I am a gigantic nerd and conventions are my jam. I get a lot of weird reactions from people who are not the “convention-attending’ type and ya know, to each their own, but damn it – I WANT TO BE WITH MY PEOPLE. My weird, awkward, super creative, nerdy tribe.
PLAIN AND SIMPLE: CONVENTIONS ARE A MUDDER-FLUFFIN’ BLAST!
When I got sick, I couldn’t just go all willy-nilly to conventions anymore. My immune system is finicky and being in a humongous room full of humans can kinda be not-so-shiny for me if I don’t take the right precautions. These helpful tips will help to make sure that your con-going-adventure goes as smoothly as possible and that you can have the best time of your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re attending a Con, a beauty/makeup convention, or the state fair (since it’s that time of the year, again.)
#1: KNOW YOUR LIMITS…
You are the expert of your own body since you live in it 24/7. You know what you can and can’t do. Having one or more chronic illnesses doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have fun, but it does mean that you should think about the environment that you’ll be in.
If you’re new to the convention scene here’s what you’ll need to think about and prepare for before you go. There will be: lots of walking (or wheeling) around, lots of people (especially in close quarters when you’re walking down the showroom aisles), lots of waiting if you decided to attend a panel or if you’re waiting to get an autograph/picture with your favorite celebrity, and by the end you’ll be pretty darn pooped out… except for the wonderful, all-natural convention high of awesomeness.
When you have an idea of what you’re going to expect, it’s easier to plan out your con-adventure. I realize that the previous paragraph might seem a bit daunting, but trust me – you’ll have a blast. Just remember listen to your body.
Important side note: If you do not think you can attend but feel guilty for having bought tickets, don’t! Your health is worth so much more than the cost of admission. Unfortunately, this has happened to me in the past and while it sucks – you can always find someone to either go for you or to buy your tickets… whom you can then live vicariously through.
Convention plague is not just a horror story that they tell small children… it’s real and around our house we refer to it as conSARS. Lots of people equal lots of potential germs and bugs that can make you miserable after you get home. If you have any sort of weakened immune system, like me, and plan on attending any sort of big hulla-ba-loo like a convention, you will want to make sure that you do everything you can to help beef up your immune system. Here are some handy things that have helped me in the past:
- Emergen-C Immune
- Get lots of Vitamin C things the week leading up to the convention. It’s good to eat fruits and veggies anyways. They’re delicious!
- B-12 injection or Steroid shot (I get them anyways but I always schedule it with my doctor so the effects would help me get through the various Conventions).
- A pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer and/or remember to wash your hands frequently.
I sound like a germophobe, right? Well, I’m really not – I just don’t like catching a cold and then ending up in the Hospital. It’s better to be cautious than to be ‘meh,’ right?
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical healthcare provider. These tips are based on personal experience. If you have any health-related questions, it’s best to ask your physician prior to going to the convention.
#3: TAKE BREAKS…
I will tell you straight up that at the end of the day, I am wiped out. There are so many awesome things going on and shiny things to see during the convention that I get to a point where I must…
I know that I should take breaks and after a few conventions I have gotten the hang of it, mostly. Taking breaks is key. Having a sit down and chat with some cosplayers or fandom-aficionados can be one of the coolest things. It’s great to just talk to people and hear about what they’re most excited for in the world’o’nerd. I like talking to people and doing so helps to give me a few minutes breather where I can just chill and have a nice conversation.
Who knows, you might meet some really cool folks and then become friends with them down the road. It happens… 🙂
Also, taking breaks gives you a chance to people watch. Tons of con-attendees show up in their best cosplays and lemme tell you – they are BRILLIANT! Aside from the overall geek-gasm that I get from Cons, I go so that I can admire all of the amazing builds and costumes.
Random tip #3.5: WEAR COMFORTABLE FOOTWEAR. <- for obvious reasons that are obvious.
#4: STAY HYDRATED…
All that walking around and doing things can take a lot out of you and you’ll probably do more work than you think you’re doing so be sure to stay both hydrated and nourished. Bring a water bottle or two and stash a couple of energy bars or applesauce packets in your bag and you’re set. The concession stands are normally full of your typical fair/event food: nachos, pizza, etc…and they’re generally marked up in price. If you are on a special diet, come prepared with some option that you bring from home or check the convention’s website for a list of available noms.
If you don’t want to eat at the convention you can always leave, go eat elsewhere, and come back ready for more. Some of my favorite food-excursions are when I go out dressed up in my cosplay with a few other friends or fellow cosplayers and show up to Panera all ready to add delicious noms to my inventory. And when I say inventory, I mean my stomach… om nom nom nom nom.
#5: GRAB A COMPANION…
This one is pretty important to me. If you’re going to a convention, grab an enthusiastic buddy and have an adventure together. The Doctor does better with a companion and he’s a pretty smart guy. 🙂 If you don’t have someone in your immediate area that is going, ask around in your friend circles across the various social medias. Chances are someone you know will be going. If you absolutely can’t find anyone that you know and want to go anyway, that’s perfectly fine. There are benefits to having a friend that knows you, should anything happen. If you are alone, be sure that you have easily accessible medical information on your person. I love the new-ish iPhone update with the Medical ID (which is in the Health app, that you can’t get rid of…). I also carry both a medical card in my wallet as well as have a medical bracelet on. You can never be too careful where your health is concerned.
#6: COSPLAY? YES PLEASE!…
One of the things I LOVE about conventions are the vast amount of cosplaying opportunities. In everyday life, I have to wear a mask when I go out in public so I don’t get sick. I get ridiculous reactions and I try not to let it get to me but if we’re being honest, there is still a part of me that is super self-conscious about it. When I cosplay I love it because I can incorporate my mask into the character that I choose to rock. Here’s a good example:
Last year, Tulsa was host to its first major convention: Wizard World. I really wanted to go in costume, so I did. It was last-minute and very hurriedly thrown together but in the end I thought it looked pretty awesome for what it was… I went as the Winter Soldier. I didn’t have time to finish my arm piece (something that WILL BE REMEDIED THIS YEAR! *HINT HINT*) and so I ended up using my makeup skills and painting it on. It was awesome, I had several people not realize that it was painted on… and the best part was that I got to rock my Vogmask and everyone just thought that it was part of my costume.
One of the things about cosplaying is that you can be whoever or whatever you want to be. You can mash-up multiple characters, transplant your character to a different time, flip genders, etc…
If it is your first time cosplaying and you want to make sure that your outfit will work – put it on and go walk around Walmart or Target. You’ll get a feel for how it will hold up as you walk around. Also, double-check that your outfit will work with anything you have to deal with on a daily basis – like if you have a g-tube, PICC line, etc… If you rock a wheelchair, make sure that your outfit won’t get hung up on any of the moving parts and is comfortable to sit in while you cruise around the convention floor. If you are making your cosplay to include your wheelchair, it’s a good idea to take it on a few practice runs.
Also, if you are planning on bringing any sort of accessories, or faux weapons, to deck out your cosplay make sure you look at the cosplay guidelines for the convention that you are attending.
PRO TIP: I always have a spare bag in my car in case I am exhausted and want to change out of the clothes but still want to do Convention-y things.
If you just want to hang out, sans-cosplay, that is perfectly fine as well. Sometimes coming up with a cosplay outfit is a bit insane and building it can be a lot of work, depending on who you decide to cosplay as. Throw on your favorite fandom shirt, some comfy jeans/leggings/bottoms, and shoes and WHAMM! you’re ready to take on the nerd-mecca called conventions.
There you have it. Follow these handy tips and you should be a-ok and convention ready! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments or via email. I hope you all have a kickass day!
Do you have any handy tips? Share them in the comments below.