Save up your spending money. There are autographs, merchandise, artwork, and more to purchase at a convention. Putting aside a hundred bucks or two will give you the freedom of a little spending without stressing.
The Month Before:
1.) Book any photo ops. Photo op sessions with celebrities usually come out a month in advance. If you want to get any this is the time to reserve your spot.
2.) Withdraw your spending money in cash from the bank. Many merchants and autograph signings will only take cash, plus this makes you less tempted to go over budget and spend more money on your credit/debit card.
3.) Plan your morning routine. Figure how long the commute is from your hotel room/house/whatever to the convention. If you're going to be the driver go ahead and google the address so you have it for the GPS. This will help you gauge when you need to get up in the morning to put on your costume. This is also the time to gauge how long putting on your cosplay is going to take. You don't want to stress yourself out putting on elaborate make-up late and miss a panel you want to go to.
4.) Test your cosplay. Always always always test your cosplay in advance. Wear it one time fully for a little photoshoot or if you're brave to go grab a Starbucks. This will help you know what problems you've got to watch out for with your cosplay. Is something falling off? Do you need to adjust something? Do you need to change something to make it more comfortable? I wore my Fem King Graham cosplay in advance and realized my hat has a tendency to fall off and I can't feel it because of my wig, thus I have to safety pin it to my wig.
The Week Before:
1.) Plan your meals. You want to spend your hard-earned convention money on stuff you can only get there, not on meals. Save yourself some money and purchase easily transportable meals and snacks like sandwiches or sandwich supplies, nuts, beef jerky, protein bars, and apples. You do not want to waste your time waiting in line for food when you can be in line for that voice actor you've always wanted to meet.
2.) Make sure all of your tickets are printed. Some people have their tickets on their phones, but I like having hard copies because what if your phone dies? Then you're screwed!
The Night Before:
1.) Set out your cosplay. Get all of the pieces put in one place so all you have to do is grab them in the morning and not worry about looking for them.
2.) Pack your lunch. Get your lunch all ready in a small cooler or lunchbox, so you just need to get out of the fridge in the morning.
3.) Pack your items to be signed. Again you don't want to be flailing to find them in the morning.
4.) Get a backpack ready. I always bring a backpack, and this is where I put my lunch, my items to be signed, and also things like my wallet, my umbrella, portable phone charger, and cosplay emergency items like safety pins, bobby pins, and hairspray. Also make sure your tickets are in there!
The Morning Of:
After you've gotten your cosplay on, make sure you've put an ice pack in your cooler, you've got your backpack, phone, tickets, keys, and the convention address punched into your GPS. Then you're ready to have an awesome weekend of fun!
Have you ever been to a convention? If so which ones have you been to? Do you have any questions about convention prep? Do you have any points to add?
You may also like:
Realm Makers 2017 Report
MegaCon Orlando 2017 Report
Liebster Award: NYC/Philly Edition
MomoCon and Fans!
The Creative Blogger Award: MegaCon Edition