This is from the perspective of a working "adult" that is used to waking up at 6 AM and sleeping again at 10 PM. A person who can no longer live consequence-free on a diet of wheat-thins and cream cheese, easy mac and cup noodle. And a person who has had over a decade of opportunities to "do it the wrong way". Most of these are common sense - but in the midst of pre-convention excitement, you'd be surprised how easily basic things get overlooked.
My thoughts on how to survive (and enjoy!) a con:
- Bring earplugs. Events are loud. And even if they are not, it's guaranteed that a shrieking flock of fangirls will be. One year we sat in an event next to a girl that decided to replace all her laughter with the "Oh ho ho ho" stereotypical high-pitched anime villianess voice. We lasted about ten minutes before we went insane. Earplugs would have helped. Actually this year was the first time we remembered to bring the things, and it made a world of difference. We made it through the entire cosplay show this year thanks in part to the little squishy plugs!
- Bring ibuprofen/tylenol/headache meds. For the same reason as the earplugs: less headaches = better mood = more con enjoyment! Usually I like to tough things out and not resort to medication if it can be avoided, but I think things like conventions are a good exception. You paid good money to go - you want to be able to enjoy as much as you can!
- Eat real food. Even if it means you have to walk a bit, don't eat McD's every day. I know as a high schooler we saved every little bit of money we had to spend in the dealer's hall, so we often brought our own food from home. This is a good idea if you want to save money. Now that we have jobs and all, we end up spending more on good food than on action figures. I guess our priorities have shifted! (But to be honest I still bring a few cup noodles for late night snacking. A little nostalgia is okay!)
- Hydrate. For those of us not used to it - constant air conditioning can really dry you out. In Sak's case he even gets a little sick from it. The increased walking to and from events doesn't seem like much while you're doing it, but it's easy to get a little dehydrated. If you don't want to carry a water bottle around, at least find a reliable water fountain you can count on. Energy drinks, soda and coffee may help you stay alert during a convention, but make sure you throw some regular ol' h2o in there as well! (Also, if you can stand the heat, turning off the A/C in your hotel room will help if you feel too dried out.)
- Bring some bags. I always carry a couple fold up tote bags in my purse for things like artist alleys and swap meets. The small sellers won't always give bags to hold your purchases! I learned this the hard way once when I ran out of arm space in the swap meet and couldn't buy anymore $2 manga. (On the flip - maybe don't bring bags if you want to limit your spending..hahaha!)
- Bring your portable gaming device. DS, PSP, smartphone - lines are always going to be long and plentiful, so if you're not the type to strike up random friendships in line, make sure you have something to keep you sane.
- Bring a power strip. Hotels don't always have enough plugs for all those electronic devices. Phone charger, game charger, camera charger, laptop power, etc.! Now multiply all that by the number of people in your room.
- Study the schedule beforehand. Circle the few things you really really must do - and make sure you get there early to line up. There's nothing quite as depressing/maddening as missing out on the one thing you wanted to do because you didn't bother to look up when it was happening. Also with this - go with the flow. There's a lot going on, so if something is booked up, why not try a different panel? Don't let one missed event get you down! Some cons record their panels, so you might be able to watch them later. (Still, I'll never forgive my friends for ditching the Moonchild movie with me that one year. All I wanted was for everyone to see Gackt and Hyde's movie together, and nooo, we ended up at a ultra loud no-earplug concert instead. Not that I'm still bitter about that or anything. >.>")
- Stay safe. It's extreme, but it wouldn't hurt to do a little research on crowd safety. Things like - always move with the flow of the crowd, cover your head if you fall and are being trampled, know where your exits are and have an emergency strategy. Also, keep your valuables close and don't trust just anyone to watch your stuff. This happened to someone at the past convention, he made a new friend, asked the friend to watch his bag while he went to the restroom, and both friend and bag (of electronics) were gone when he came out. Be careful with your stuff!
- Go all out. At the end of the day - let's face it. You're an adult. There's not a lot of opportunity to let your crazy otaku-flag fly. So make the most of the convention - if you've always wanted to wear a pink wig or a homemade gundam suit, just do it! No one will judge you for it at a convention. Usually. (If you wear a mask then no one has to know it's you!)
You'll notice I left off hygiene related things. No one should have to tell you to take a shower. That is all.
Fellow seasoned conventioneers, have any pro tips?
(All images from Lucky Star Episode 12, when Konata & friends go to Comiket)