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The very first convention that I ever attended was the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con in 2013. The event was larger than almost anyone was expecting. I wasn’t the only person who felt a little unprepared.

With Salt Lake Comic Con coming up this weekend, I thought I would take a moment and share some tips that I have learned over the past couple years to help make the experience a little more enjoyable.

First of all, as soon as you have decided that you are going to a con, you need to decide why you are going. Are you going to the panels? Are there celebrities that you hope to meet? Will you be cosplaying? Is the vendor floor calling out to you? What about the gaming floor? Do you have kids coming with you?

The more you know the reasons for going to the con, the easier it will be to plan what you will be doing there.

Every con worth anything will have a website with a list of events, guests, panels, and other noteworthy activities. I highly recommend that you take some time to go over all of this information long before you step onto the Con floor. (You can check out the schedule for Salt Lake Comic Con here.)

For me, I would compile a list of things that I would like to see and do. I write down anything that catches my interest, even if there is already something scheduled in that time period.

Some cons have an app that will help with the scheduling of events. Salt Lake Comic Con has an app, I highly recommend using that app to build your schedule. (The Salt Lake Comic Con 2017 Mobile App is available in the iTunes Store and Google Play Store.)

Getting autographs and photo ops can take up a big chunk of your day. Read all of the information about these events on the con’s website to know how and where those events will take place. One of the best things to know about autographs and photo ops is when it would be ideal to line up. Too early means you have waited in line for longer than needed. Too late and the line is long in front of you and moves slow. At some events being late also means you run the risk of missing out entirely.

When attending a con in cosplay, it’s always best to have a wingman. The two of you can cosplay together. It’s always best to have someone who is going to be with you for the entire event who will be able to help you out. Getting the costume on is easier with help. Also, they will be there to assist you when you need bathroom/food breaks. But most importantly, they will be there to make sure that everything looks right when someone asks to take a picture with you. I would also recommend bringing a change of clothes, just in case.

If you were planning on bringing children, depending on their age, I would plan around them. I have two children, and when they are old enough I plan on taking them to Comic Con. However, I don’t plan on taking them all day for all three days. I will probably plan on going to Kid Con (Salt Lake Comic Con’s kid area) for a couple hours on a Thursday or a Friday. That will leave the other two days for me to experience the con without them. As they get older, I would then start to take them to some of the panels or other events. I don’t think that I will take them to all three days of the con until they are closer to their pre-teen years.

When it comes to children, everyone will be different. But I don’t want to be the person who brings a bored and obnoxious child into a panel. And yes, my children can be obnoxious.

Food. Lets talk about food. Almost every convention has a food court. From what I have seen, the food at cons is usually reasonably priced ranging from $5 to $10 for an average meal. Also, most cons will allow you to bring some food in; however, it’s always best to find out the details about outside food and drink before you get there.

And then there is money. With all of the unique and fun things that you can find at a con, it is far too easy to spend a lot of money.

I always decide how much money I am going to spend before going to the con. Another thing I always do is, walk the entire vendor floor before making a purchase*. This way, I don’t spend all of my money and later find something that I couldn’t live without. Sometimes, if you wait to buy things at the end of the con as the vendors are getting ready to pack things up, sometimes they will give you a slight discount. DON’T EVER BULLY A VENDOR INTO GIVING YOU A DISCOUNT!

*There are exceptions to my walk the entire floor rule. If there are con-exclusive items or things that I know will be popular that I want, then I will buy them early on.

Last I will give you a short list of things that I have found to be essential to bring to a con;

  • Comfortable Shoes!
  • Backpack
  • Schedule of Events
  • Refillable Water Bottle
  • Note Pad
  • Pen
  • Cell Phone
  • Phone Charger
  • Food (If allowed by the Convention)
  • Snacks (You can never go wrong with something to tide you over)

Lastly, there are artists and authors at the cons who will happily sign their work if you already own it. Check the convention rules on this before bringing anything to the convention.

Above all else, expect things to change. The best-laid plans often don’t pan out. A good day quickly turns bad when you try to force your schedule into place when something just isn’t working. Be flexible and you will have more fun.

Was there anything that I missed? Please let me know in the comments. Also, what are you most excited to do at SLCC this year?

See you at the Con!

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About The Author

Nathan is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author. He studied physics and chemistry in school. Father, husband and owned by a Pug.

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