I am absolutely over the moon with excitement for the upcoming weekend.
And why you may ask? Well, two reasons actually.
First, pre-law will finally over. Pre-law is a summer school program for incoming law students. For the last month of my summer I’ve been working as a teaching assistant for the program. It’s really fulfilling, helping the incoming students and passing on the knowledge I have acquired over the past school year. But I’m looking forward to it being over and getting to sleep late and spend time in my craft room before school starts in August.
The other reason is Mechacon. Mechacon is a big local anime and gaming convention in New Orleans. This will be my first and only convention of the summer. I’m only going Saturday, though the convention will be Friday to Sunday, because I have to work Friday and I don’t want to pay for the half day Sunday. But still, I haven’t been to a convention in months so I am not complaining.
Anyway, I was getting ready for the convention and I thought about how much planning I do pre-con. Conventions can be miserable if you don’t pre-plan. Stuff like tickets, parking, food, seating, photos all affect your con experience.
- Location: I need to know where the convention is. Is there parking on site, is it covered or on the street? What is the neighborhood like, should I feel safe leaving my car and walking around, day or night? What about public transit?
- Tickets: Obviously I need to know the price of the tickets and most of the conventions I have been to offer reduced prices the earlier you buy the tickets and they are stratified as the convention date gets closer?
- Dates: Seems self-explanatory that you would look at when the convention would be held but that can affect a whole lot of other things too. What ticket you buy for example, maybe like, me you have plans for one day of the convention, so you don’t want a full pass. Or what you wear, like I wouldn’t wear a Suicide Squad Harley Quinn costume in the winter, or an Ice Climbers costume in the summer. That’s what planning is for.
- Food: What kind of dining does the convention provide and what is the upcharge for it? Are there restaurants around the convention site? What type are they, fine dining, family dining, fast food? Can I realistically bring my own food or not eat at the convention?
- Key Events and Panels: I know what categories of con activities I show up for. I like the Lolita stuff, the Steampunk stuff, the costuming tutorials, and the cosplay fashion shows. Those are the things I have to plan around. I have to organize my day around these events on the schedule but I also have to plan my outfits around it too. The day with the most Lolita events I want to wear my coordinate, but what if I’m doing the cosplay fashion show and the Lolita tea part is the same day? That’s why we pre-plan. Plus some of these events full up fast. It’s not such a big problem with the genre stuff, like Lolita fashion shows and costuming panels, but for the big ticket activities, like the Cosplay contests and the guests, I like to know where I’m supposed to be and when so I can get there early and get the best possible seat.
- Budget: Sometimes I go to conventions outside of my state and those require a little more planning. Where will I stay, by myself or with a group? Is there a discount for staying at the convention hotel or a better deal somewhere else? How will I eat every day of the convention, will I buy food and feed myself or go to restaurants all weekend?
- Transportation: Most of the conventions I go to are in my home state but transportation is still a big deal. When I’m home in Arizona, my siblings and I take the city bus to and from the convention and leave our car at a park-and-ride stop during the day. Here in Louisiana I’ve only been to one convention and it was right here in my city so I just drove. This convention is in New Orleans which is over an hour’s drive away from where I live. It makes a difference, especially to my con budget.
- Wardrobe: I’m very simple with convention wardrobe, for the most part. I tend to pick one outfit per day. That makes packing, when I have to travel, much simpler. I can put all of the pieces that go with any outfit in a ziplock bag, the big quart sized ones, and keep it all together in my bag. But also, I consider what kind of convention I’m going to when I decide on my convention wardrobe. Big conventions tend to have less restrictive dress codes, which means more daring costumes. Smaller conventions are good place to test new costumes or coordinates, there are fewer people to see and remember the outfit but you get to con-test it for durability and wearability.
- Bag: This one may seem a little weird but trust me. What bag to carry is always a serious concern. And not in an “I’m a girl, I must accessorize” kind of way either. When I’m at a convention there are a few things that I always want to carry with me, my cellphone, my makeup, my emergency sewing kit, wallet with cards and money. These can all fit in a little purse right? But what if I go to the dealer’s room? I need a bag big enough to carry anything I buy. What if I’m cosplaying and wearing Lolita in the same day? I need a bag that can hold my costume or my coordinate. What if I’m carrying my own lunch? I need a bag that can hold my food. Then there are the costume or outfit concerns, like how is this bag gonna look in pictures, will I have to put it off to the side or can I be photographed with it? Does this character carry a bag or an accessory I can make out of a bag?
- Con Buddy: The last and final, and probably the most important part of my con plan is my con buddy. My con buddy is the person I wander the convention with. I am a super introvert, and I don’t do big crowds but I like to have someone to experience the convention with. Sitting in panels isn’t as much fun by myself and neither is coordinating my schedule and setting timers in my phone so for big conventions, I need an equally as neurotic friend to overthink and obsess. At smaller conventions, when I can be more laid back, I like to have someone there to talk to about what I see, since I’m going to spend the majority of my time in common areas people watching.
So, there you have it. My definitive guide to pre-convention planning.
What are your pre-con rituals? What questions do you ask yourself before you head into the fray?
I would love to hear all how you plan your convention weekend. But, now I have to go make a spreadsheet of panels to attend Saturday.