It is July and con season is well underway! With San Diego Comic Con this week, it certainly captures the preeminent spot during the convention season. However for us geeks who also happen to be Trekkies (of which the overlap is great!), we know that Creation’s Las Vegas convention at the start of August and ReedPop’s Mission New York convention in September will be the defining moments for us, especially in Star Trek’s 50th anniversary year!
With that in mind, Trek News has decided to assemble what it hopes will be a yearly tradition: “Our Official Guide to Surviving and Enjoying a Convention”. While this list is by no means exhaustive, we hope that this reference will be your handy guide each and every year to help you make the most out of any “big” geek, science-fiction, comic, and of course Star Trek convention!
1. Preparation is Key
Whether it’s a long multi-day convention or just a day-long convention, preparation is key. This typically means the following:
- Set a Budget: It will be very enticing to buy up all cool, shiny things offered in a vendor’s room. But if you set a budget, it will help you plan out which items you REALLY want to have versus something that’s more of an impulse buy. Setting a budget will also help you pace yourself financially over the course of a convention, especially multi-day ones. Remember the best sales are done on the last day in the vendor’s room! The best way to set and sticking to a budget is using a strict cash allotment or a pre-paid AMEX or VISA gift card. This gives you a hard limit, while also preventing you from going over budget by going to an ATM. (Also some vendors might not take credit cards, so having cash is always a good option!)
- Set an Agenda: It is literally impossible to see every panel, every celebrity, and every event. Not pacing yourself is the quickest way to “burning out” at a convention. Although final convention schedules are usually always in flux (with last minute additions and cancellations), it’s always a good idea to check out the schedule beforehand and prioritize which events to go to. Have 1 or 2 “must-see” venues, panels, or celebrities and leave the rest of your day to wandering and taking in the multitude of sights and sounds of the con. Your body and stress levels will thank you later.
- Food: Food inside a convention venue will typically be a two-fer: not only will it usually be terrible for you, it will also be incredibly expensive. Sometimes you have no choice but to buy food there, but if you plan ahead and bring snacks and food with you, it will go a long way towards helping you eat better and spend less.
- Convention Bag: You’ll most likely not go back to your hotel room in the middle of the day, so brining a “con bag” is essential. Make sure to stock with a con schedule, refillable water bottle, the aforementioned snacks, hand sanitizer, any medication you might need (Tylenol or Aleve are life savers!), a backup phone battery / charger, and an extra pair of socks. Dry feet can do wonders for your happiness level, especially at long conventions!
- Layering: Temperatures can vary tremendously from being insufferably warm inside a hall with thousands of other con-goers to incredibly chilly in the evenings. So learn how to layer! Long-sleeved T-shirts and zip-up sweatshirts are ideal for any con-goer.
Cosplaying has always been a part of convention culture and cosplaying is now bigger than ever with the popularity of cons worldwide.
- Screen Accuracy vs. Comfort: As a Trek cosplayer myself, I know sometimes it’s hard to resist the urge to be as “screen accurate” to your favorite hero or character. But often times that level of screen accuracy comes at a cost of comfort. Things are usually hotter, more cramped, and just plain uncomfortable when we try to get everything right down to the last detail. Swapping out something more comfortable, but “less” screen-accurate” or even doing something that is a nod or homage to a character is just as much cosplay as anything else.
- Cosplay Is Not Consent: These types of signs are becoming more commonplace around conventions and that’s unequivocally a great thing. The phrase: “A picture is worth a thousand words” applies here, so we’ll just use this image.
Long-time convention veteran and DragonCon organizer Sue K. (@spaltor on Twitter) offers this crucial piece about “6/2/1”, especially when you’re around so many people at a convention and there’s so many things vying for your attention.
6/2/1 is “In any 24 hour period, you should have at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, 2 full meals, and 1 shower. Addendum 1: Many experienced con-goers can operate on 4/2/1 or even 3/2/1, but 6/2/1 is highly recommended. Addendum 2: Febreeze is not a shower. An extra coating of deodorant is not a shower. Wet Ones are not a shower. Axe Body Spray is not a shower. Take a shower with soap and water.” The morale of the story? Take time to take care of yourself, physically and mentally. It’s considerate to yourself and others and your experience will be that much more enjoyable!
So there you have it! With these tips, you’ll be ready to get your Trek on (or any other geeky passion of yours) without draining yourself and getting the most out of it! Be sure to let us know in the comments your own personal tips and recommendations for surviving con season!
Here’s a list of upcoming Star Trek conventions.