It’s convention season! *tosses fandom confetti into the air* If you’re anything like me, you have been eagerly awaiting your local con for months now—and, finally, it’s here. Whether you are a convention pro or this is your first time entering the in-person fandom world, here are a few tips to get you prepped and pumped for your upcoming adventure.

1. Make sure your ticket is ready to go! Although some conventions have switched to digital tickets, many still go with good old-fashioned paper tickets. My local con supplies a printable QR code at the time of purchase. This code is then scanned at the door on the day of the convention, allowing attendees to pick up their physical badge after showing proof of ID.

2. Once you’re inside the convention, do not lose your badge. I will say this again, because it is of paramount importance. Do not lose your badge! Your badge is your lifeline at a con. Without it, you cannot attend any of the panels, nor can you remain in the convention facility! Some cons recharge you the whole price of your day’s ticket if you cannot locate your badge.

3. Keep an eye on traffic! If there is a panel you’re dying to see at 9 AM, or a signing event you must get to by 11, you want to make sure you have enough time to arrive at the facility, park your car if you’ve driven, and make it through security after you pick up your badge. You don’t want to accidentally miss out on why you are attending the convention in the first place.

4. Take note of the event schedule, as well as the con’s operating hours. This usually goes up at least a week before the first day of the con. If you’re attending with a group, make sure you all coordinate who wants to go where, and when!

5. Don’t leave your cosplay to the last minute. Even if you can throw something together the day before, you will only give yourself unnecessary stress by not planning ahead.

6. Check on the weather forecast. Are there parts of the day that you’re planning to spend outside? You don’t want to step out into unexpected rain and ruin your wig, hair, makeup, etc.!

7. Rewatch your favorite media! Whether you’re getting to meet an actor or a creator from that media, or you’re just hoping to see plenty of cosplayers dressed as your favorite character, a rewatch adds to the fun of the season.

8. If you are attending with a group, make sure that everyone exchanges numbers before splitting up. Conventions are incredible, but they are very crowded! You don’t want to separate and realize that you have no way of contacting the other half of your group—including your ride home.  

9. Stay hydrated! It can be easy to get caught up in the fandom magic of it all; don’t let your health suffer because of that. If the con you’re attending does not allow outside water bottles, be sure to snag one at a concession stand to keep with you. Stay energized, too, and stop for breaks if you are tired or hungry.

10. Last, but certainly not least…have fun! Conventions are one of the highlights of fandom life. This is the day to let your fandom flag fly, and geek out with people who care about your favorite media just as much as you do. Make new friends! Ask cosplayers if you can take a photo of them! Learn something new at a panel! Buy original artwork or nerdy merchandise! This is your day, and at the end of it, I hope your smile cannot be dimmed.