17 Travel Secrets From Cosplay Veterans Who’ve Conquered The Convention Scene

Cover image: MM Yam

Have you ever wondered how hardcore convention goers or cosplayers seem to have unlimited energy at conventions? Of course they’re excited to be in the anime paradise that is conventions, but they also have tips, tricks, and secrets that make it easy to conquer the con!

Here’s some of the best tips gathered from a crew of hardcore cosplayers and con goers that have conquered the convention experience!

1. Save a picture of your contact info on every phone, camera, tablet you own

Puchimasu!! Petit Petit iDOLM@STER

Puchimasu!! Petit Petit iDOLM@STER © Gathering Co, LTD

This trick is one anyone who has lost (or almost lost) tech knows. In fact the writer Another Fangirl summed this useful tip up perfectly in the article 14 Things Your Convention Staff Want You To Know – “Clear the storage on your camera before your con and then snap a picture of your contact info for the first image.” 

Most people at cons tend to be nice and if you’re lucky, you’ll find your tech returned to you!

2. Get a portable phone charger

Phones are how we communicate with our friends, view the convention app/schedule, where we store our pictures, and even how we show our mobile boarding pass at airports. The struggle to keep our phone charged is as vicious as the fight to find outlets is.

Save yourself from this stress with a mobile charger that stores 2 – 3 full phone charges so during the day, you never have to worry. Just charge it again at night and repeat the next day.

I can’t recommend which ones are the best but the portable charger I use right now works well and does seem to charge a bit faster than normal outlet charges (but not drastically).

Samsung Phone

You can see this and more options here

3. Set a “dire importance” list as your phone background that you check on way to con, at con, and when leaving so you don’t lose things

iPhone Home Screen

Yes, I get a lot of emails. Mostly google alerts on figure and fashion sales

Save it on your phone so it’s easy access, and you can make a custom background for it or do a lazy screen capture in notepad on your phone like the example above! Bonus points for adding a friend’s contact info so if lost, people can return it. Try to keep the dire importance list under 10 items and it’ll help you keep track of the things that if you lose, you’re going to have a very bad time.

4. Bring a better lanyard

Attack on Titan Lanyard with charm

Lanyard with charm on Amazon 

Often times the convention you visit won’t have the lanyard type you prefer (whether it’s the clip type for simplicity or the lanyards with clear sleeves you can store a hotel key and cash in with your badge) You can order lanyards cheap online that match your costume colors or one that has the character you’re cosplaying! Now you’re really styling!

5. Plan for downtime

Space Dandy

Space Dandy © Bones

Everyone gets on a convention high and thinks they should run from event to party to photoshoot all day. This means you’re ragged at the end of the weekend and are susceptible to getting a cold. Plus the more you rest, the harder you can play during the weekend!

Plan for an hour rest break in the AM (get food, chill in lobby, walk around the grounds) and an hour in the PM (more food, nap, hang out with new friends). Some of our fondest memories were from chill conversations during downtime or just relaxing in anime paradise.

6. Choose a good meal replacement

Howl's Moving Castle -Studio Ghibli

Howl’s Moving Castle © Ghibli

Whether you’re trying to save money by skipping breakfast/lunch or you’re just too busy to find food, many con goes forget to eat! Feel full and feel good by packing meal replacements and filling snacks. Because even if you plan to eat every meal, trust us, something will happen.

Pack things you can carry or put in hotel fridge like carrots, protein shakes, Lara bars, beef jerky, almonds, trail mix, dry edamame, peanut butter cups with crackers, tuna packs (tuna, mayo, condiments, crackers), or you could make a big batch of onigiri (recipe here in Anime Food Recipes Even Idiots Can Cook)

Onigiri

And just because people will make this mistake: potato chips and candy bars are not a meal replacement. The sugars and carbohydrates with no fiber/protein will make you crash later when you could be going strong with the right fuel!

7. Use bags in your bags and bring extra bags

Chi's Sweet Home anime

​Chi’s Sweet Home © Madhouse

Your luggage is going be overflowing with merch or cosplay when leaving the con (think of artists alley!) and might even be stuffed going there too! Finding your Saturday afternoon cosplay shirt now means you have to pull everything out of your suitcase to find it. And going home, your shoes might stamp all over your white Oreimo wedding dress. Now you’ll never be a bride.

Oreimo - Kirino and Kyousuke

WRONG. You’re going to put all your cosplay in separate colored bags or even trash bags with something so you can tell which bag is which (write on it, use ribbon, stickers, chip bag clips). You’re going to put shoes in small plastic or paper shopping bags or shower caps so they don’t get anything else dirty. And you’re going to bring extra bags to put your new, clean merch in so it’s protected from shampoo, drinks, or makeup bottles spilling or exploding.

8. Buy shoe cushions and put them in every shoe you plan to wear

If you’re a hardened New Yorker or Tokyoite, then you’re used to walking around all day. But if you’re not accustomed to being on your feet, your feet are likely going to be feeling it by end of day one. Shoe inserts will save your feet and keep you walking on clouds at the con.

Try to find the removable ones if you’re going to wear a few different pairs!

9. Set phone alarms for hydration checks

Pikachu drinking water - Pokemon

Pokemon © OLM, Inc

So many people have a bad con experience and not even realize it’s because they’re dehydrated. If you’ve felt overly irritable, tired, or sensitive it could be from lack of water. Set phone alarms for every 3 – 4 hours as hydration checks that remind you to grab a full glass of water from wherever you can get it, even the sink. Be sure to drink water since coffee, coconut water, and even soda can dehydrate you due to chemicals (or the diuretic effects of the first two).

10. Pack a mild sleep aid

Spongebob Squarepants - Squidward

Spongebob Squarepants © Nickelodeon

You’re at the con and there are so many people to talk to, meet, take photos with, and there’s always something new happening. Throughout the day you’re on such a high it’s sometimes hard to come down at night because you have so much adrenaline. A night with no rest means the next day could be rough, so you might need to use a mild sleep aid.

It depends what works for you. Some people swear by warm milk (order from room service or buy small milk carton and heat in hotel microwave). Others make a 20 minute slow music mix to wind down. If you tend to have trouble sleeping, you can explore drowsy cold/cough medicine or use stronger sleep aids if you need to (but use them with caution!)

11. Bring baby wipes

K-On!

K-On! © Kyoto Animation

Let’s be honest – we can be so tired at the end of the day that we just fall asleep with our cosplay makeup on or without showering because the 5 other people we’re rooming with all are queued for the shower already. Baby wipes are gentle, usually cheap wipes that can help you clean your face quickly or wipe down from a sweaty day standing outside at Line-con. It’s not a shower replacement but it can help you smell more like a flower and less like a locker room.

12. Take pictures of any important cards you get

Imagine this

  • You find the perfect wall scroll from your favorite show but it’s sold out so you get the artists card so you can order online
  • You meet your new favorite podcaster who you bonded with over this season’s best anime, they give you their card and ask you to message them since they want you to talk your recommendations on their next episode
  • A super cool voice actor tells you there is a voice over role perfect for you that they’re auditioning right now and gives you their card

By the end of the con, you have 20 cards, bags of merch, and all your luggage. It’s so easy to lose one important card. Any card you want to keep, take a picture of it on your phone. Even email it to yourself for extra safety. If you’re fancy, there are free apps that can scan a business card and turn it into a contact in your phone – no typing required!

13. Tag people right with paper and fun

Order your very own signed Totoro Cosplay Print and get a FREE Totoro postcard <3 <3 <3—-> http://goo.gl/ZLa3qK*If you would like a more personalized signing let me know in a note w/ your order :3

Posted by Dustbunny on Wednesday, July 9, 2014

If you tend to be trigger happy and want to tag all the new friends and cosplayers you meet, bring a pad of paper and a pen or sharpie. You could ask everyone to write their name, cosplay, and social handles on one piece of paper. Or you could make it super easy by asking people to write their info BIG on a piece of paper so in your camera/phone, you have a cosplay picture then a picture of the cosplayer with a sign of their name and social handles. Now tagging everyone right is a breeze!

14. Decide the top events you want to go to and schedule them

Phone ringing in anime

Conventions are almost in a parallel universe where it’s easy to lose track of time. Avoid this by putting in your phone calendar the 3 – 5 events you really want to go to. Set the calendar to alert you 30 minutes before each event or set it in your phone alarms with a custom label. Take snapshots to save in your phone or circle in the guidebook the event descriptions so you can easily and quickly show any new friends you make who may want to go with you to continue the party.

15. Bring entertainment options that don’t require wifi

Attack on Titan Manga Volumes

cailinowens / deviantart

Hotel wifi is across the board bad, it’s either slow or expensive to use. More people nowadays are using Netflix, Viewster, Crunchyroll, and Hulu to watch but it’s not easy to stream at a con. Instead bring a DVD, manga, light novel, game, or anything that doesn’t make you rely on your download speed.

16. Try something new

D-Piddy Cosplay - Kakashi and Free!

D-Piddy / YouTube

Conventions are the perfect place to be weird or be bad at something you’ve never done. It’s all for fun and expanding your horizons! Be bold and try a new cosplay technique, join in a card tournament, sing your favorite song at karaoke, go crazy with dance at the rave, make friends with new people, or go above and beyond by using a character voice in cosplay! There’s always a great rush of excitement when you do something new!

17. Budget your cash

anime money

If you go to one or two cons a year, it’s ok to go crazy and splurge. But if you go to a con every other month, you have to get wise with your money. Always budget out your money ahead of time because at the convention, you will just spend until your wallet is empty.

Get a few envelopes and label them by day or activity. For example, we’d likely have 5 envelopes:

  • Friday food
  • Saturday food
  • Sunday food
  • Traveling – all the incidentals like road trip snacks, paying hotel room charges, or checked bag on a flight
  • Artist alley – the amount of money you’re going to spend on merch

Some people leave $10,- $50 in their wallet as their extra splurge money on anything. The envelope method makes sure you’re staying on budget and don’t have to worry about your credit limit. Leave any envelopes you’re not using that day in the safe in your hotel room and book clip your envelopes together for easy access!

What are your best convention tips?

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Jenbae
Jenbae enjoys reading manga, yelling at her laptop, and eating popcorn with extra butter. She also enjoys writing blurbs about herself in 3rd person where she doesn't know what to say but she recommends everyone to check out the webtoons: The Gamer and The Pale Horse.
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