I’m going to write this under the assumption that, like most anime fans, you’re on somewhat of a budget. (And no, I don’t know how many parts this is gonna be. But it was starting to get too long to just shove in one post.)
Topics covered this time around: lodging, friends, food & drink, badges. Exciting, I know.
Stay at the con’s recommended hotel if at all possible, since that’s where the majority of your fellow congoers are going to be. Anime fans may suck, but you committed to this thing, so you better fucking see it through fully.
Otherwise, you should look for whatever the closest hotel to the convention proper is. Sometimes, there are hotels that aren’t recommended by the con that are better picks (for example, Ohayocon 2013’s Hilton hotel was a better choice than the Hyatt, since there’s a skyway between the convention center and the hotel). Walking distance/convenience is of utmost importance, since laziness is a prominent trait of otaku.
You can commute from a local place if you want, but I’d strongly suggest against it unless you can walk from there. The drive back is gonna be a bitch, and if you have to grab a ride, it’s gonna be incredibly inconvenient. Don’t do that to yourself; pony up some cash.
“$120 a night? But I’m poor as shit!”
Hotels are not fucking cheap, so I hope you have some friends to room with and split the cost. Don’t feel awkward about it either; it’s pretty much a given that otaku are gonna be packed in rooms like sardines just to save a buck. Hotels even put out special notices for anime cons like “no more than 4 people to a room”. Take it as a challenge! Just make sure you either bribe the maid to look the other way or hide how many people are there really well, cuz otherwise you’re gonna have to deal with hotel management bitching at you.
But unless you wanna get a spoon train rolling, I’d suggest two people per bed, unless it’s king-sized, and then you can go with three. Past those amounts, better hope for a couch being included in the room, or bring a sleeping bag/blow-up mattress.
And no, don’t be a fucking idiot. If you ask for 5 room keys, they’re gonna be onto you. Ask for four, and then later say you lost one if you need another.
Pick the lowest floor possible if you have the option. I hate to break this to you, but unless you have all the goddamn time in the world, come Sunday morning the elevators are gonna be a bitch to get onto (since everyone has to check out by noon). And if you think you can “outsmart” everyone and take a ride to the top floor so you have priority going back down, you’re going to be in for a rude awakening. So yeah, you’re likely gonna have to take the stairs if you wanna get out in a decent timeframe.
The best way to deal with this is to call the hotel before the con starts and see if you can get onto a lower floor. Yes, you’re gonna have to fucking call them. I know you don’t want to, but you’re gonna have to suck it up. And then when you check in to the hotel, ask again if there are any lower floors — the fewer stairs between you where you wanna be, the better. Elevators are a fucking timesink that are to be avoided if at all possible.
If you listen to only one thing I say in this post, listen to this.
I know I just touched on this from a hotel budget standpoint, but this is important on its own: Make sure you know at least one person you can spend some time at the con with.
Unless you’re a social savant (and since you’re an anime fan, I know you’re not), you’re gonna need someone you know to hang with — doing shit all alone for 1-4 days in a row is going to be crushingly depressing at a social event like a convention. That’s just how it is.
I’m not saying you need to surround yourself with people at all times like some fucking normalfag, but at least cut out an hour to hang with people you can somewhat stand, or you’re going to get depressed as fuck. And bored.
“But D_S, I seriously don’t have any friends”
Then fucking make some. Hell, I’ll be your goddamn friend. I’m serious. If we’re going to the same con, I will carve out some time to hang with you. (Unless you have Downs or are morbidly obese or something. Sorry, I have standards.)
If I’m not gonna be in your area, other internet communities are probably gonna be your easiest way to find people going to cons that you can hang out with. Hell, the conventions’ forums often have “Anyone wanna meet up?” posts if you don’t go to any sites other than this one (not that I blame you).
It’s up to you in the end, but I really cannot recommend you go to a con alone. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Food & Drink
Eating out ain’t cheap and it certainly ain’t quick at cons. You can expect large, slow-moving lines at any place that sells food within walking distance around the fangeek fiesta. So bring your own shit if you don’t wanna deal with the hassle.
Just remember that about the only thing guaranteed in a hotel room is a working faucet. You can call ahead to see if the rooms offer other options, like a working kitchen, a microwave, or even a refrigerator. But word of warning: if you’re staying at a hotel geared toward convention centers, the amenities are gonna be slim.
So bring ready-to-eat food and your own utensils if you don’t wanna deal with food courts/restaurants. You could probably bum some plastic forks from the hotel kitchen if you wanna deal with finding someone and waiting for them to get you shit, but being cheap is about efficiency, and wasting your time while on vacation ain’t efficient.
Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to get fed for free.
Certain cons (like Anime Detour) will offer free food to attendees. (Well, it’s not really free if you paid the badge fee, but you know what I mean.) Don’t expect much more than rice or something cheap, though.
And hotels often offer free food to guests with status. If you don’t have status (primarily acquired by staying in certain hotel chains quite often), if you know someone who does, you can probably get in on the deal by using their ID number or borrowing their room pass (if they’re at the con too) or something. Keep in mind you’re probably only gonna get a shitty breakfast or some lame hors d’oeuvre, but it’s free for a reason.
I do highly recommend that you do not base your entire weekend around shitty food. You need to be in good health to enjoy your time to the fullest. So budget some cash toward this. Especially if you’re gonna be drinking/doing drugs/having vigorous sexual intercourse with hug pillows.
If you want to contribute to your alcoholism at the con, bring your own booze. For real. Every con I’ve gone to and ended up searching for a liquor store that was open, luck was not with me. So pack your own shit and prepare your body.
In case you’re wondering, quite a few people get shitfaced after 10 PM or so, so you’re gonna be in good company. And yes, this is one of the reasons why I suggest a hotel within walking distance. It’s a lot easier to justify going all out when you don’t have to walk two miles back to your room.
Tips & Tricks, like a goddamn 90s video game book
- Do not trust hotel vending machines, unless they’re on the first floor. Take it from a frequent traveler who’s been burned too many times; those things do NOT get restocked, and their functionability is questionable.
- Most hotels have ice machines. If you aren’t given a refrigerator, you can often grab ice and put it in a bucket or something that you can then throw drinks/whatever into.
- Places that deliver will often only deliver to the lobby of hotels, so just be warned that if you’re not presentable, you may have to actually put on some fucking pants when the pizza delivery guy comes. It’s bullshit, I know, but just another thing we have to deal with in Obama’s America.
- If you end up vomiting all over the room, you won’t be charged a cleaning fee. Woohoo! (But you really better leave a good tip for the maid. That shit ain’t fun to clean up.)
I really hope you’re not poor enough that you have to do this, but you can trade your time for the equivalent of 10 con-dollars per hour or so. This’ll score you a nice staff/volunteer badge. The downside is that you have to spend your con vacation on dealing with anime fans. Gross.
Panelists get free or reduced-price badges at many cons. Treat this as a bonus and not a reason to do a panel, though. Otherwise you’re going to fucking fail at it, and everyone’s gonna hate you. I promise. I, for one, judge the shit out of panelists.
Did you know that any shitty fucking self-proclaimed journalist can get a press badge at most cons? As long as you run something that the con thinks has an audience, you can probably finangle your way into getting a press badge. And trust me, your audience is not too small to get the attention of cons. Whenever I ask “fellow press” what sites they run, it’s always stupidly obscure shit that no one visits at all. (Fuck, 91.8 – The Fan earned a goddamn GUEST SPOT at Youmacon, and I don’t think they have a single listener.)
As a bonus, press badges can get you into certain events early, and you can use it to hit on people who still think journalists matter. Enjoy all that nursing home loving.
If you’re 13 and you really wanna get hit on by creepy old dudes, then you don’t even need a badge. No, I’m not suggesting child prostitution, NSA-kun. I’m just saying that you can just hang around the con premises and not actually go into any of the events or anything. That way, you won’t need to grab a badge at all.
Obviously, I don’t really recommend this route, since you’re limited in what you can do (pretty much to taking pics of cosplayers & talking to weirdos), making the con kinda lame. But if you’re poor, you do what you gotta do.
If you have a lanyard, you may want to bring it with you. Some cons charge you for badge lanyards and it’s not cheap (Youmacon charged us $5). And yes, you’re gonna want one; this shit’s much more convenient than a fucking clip or something.
Get on this as soon as possible. The earlier you buy the badge, the cheaper it is.
And if you can, try and get in on early badge pick-ups, or have the badge mailed to your house. Trust me, the registration lines are insane. You don’t wanna deal with that.
Various cons will offer group discounts if you buy badges in bulk from them. Generally it’s not a lot, but every little bit helps. Of course, to get in on this, you need to be in a large group that’s going to the con. Anime clubs are usually a good way to get in on this, so make a beeline to your local college and pretend you aren’t revolted by what you find.
Okay, I think I’ve worded enough for now.
I don’t know exactly what I’m gonna write about, but expect content. If there’s something you wanna learn about in particular, post a comment. I’ve been to quite a few cons, so I should be able to answer any common-like questions.