Convention 101: First Timers
If this is your first convention, things can get overwhelming. Fear not kiddo! Take a deep breath, and relax; it’s all going to be okay. We’re here to help get you on your path to having fun, making new friends along the way, and taking home more memories than you can shake a stick at!
With that, kick back, and let this guide steer you gently in the right direction.
- Relax – Whilst you may be inclined to feel intimidated, lost, or not know what to do, that’s normal! Take a deep breath. Breathe. We’ve got your back!
- Coordinate – The more the merrier! Cons are more fun when you know other people going. Coordinate with your friends ahead of time. Exchange numbers and contact information so you can stay in touch with them while at the con.
- Meet New People – Don’t be afraid to say hi! You’re going to make some new friends, meet people you’ve seen in pictures, followed on Twitter, or watched on FA. Cons are social experiences, and a great way to connect with other people. Be open.
- Ask Questions – Don’t be afraid of ask fellow con-goers or FurDU staff questions (we’re friendly we assure you).
- Double-Check – Two weeks prior to the convention, verify your reservation with the hotel, and double-check your travel plans to ensure everything is correct. If something comes up you’ll then have plenty of time to resolve any issues.
Cons on a Budget
- Grab Some Groceries – Hotel restaurants can be tasty, but also tend to be hard the wallet. Don’t be afraid to hit up the local supermarket or convenience store for supplies. You can easily stock up on water, soda, sports drinks, snacks, chips, and other consumables to tide you over during the con for cheap. Never underestimate the lasting power of a granola bar. Oh, and be sure to see if fridges and microwaves are available in your hotel room. It can make planning meals on a budget easier in advance to know if you can play the role of Hot Pocket connoisseur. Remember, if using the hotel bar fridge, make sure not to disturb any of the items in there already – or they will charge you!
- Delivery – Check online to see what places deliver to your hotel. Menulog and Ubereats tend to have a lot of great options available, and can help give you a ballpark range. FurDU does put up a list of local restaurants with delivery options closer to the con.
- Carpool – Travel to and from the con can be expensive, especially if you’re traveling larger distances. See if any local furs are heading to the con, and have space available. Road trips can be fun! Just make sure everyone has the same schedule though.
The Bare Necessities
You’ve heard the phrase “don’t leave home without it.” – consider this your list of must haves!.
- Cash – At a convention cash is king. While some vendors accept credit card, Paypal, or Square, you can never beat good ol’ cash. Plus it’s helpful to set a spending budget. Remember: ATMs at the convention will most likely be dry by the time you even get to the hotel. Withdraw money while you’re travelling or withdraw beforehand! For our international visitors, dealers and shops will generally only trade in Australia cash currency (AUD).
- Comfortable Shoes – Conventions can have quite a bit of walking involved, and the last thing you want are sore feet putting you out of action. A pair of comfortable shoes can make all the difference in the world!
- Medication – Make sure you take any necessary prescription medications or first aid items (e.g. pain relievers, bandage strips) just in case.
- Phone / Device Chargers – Being able to keep in touch with friends or check your email is important. You’ll definitely want to make sure these are packed.
- Clothing – Bring an extra pair of clothing. Accidents and spills happen, not to mention bad weather and flight delays. They can affect even the most seasoned traveler. Having an extra pair of fresh undies or a spare shirt is always a good idea.
- The Essentials – Body wash/soap, shampoo, razor, shaving cream, deodorant, hair brush/comb, toothbrush, and toothpaste.
Non-Essentials/Nice to Haves
- Character Badges – Character badges can help you find friends and meet new ones! Having badges with art featuring your character or online avatars can be extremely helpful (especially if most people know you best by the characters you play online). Don’t have one? Don’t worry! Lots of artists take commissions for badges prior to cons, and you can even commission them at the con itself. Just be sure to have a reference for what your character looks like, which brings us to…
- Sketchbook(s) & Character Reference – Getting art at the con? You’ll definitely want to bring a sketchbook. If you have a character sheet or reference available be sure to print out a copy or two and keep it with your book. It’ll help ensure art accuracy and make it easier for the artist. Be sure to include your contact info in your sketchbook. It can help the artist return it to you when it’s ready, or help us get it back to you in the unlikely event it gets lost.
- Camera – A picture is worth a thousand words, but without a camera you may want to start honing your writing skills.
- Swim Trunks/Swimsuit – Always handy if you decide to go for a swim in the hotel pool or at the beach!
- A Power Strip – Never underestimate the value of being able to add additional power sockets in a hotel room, ESPECIALLY if you’re sharing a room with other people…
At the Convention
You’ve arrived and checked into your hotel room. Now what?
- Get Your Badge – Look for signage or staff to direct you to the registration desk. Locate the registration line and get your badge! Pre-registering can help cut down time spent in line and get you moving! Don’t forget your ID, too! Without proper ID, we CANNOT process you into the con (no matter how nicely you ask sorry).
- Plan Your Events – Take a look at the con schedule, and mark down your “must attend” events and panels. If you have a smart phone, set a reminder for 15 minutes prior to when the event starts. This gives you plenty of time to get there. With that in mind, be flexible! Over-scheduling your stay can lead to stress. Playing things by ear can be just as enjoyable! This leads to our next point…
- You Can’t Be In Two Places At Once – We even have to remind ourselves of this sometimes! You can’t be everywhere at once, and you may have to make some hard decisions. Different friends might invite you out for dinner with them around the same time, or you may have to choose between conflicting social or convention events. Sometimes you can make a compromise that works out for everyone, but other times you may have to say no. Don’t worry, your friends will understand. You can always hang out another time!
- There Will Be Down Time – No matter how many events we have, no matter how much you plan, there will be down time. Don’t be afraid to make things happen! Play Pokemon? Bring a copy, and be ready to challenge somebody at the con! Check out the Den, draw in a sketchbook, head to the game room, see what your friends are doing. There’s always something to do. Sometimes you just have to find it!
- Be Open Minded – Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers or meet new people. You could very well meet a new face that later turns out to be your best friend, and create a friendship that lasts a lifetime.
The “6-2-1” Rule
The basic daily recommended minimums for a healthy body and mind, not to mention personal hygiene. Following these rules will make the con better for you and for those around you.
Six hours of sleep. Two meals a day. One shower.
Please note: Energy drinks or coffee are NOT a substitute for sleep, period. Proper rest is important to ensure you make the most of your convention.
- Unwanted Affection – Some people are huggers, some are not. It’s generally NOT a good idea to hug or touch people without asking. Standing in front of a fursuiter with open arms is a useful way of asking for a hug.
- Give People Space – Recognize someone you know? Don’t be afraid to say hi! Conventions are a great way to meet people and make new friends. At the same time, try not to hover if the person is busy or drawing, as it can often be distracting.
- Be On Your Best Behavior – Be nice. Be polite. Don’t do anything illegal. And treat others with kindness and respect. Pretty straight forward!
- Costuming is NOT Consent – The act of wearing a costume or fursuit does not grant license for anybody to make inappropriate or suggestive comments, gestures, or unwanted physical contact with costumed attendees. Ask permission, talk to the suiter. Many times they will be happy to interact with you!
- Fursuiters – Fursuiters get priority, as they may be overheating and need to retreat to their room. Make room for ’em! Also, be aware that fursuiters usually have extremely limited vision. Try to keep a clear path for them.
- Sanitation – The elevators ARE NOT a trash can. Don’t throw your garbage on the floor.
- Three’s a Crowd – Stand back when the doors open to let people off first. Nobody likes it when people are trying to rush into the elevator before others can get off. Don’t shove yourself into a crowded car, and don’t jump up and down in the elevator. This is how they break. If you’re caught jumping in the elevators you will be asked to leave the convention, and hotel property.
Replicated and Modified with Permission from FA United, USA.