There are now only 346 days until Dragon Con 2023!
If you are saying to yourself, wow, this guy really is getting ahead of himself for Dragon Con, then, I'm here to tell you, nope. When I say I start prepping for next years Dragon Con while at Dragon Con, I am not joking. For anyone that has not been for the whole con that lasts 5 days (I stay 6 days), then you might be thinking it's too early to think about a con a year away. It's not. There is a lot that goes into attending Dragon Con that, depending on what you are planning can take a bare minimum of a year to multiple years.
Here's a short list of some of the things you should be preparing for when planning for a future Dragon Con visit.
1) A place to stay – this is the most important thing to think about and have done as soon as possible. Yes there are many hotels in the city near the host hotels and if this is your first time staying for the whole convention, then you might not think this is as important as saving the money for the con. It is the most important thing to do first. Host hotels, Hilton Atlanta, Marriott Marquis Atlanta, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Sheraton Atlanta, and Westin Peachtree Plaza are the main hotels to stay at. They are the hotels everything is happening at and they are the party hotels. These hotels offer a Dragon Con rate that you can't get until they go on sale and they sell out fast. When I say fast I mean in seconds to minutes because there are thousands of people trying to get the same room you are. Now the hotels are not sold out of room, just sold out of the con rated rooms but that means instead of maybe $260 a night you will pay $300 a night, or more. I did say there are other hotels around but they also know what is happening and their rates can be the same. Though I have found a few hotels that are more a motel, low rate stay that is very close, 3 blocks from the host hotels, but again, they sell out fast also. Dragon Con is held at the same time each year (roughly), so as soon as the surrounding hotels open booking that far in advanced, the rooms start going fast. Now you can stay outside the city, it will be cheaper (depending on what you do), and you can take public transit MARTA, but if you want to stay late at the con, then this might not be the choice you want. Too far out means MARTA will only go out at certain times, meaning you have to be on that train car at 9pm to get back to your hotel. That means if you were looking to go to the rave in the AM hours then you are out of luck, unless you found a room to stay in or don't plan on sleeping. You could drive from the hotel to the con but you have to pay for parking and most parking is around $15-$25 a day and after 5 days, the gas and the parking can put you at spending more. Though, if you don't plan on drinking alcohol while there, then the driving, with the parking, will be a lot cheaper than a host hotel, but it does require more planning. So, in short, get a hotel first, as soon as you can, and have back up plans in case the host hotels sell out before you can get one.
1.1) Save that money – though this is listed as second it's also first in things to do. Everything costs money and you need that money to get it. Yep, that's a duh statement but there are a lot of little things that get forgotten or surprised on you once the convention is going. There are the big things, the hotel, the parking, the food, the drinks, the badge, the costumes, the autographs, the photos, the comics, and so on and so on. Start saving now or as soon as you can, but now is best time to start. Most hotels, regardless of getting host with the con rate, will require you pay one night at time of booking. Depending on the hotel and the rate you get that can easily be upwards of over $300 you will have to have right then and there to pay. Then there are all the other expenditures you will have to thank about, some I listed above, that will take that cash money. Having people stay with you in the hotel room that will split the bill will help save but it still is not a $200 trip you will be going on. The plan I use to save money is the week plan savings. There are 52 weeks in a year, for each week you save that amount of money. Week one, $1, week two, $2, week 3, $3, and so on until week 52 (or whatever week you started on the end number will be different since we are 50 weeks right now). In the first three weeks you will have saved $6 but when you get up in those double digits, like week 40 and 41, that's $81 in two weeks but if you saved all 52 weeks you will have $1,378 saved. The way I do it is a bit different though. I know some weeks I can't save $30 or $40 each week, so when it's in those early weeks, like weeks 1-10, I save as much as I can. For instance week one I will put in $20, well, that puts me ahead weeks. Then week two gets $10, and now I have $30 saved instead of just $3. It really does work, you just have to remember and stay strong by not taking any of that saved money.
2. Get your badge early – this one is good to do as early as possible also. If you can do it while at Dragon Con or within that first month after, then you will save some money. The badge/membership, costs less when you buy it that early. If you wait till the last day you will be paying full amount.
3. Cosplay – if you know what you want to cosplay as then the earlier you think about it, the better. A helpful tip, wait until after Halloween to get some good sale prices on supplies. Places like Wal-Mart and Walgreens will start putting items on sale, (I know it's hard to pass up that candy), and getting things like makeup and props are dirt cheap. Why pay full retail in May when you can pay 75% off full retail in November if you know what you want to do or even an idea of what you want. Go to places like Goodwill to get things you might need or to get practice items. It's better to get some practice in sewing, painting, gluing, or something else if you use the cheap throwaway stuff then it is to do it on the items you want to use that cost a lot, and who knows, it could turn out good and you got it cheap and out of the way.
4. Talk to friends early – If you plan on having roommates, then start talking to them now about it. If you have to save then most likely so will they. If you all know early who is going, you all can save and start planning early so that when it comes time to go, there is less of the rush and hurry and what am I forgetting moments. Also, and this is important, if you plan early with friends and one of them backs out, you need to have backup ready for what you can do and knowing this in advance is better than last minute. My advice, always plan for one person to cancel last minute. If it's only 2 of you going, then that's bad, but if it's 4 of you, that's doable. You can all plan for one of you to cancel. Not in a bad way, life is life and things happen that can change plans that wasn't done in a way that makes that person a bad friend. It just means you all know that maybe the boss cancels the vacation, or something else, and if you all plan on that, then you can all save just a little extra so that in case you can't find someone you still have the room price covered without you dipping into the money for the fun parts.
5. List it – No I don't mean put it on some medium for sale. What I mean is, make a list for everything. The best way I can describe planning for Dragon Con is this way. It's like camping out in the woods of a state park that's next door to some big event like a championship style game. You will be in a hotel for comfort but you can't eat out every day for all meals so you have to have your food that you can eat easily in your room but you can't build a fire to cook the food. You will need snacks to keep your energy levels up, water for fluids, and you got to have enough for everyone that's staying with you, and not everyone will like the same things. Then there's the clothes you have to bring, washing supplies, medical supplies, cosplay, and any props. Now you got some idea of your camping but now you are going to the stadium that your next to, so that means how will you get there and what do you need there? Comfy shoes for the walking, the shorts to keep you cool, a bag to carry your stuff in, a camera for photos, the water to keep hydrated, some snacks for your pockets, pens, pencils, your phone, a portable charager, your cable, and again so many other things. That's why a list is so important. Start now and you can add and/or subtract what you need as the year goes by.
5.1. Lists for things to do – This goes with 5, but is also different. As the days get closer, the website for Dragon Con gets updated. Follow them on instagram and twitter so you can stay updated on the guests that get added as the year passes. By the day of the con there will be so many guests, vendors, performers, authors, artists, and others that it's impossible to keep track of it all, unless you plan on seeing 1 person and that's it. But, if you plan on more, then make lists. Having your lists of who you want to see on the walk-of-fame, who you want to get autographs from, photos from, which panels you want to see, the artists you want, the concerts, the photoshots, the meet up groups, and all the other things, then you need a list or lists.