Convention Survival Tips for First-Timers

C2E2 Black red and white square logo

With C2E2 coming up and knowing some friends who are going as first timers, I’ve been seeing several posts and tweets asking for tips and things to know. After having made what feels like the same comment in several places, it finally dawned on me to take my own advice and turn what was becoming a series of long Facebook posts into an actual blog post.

So here are some survival tips I’ve gleaned from having attended every C2E2 since the beginning (with one exception, but since I missed the con in exchange for a trip to Costa Rica, I’m not complaining!).

1) Carry snacks with you, preferably ones with some protein, and some fruit — if you can have a solid breakfast, eating snacks throughout the day will help avoid the crappy overpriced convention food you’ll end up wasting time standing in line for. Also have a reusable water bottle, water fountains are plentiful. If you need coffee, expect the lines at the Starbucks to be ridiculous, try to pack a thermos instead.

2) CARRY HAND SANITIZER. And a travel pack of tissues. And a little pack of wet wipes for your hands. Also some ibuprofen.

2a) Even if you’re not cosplaying, if you can, have a travel pack of thread, needles, and little craft scissors on you, as well as some safety pins and a roll of tape. You *never know* if you’ll need them, and if you see any cosplayers in need of assistance because something tore/broke/fell apart, it’s nice to be a helpful community member by having emergency repair supplies on hand.

3) Wear comfortable shoes. You will be spending a lot of time walking & standing in line, don’t underestimate how much it’s going to mess with your feet. If you can, switch shoes so you’re not wearing the same pair two days in a row. Also try to do some stretches before bed, particularly for your back.

4) Weather in Chicago around C2E2 is… unpredictable. One year it’s a delightfully cool spring, other years wet, cold, and miserable. Hopefully you luck out and the weather doesn’t require heavy ass coats but if you do need a heavy coat, there is a coat check for… $3? $5? by the entrance connecting the exhibit area to the Hyatt hotel. It can be worth it, but expect there to be a line, especially Saturday, and they only take cash.

5) Speaking of cash, have some on hand–while most vendors will now have card readers, they don’t always have the easiest time connecting to the convention center’s WiFi. And don’t count on the ATMs at the convention. Aside from the ridiculous fees, they have been known to run out.

6) WiFi/cell signal can be crappy in the convention center. If you can, try to set up meeting times/points ahead of time with friends. Carry a battery pack to charge your phone.

7) Try to have the main things you want to see picked out ahead of time. This includes what panels you want to see, and the booth numbers of any artists/vendors you want to check out. There will be giant hanging banners overhead noting the aisle numbers, so that helps with navigation, but definitely look at the convention map beforehand to get an idea of where things like Autograph sessions, Artists Alley, and expo vendors will be located. C2E2 has a fairly decent app for download as well.

8) Try to use a backpack to carry things, it’ll help spare your shoulders. Also if you’re planning to buy things at the con, pack a spare canvas/reusable bag. If you’re planning to buy art, I’ve found it worthwhile to invest in a plastic art tube with a shoulder strap–you can usually find them at arts & crafts supply stores, but there will definitely be vendors at the cons selling them too. Those same vendors will also have plastic sleeves for art, which if you’d prefer not to roll up your art, are a really good idea to help protect your prints and posters from being bent or wrinkled. But if you want to save yourself some cash, if you’ve got some old boxes lying around, you can cut out sections & tape them together to make a folder to protect your art–just measure them to be slightly bigger than the biggest print you’re planning to buy. (But if you’re planning to buy prints larger than, say 11×17, you might be better off with an art tube.)

9) Expect lines to form up for panels and events beforehand, particularly on Saturday (Friday’s far more chill, Sunday there will still be lines for the BIG things). You’ll want to hit up panel lines at least 20min early on Saturday, more so for Big Name events and such.

10) If you’re a creator of some kind, even if you’re not on panels or at a booth, BRING YOUR BUSINESS CARDS! You never know who you may meet, and it’s a good practice to be in anyway.

11) It’s a HUGE con — there were 80,000 attendees in 2017. If you need to take a break, there is a quiet room, next to the family room (for the 2019 C2E2, the quiet room is N427d).

C2E2 can be overwhelming, but a little planning goes a long way! It’s been my absolute favorite con to attend for almost a decade, and I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.