CONVENTIONS: NEWBIE GUIDE A short guide to making the most of cons.

by Gandalara

So you want to attend a convention? Important note - Many fen are of different or alternate belief systems or lifestyles than society's main stream. Please keep this in mind and treat each other with respect and courtesy.

  1. Buy your membership. Depending on the Con, this can be done months or even years ahead of time. Once you have this, you will start to receive Progress Reports and updates through the mail. The earlier you buy your membership, the cheaper it will be.

  2. Reserve your hotel room as soon as the ConCom releases the booking information. Doing this quickly guarantees you'll be at the hotel you want. Find roommates if you want, but remember that if your roommates' bail at the last minute, you'll be responsible for the whole cost. Never book a room you can't afford on your own.

  3. Make your travel plans. With WorldCon, the ConCom sometimes negotiates discounts with certain airlines, railroads and bus lines. Sometimes this saves you money, sometimes it doesn't. Comparing can save you big bucks! Find out if your hotel has a free shuttle from the airport.

  4. Packing:
    • Clothes for the climate. Pack, and then take half of them out. You won't wear them.
    • No fancy clothes, unless that's your regular mode of dressing. Most fen live in T-shirts and jeans.
    • Comfortable shoes. You will be on your feet most of the time.
    • Leave the illegal things at home.
    • Wristwatch, so you don't miss your most looked-forward-to panel.
    • Money, whether in the form of cash, credit cards or traveler's checks. Don't bring the rent money - if you bring it, you will spend it.
    • Remember to take your hotel confirmation number with you - hotels have been known to lose information.
    • Take a picture ID and a mailing label from the Progress Reports - it has your membership number on it.
    • Any books you want autographed. But don't take any to read. You won't have time.
    • Your "want list" of books to look for in the dealer's room.
    • Earplugs. Being trapped in a room with someone from the Olympic snoring team could be agonizing.
    • Camera. And film, if you don't have a Digicam.
    • For singles - birth control. Better safe than sorry.

    I've found that when I fly cross-country, it works well to take 2 suitcases - one filled with clothes, and the other filled with munchies. You eat the munchies at the con (especially helpful when room service isn't open), and fill it up with books to bring home :)

  5. When you get there:
    • Get your room, unpack and take a deep breath.
    • Take your picture ID and your mailing label, and find Con Registration to get your programming book and your badge (Never lose this! Your badge must be visible and attached to your clothing at all times when you are in a convention area. Including room parties).
    • The fun part is looking at the programming schedule and trying to figure out how to attend 360 hours of programming at a 120 hour convention :)
    • Find the ConSuite. They usually supply free munchies and drinks throughout the con. It's nice to dash in between panels to grab a Pepsi.

  6. Enjoy the con.

  7. Miscellaneous trivia and suggestions:
    • Remember the 5-2 rule ... 5 hours sleep and 2 meals a day.
    • Bathe. And use deodorant. You will find many fen who forget this rule. You usually find them in an elevator.
    • People at conventions tend to flirt a lot, but only about 10% of these activities approach anything serious. A possibility exists that you may be propositioned and/or flirted with by someone whose interests or preferences don't match your own. If you get an offer you're not interested in, refuse politely and don't make a scene.
    • Take a break away from the crowd and noise. Remember to put your feet up once in a while.
    • Remember that Authors and Editors are People Too. Don't interrupt their meal or push in when they are in serious conversation with someone else. Don't trap them in an elevator and plead for advice on how to get published. You can usually find them between panels if you want to say hello, or at room parties at night. Bribery is good - offer to buy them a drink or a cup of coffee. Don't monopolize them - they have a lot of people to talk to in a limited amount of time.
    • Don't get sloppy drunk in public.
    • Remember to tip the maid. A dollar bill on your pillow every morning works wonders for good service.
    • Remember jailbait is jailbait - and Mom and Dad are probably at the convention.
    • Do not wave fake weapons around. Security doesn't like it.
    • Everyone you see working at the convention is a volunteer - whether it is in security, registration, the art show or hospitality. They are not being paid. Treat them nicely. Better yet, volunteer some of your time to help out. Volunteering is a great way to meet other people.
    • Budget your time as well as your money. You can't possibly see everything and everybody, so don't kill yourself trying.
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