As comic conventions are growing in popularity, the list of potential problems that could befall you while at one is, too. These events are blissfully overwhelming, and even the most zealous of nerds can benefit from some advice for their first con. Here are 10 tips from a con vet to make your experience the best it can be.
1 Wear comfortable shoes.
This seems like a no-brainer, but seriously, the amount of walking you'll do scoping out the vendors can do a serious number on your feet, and your stamina, if you're sporting your they're-too-tight-and-give-me-blisters-but-they're-soooooo-cute kicks. This is the perfect time to bust out those hideous yet heavenly comfortable New Balances Grammy got you for your birthday.
2 Learn to love lines.
If you're expecting to see a high-profile panel, carve out at least a couple of hours of your day to wait in line. At massive events like San Diego CC, you should seriously consider camping out for really popular (i.e. Hall H) panels.
3 Make sure you're in the right line.
There are usually about 3 gazillion different lines in the Expo Hall of a con that criss-cross, round corners and go up or down flights of stairs. It's ridiculously easy to end up in the wrong one, and it's really disappointing (and maybe even a tad embarrassing) when you realize you spent your entire morning in line to purchase Hello Kitty collectibles instead of to score an autograph from Stan Lee.
We nerds are notorious for being antisocial, but this is the time to free your inhibitions and score a bunch of new besties. The greatest thing about a convention is that you're surrounded by people who share the same passions as you, and what's more exciting than that?
5 Don't be a jerk.
On the flip side of No. 4, you need to remember that everyone at a convention is probably just as passionate as you, which means you're not the biggest fan, even when you think you are. Don't act entitled and, for the love of Odin, don't whine about how long the lines are or the fact that your favorite actor wouldn't stop for a selfie — con karma just might come back to bite you.
6 Naps are your friend.
If you're planning on attending every day of a convention you need your rest. You'll be so hyped up on adrenaline the first few days that you'll think you don't need to sleep; trust me, you do. You'll likely have a lot of late nights and early mornings, so sneak back to your hotel between events and slip in a power nap. Just make sure to set your alarm at the highest volume; take it from me, there is nothing more heartbreaking than waking up to find that you've slept through a "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" sing-along and a dance party at Nerd HQ because you didn't hear your alarm.
7 Bring a charger inside the con.
C'mon, we know you'll be constantly refreshing Twitter to see what your favorite celebs-in-attendance are up to. Plus, you'll probably want to take a pic of every cool cosplayer you see, which means your iPhone 4 will be dead quicker than a beloved Joss Whedon character. Invest in a portable battery pack, or at least bring a charger so you can attempt to find an outlet in your downtime.
8 Pack some snacks.
Food at cons is almost always overpriced, not too tasty and all around not worth waiting in line for forever. Smuggle in some goodies, because a grumbly tummy and a woozy head are not ideal for getting every ounce of fun out of the weekend.
9 Do your research.
To get the most out of your con, you need to know what all it has to offer. Check the official website for the lineup and form your game plan for the weekend in advance. It will seem like the end of the world when you realize you must sacrifice attending one event for another that is equally awesome; the longer you have to think about which panels you'd like to make priorities, the happier you'll be with your final decisions.
10 Have fun!
Conventions can be pretty stressful, especially for anyone with above-average levels of anxiety, but remember why you're there: to have the experience of a lifetime. Don't let little stressors get to you, and try to make the most of every second.