So, you're interested in going to a con but don't know what to do? Never fear, the Internet is here! Really, it's your greatest resource.
- Look up the con's website. All the information that you need for the com itself will be here, from registration information to recommendations for hotels and often even restaurants.
- Go onto the forums. A lot of questions are answered there and you can also read the feedback from former years.
- Learn what the con has in terms of programming and events, aka what can you do there?
- Figure out for yourself what you are looking for in a con. This is actually really important because depending on your interests you may not even need to buy a pass, as bad as that sounds. Let me go into this further. Depending on the con there are many things that you can do. Autographs, shopping, cosplay and photography, panels, screening rooms, gaming, board games, LARP, food. If all you want to do at a con is take photos or show off your cosplay then you may very well not need to buy a pass. Most photo shoots take place outside or in vestibules in areas that don't need a pass. This could be the option for you if the con you want to go to sells out. For everything else you will need a badge for sure. Usually badges are sold for single days or for the whole weekend/week/however many days the con runs. If all you want to do is shop then you may want to only purchase a day pass.
- Schedule your day. Most cons will post their program schedule a few days in advance. Check it out, print it if you can. Find the floor plan for the venue as well. Go through it and find the events or panels or screenings that you want to see most of all and write them down. Check how close the rooms or venues are to each other and how long it would take to get from one to another. You may end up skipping something because it's too far away. Depending on the con you may need to give yourself time to stand in line, especially for autographs. Remember to leave time for eating and going to the bathroom.
- Plan where you will stay. Will you be sleeping at home and commuting or driving in? Will you stay with a friend? Will you splurge on a hotel, either alone or with a group? If you want to stay at a hotel look around at what is available. Check the discounted prices on the con website. Compare to other hotels around, they may be cheaper than the official ones. See if there are any places a street down. Depending on your budget you may be able to choose comfort over price or you may want to look further out and see if there are any places just a bit of a walk away.
- Plan your route with care. If you are taking transit then look at how often the buses or subways run, check when the first and last ones pass through. If you are driving check for parking spaces. See if you may want to bike in.
If this is your first time going to a con all of this may take an hour, perhaps even more but it is so worth it. So much of the stress that comes with cons can be alleviated just by being prepared and the best thing is, you can find all this out in one place. Remember, cons are for having fun and the less you have to figure out during the con, the more fun you will have.