Only 49 days (48 for me cause I start on Wednesday now) till Dragon Con 2022! I got to say that I'm really excited about going. Though, for me that's every year. I talk about Dragon Con all year long to people and as the days get closer, like now, I begin to talk more and more about the con, until it gets to the point it's all I talk about. One of the first things I always ask people that I haven't talked to about it is, have you ever been to Dragon Con? If their answer is no, then I explain why it's so great, so different then all other conventions, and then I try to tell them when they go to be prepared. Which is what I want to do here, give a list of helpful tips. I've done it in the past but it's always good to have it right there where you don't have to search for it. If you are going for the first time to Dragon Con or it's been awhile since the last time, here are important tips to have.
1) Drink a lot of water! This I can’t stress enough. It’s in September people, it’s HOT outside, and you will get hot. There are thousands of people crating a lot of mass body heat on top of the natural heat, you will need water to stay hydrated. Water will keep you feeling good and able to enjoy the convention.
2) Eat also. Along with water you need food. Take small snacks like crackers, poptarts, energy bars, cereal bars, and other such small items that can fit in pockets and bags while not weighing much. Having these will make you feel better when you start to get hungry and believe me, you will. It will also save you money. It’s much cheaper to buy a box of cereal bars at a store than having to buy a burger at a restaurant.
3) Take meds. What I mean by meds are the simple things like Tylenol, aspirin, Pepto, and other such items to keep you feeling good. I am NOT telling or condoning any use of illegal substance. What I want is to tell you that you should take the things you can buy out of any Walgreens or Walmarts or even the dollar store to help keep you at 100%. It’s easy to get a headache while in the heat or an upset stomach and if you get these items to help with these, you will spend more time at the con rather than in your john.
4) Make a list of what you want to do. Going into Dragon Con without knowing what you want to do or see is a blunder waiting to happen. There is so much going on at the con that it’s impossible to take everything in and that’s with having the full 5 days planned out to the second. Getting the times set up so you can go to the panels while then make it to flash mobs, photo ops, signings, and so many other things while also making time for friends, food, sleep, and showers can be a daunting task. Without a plan of what you want to do, then all you will end up doing is a little of what you want while rushing around to do just that.
5) Shower, wear clean clothes and comfy shoes. This might sound crazy but it’s not. There are a lot of people at the con wearing costumes that can be so hot that they need cooling systems and we are all walking around in the heat. If you don’t shower for even one day, you will stink by the middle of the day and we will smell you. This is commonly known as the con funk and you don’t want to be that person.
6) Sleep when you can and as much as you can. This one is a very hard one to do but it is also vital for you to do. With all that’s going on at the con I understand how easily it is to let the fun take you away to the point that you don’t get much sleep. However, you still need to get sleep while you are at the con. Take a cat nap if you have to while waiting in line or while your phone is charging, go to bed a half hour before you planned to and sleep a half hour longer, just find some moments when you can sleep so you don’t get too wore out or sick.
a. Speaking of sleeping, take spare bedding items and cleaning supplies. I don’t know about you but I will take my own pillow and a fleece blanket to use just in case I don’t feel comfy with the ones in the room. I also take disinfectant to use around the room first before I start unpacking and placing things around. I know the hotel I stay in does a good job of keeping things clean but not all hotels/motels do and I’ve been in some that are disgusting. So, if you are in one of those and you find yourself in a situation where it’s a either stay there or go home cause there’s nothing else available (which on the days of the con that will be the case), then having something you can use to help clean and to use to lay on that you are comfy with will make you stay a little bit better.
b. If you can, take also an inflatable mattress. You might think these are expensive, and if you get the big ones with the fancy tops, then yes they are. However, if you get the one that’s a single or twin that’s just the mattress that inflates, you can find them at Walmart for between $8-$20. Not only are they cheap but when it’s new it’s packed in the small box that is about the size of a laptop box for the single and fits nicely in tight places like the trunk of your overstuffed car. Remember to get the pump also, that’s usually another $8 but it’s still worth having. Again, you might find your room where you don’t want to lay on the bed but you have nowhere else to go and if you have that mattress you can at least lay it on top of the bed and sleep.
7) TAKE GEAR. Take your gear with you like extra batteries for everything that require power. Especially your cell phone. Most people today, including me the photographer, use their phones for video and photos and Dragon Con will put a major strain on the phone battery. Everywhere at every hour of every day of the con you will find something to get a photo or video of and you don’t want to be in the situation where you see the coolest cosplay or a celebrity guest sitting next to you at the lobby bar who agrees to have a selfie taken with you and then the phone dies on you. It happens, A LOT, and has happened to me too many times and to my friends. Easy way to stop this is buy an extra battery or 2 or do like I have for this year, I have 2 batteries, a USB battery charger, the plug in for the wall USB charger, and an external battery.
a. Also take things like extra memory cards for cameras but along with the tech stuff there are just the overlooked items. Such as bags. Take one of those draw string bags that you can wear on your back that don’t take any space and you can either wear without noticing or even fold to put in pocket if you don’t use. However, just have a bag because it will be so much easier for you to take photos, shake hands, and just have hands free instead of carrying around that item you bought at 9AM and it’s now 5PM.
b. Take an extra lanyard for your badge or any other badges you might get. Have extra pens, pencils, markers, and a notepad. These will come in handy to help keep track of things and you really don’t know who you might meet in the hotels or streets that might give you an autograph for free and you don’t want to be caught without a marker when the guest says yeah I’ll sign your notebook, do you have a marker, no, oh sorry I don’t have one either.
8) Sit down when you can. Take a load off whenever you can. For the most part this is done when you are in line for a panel but sometimes you might not get that chance. You will be on your feet a lot and for long periods, walking, standing, shuffling, and who knows what else and you will get wore out. If this is your first time then you don’t want to have a great first day but by day 3 your leg muscles are cramping, your feet hurt, might have blisters, and now you just can’t make it through the day. It’s easy to avoid, drink water, eat, sleep, and just sit down for 5 minutes to let the body recover some. Those are the main points to take into account when going to the con. But there is one that is also very important and shouldn’t be forgotten.
Also, be kind to everyone. Don’t laugh at anyone, be careful how you point, and remember that you might not be talking or making fun of someone, but if you stare at someone in costume while listening to your companion tell you something funny and then you laugh, it might seem to that person in costume who might see you staring then laughing that you are laughing at them. I know it’s unavoidable, people can’t hear you, they can misunderstand, and I’m not saying don’t laugh, I’m just saying be aware of your surroundings and most importantly be aware of your own actions. What you do can affect someone else’s experience even if you are not meaning to do it. Now, keep watch on my blog because I will be posting more as the days get closer to Dragon Con. I know I will have an upcoming post that will include the highlighted guests of the con and then I will put other stuff up like some panels and maybe some exclusives.