Convention season is here and there’s no better time to prepare for the wild ride that is a con. Whether your fandom is gaming, cosplay, comics, or tech, there’s a con for every possible nerdy subculture. 

But before you dash off to your first convention, there are a few things to keep in mind so you can stay safe, live your best life and have an amazing time. You must learn to walk before you run, young grasshopper.

Step 1: Pick your poison

The first thing to do is decide which event you’re going to attend. There are so many choices out there, it can be a wee bit intimidating. If you love the concept but are anxious around huge crowds, it might be a good idea to opt for a smaller gathering for your first time.

Planning is important when preparing for your first con. Take a look at what events are happening, what attractions each of them offers, the price, and the location. It’s smart to find something in your budget and not too far away. You need to save your money for the fun when you arrive!

Gather a cool group of friends that share your same interests and see what they think too. It’s always more enjoyable to attend a con with your buds. (Just think, you can walk around like a slick geek gang — not to mention having friends to take your picture.)

Step 2: Costume

Oh my gosh, this is the best part. If you’re a hardcore fan of a highly costumed fandom, this is your time to shine. Get all of your gear together and grab your makeup bag because this is where you get to show off all of your hard work. 

If you’re not into dressing up, the word to focus on here is “comfort”. You’re going to be surrounded by like-minded nerds and no one is judging. Cons of any size involve tons of walking, a lot of standing, and very long days. You wanna get your money’s worth, right? 

If you’re dressing up, we hope your costume is comfy, but if you’re not planning to don your favorite character’s accessories, make sure you wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes that won’t make you start plotting how to murder your friends.

It’s a good idea to take a peek at the weather forecast before you go (even though it’s hardly ever accurate) to get an idea if the weather is going to be a factor for your stunning ensemble. Can your costume accommodate a backpack? This is important because…

Step 3: What to bring (in your bag of holding)

You’re going to need a medium-sized and comfortable (the word of the day) backpack that you can take with you every day of the con. In your backpack, we recommend bringing: the following necessities:

  • Your phone, charger, and an extra battery pack
  • A mini first-aid kit of chapstick, hand sanitizer, bandaids, and tissues
  • A sharpie for any autograph opportunities
  • An extra collapsible bag to fill with all the goodies you buy and free giveaways
  • A reusable water bottle to fill up throughout the day (stay hydrated!)
  • Snacks. You’re going to get hungry and then hangry otherwise. Keep up your energy!
  • Rubber bands for posters and a folder to protect your signed photographs
  • Money. Merch is the name of the game and chances are, you’re gonna want all of it.

There’s also going to be a lot of waiting. I mean, a lot. You’ll wait in line to get in each day, to get into your favorite events, to get your forehead signed by the hero of your particular nerd-dom. 

Having some snacks and something to keep you busy during the inevitable downtime is priceless. You can expect to have wi-fi at these types of functions so you can play games on your phone and show off your amazing experiences on social media. The good news for comic nerds is that you can also enjoy these amazing Marvel-themed slots for free at an online casino of your choice (and make some money too!) while you wait.

Step 4: What to expect

Every day of the convention is going to be a little different so it’s worth knowing what to expect before you arrive.

Thursday: This is your planning day. Things usually get a late start after exhibitors get set up and everyone starts arriving. There may only be a handful of events in the evening this day. If you’re allowed in early, it’s a great opportunity to scope things out and make a mental plan for the must-see attractions over the weekend.

Friday: Panels and events will start today and you’ll have plenty of options to keep you occupied. It’s a bit quieter than the weekend days but will ease you into things a bit.

Saturday: Saturday is where the action is. All of the biggest names and most sought-after events will happen today. This means it will be an absolute madhouse. With all the crowds and a massive lineup of activities, this is the day to wear your most comfortable attire.

Sunday: Oh no, it’s almost over! The last day is usually when cons let in the younger crowd for a designated “kids day” so be prepared. It’s also when the exhibitors are slashing prices and trying to get rid of their goods so if you’ve had your eye on something, this is the time to snatch it up.

Relax and let your nerd flag fly

With a good plan, a general timetable, a sensible budget, and some childlike wonder, you’re going to have the time of your life. Just remember to be friendly, patient, and pace yourself throughout the event. It’s a marathon, not a race.

Cons are an unforgettable experience and you’ll have your own crazy stories by the end of it. Soak as much in and enjoy yourself! And before you know it, you’ll be home planning your next convention trip.