Have Con? Will Travel. Tips for a safe, happy and stress free convention.

I met a Hobbit once. 

He looked like an English professor. 

I met two Hobbits once. One still looked like an English professor and the other like an art film director.

It was a dream come true, for me, and for several others who lined up for hours and paid money to be unleashed on a world more magical than that of the Shire.

A convention. Made for people who love things that aren’t necessarily “normal.” 

Comic book creators, sci-fi actors, fantasy stars and as many people as you can cram into a building without violating fire regulations. 

But how does one survive a comic book convention? Well folks, here are the rules and regulations, and advisements for surviving this paradise we call con.

Advise/Rule No 1: If there’s a hotel attached you want to be there.

For a convention money means everything. But more than anything, convenience can mean the most. If the convention centre the convention is at has a hotel attached, or it is IN a hotel you want to be at ground zero. 

No traipsing back to the hotel when you inevitably forget your photo pass. No lugging heavy bags around, or winter coats. Because why should you? You’re right there.

Pro tip: Become friends with a travel agent. If so, you can get cheaper rates and kudos to you if you can get that agent to come with you.

Advise/Rule No 2: Shoes, if nothing else matter.

You’ll be standing on concrete. You’ll stand for hours. Your feet will burn. Your back will ache. Your muscles will scream.

But trust me when I say, you will love every second of it. Because behind that door? Is the one person you’ve always dreamt of meeting. 

Advise/Rule No. 3: Granola Bars, Energy snacks, gum and lemonade.

If you can, carry all of these things. They’re great for line waiting. Go peanut free and you can have a little party with those around you. Don’t expect to get through a short line to grab a slice of cheap pizza.

The lines are never short and the pizza is never cheap. You don’t get pepperoni and melted cheese until you’ve sold your soul.

Advise/Rule No. 4: These are your people, remember that. 

Have a hard time getting along with coworkers? Were you the one who was a bit odd in high school? Right now you are with your people. They LOVE nerdy things. They’ll debate, they’ll chatter, they’ll sail the same ‘ships you do.  So get on that boat and anchors away my friends, because some of my best friend’s have been made at conventions.

People who love Sherlock, who love X-Men, who hate sports (I love them, I confess). People who play video games, or never played anything beyond Mario.

If you are going to find anyone at a convention, if you keep an open mind you will have a blast. 

Advise/Rule No 5: Have fun.

Just…enjoy yourself. Allow yourself to be you. Take pics of the cosplayers, dress up yourself. Wear nerdy tees, wear ironic tees. Support the people in artist alley. Get an airbrush tattoo if you can’t afford a real one.

Be who you want to be, and do what you want to do. 

Travel Agents: We’re Still Here

I work as a Travel Consultant. And I’ve heard all the jokes. Trust me.

I’ve heard the one about being a dinosaur. The one about booking online. The one about how my time in this career is limited. The one about how I must not make any money.

But more than that, I hear that people are happy to have called us, glad that we’re still around and for some inquiries “a computer is just too complicated.” Now don’t get me wrong, computers are great. I’m on one right now in fact, not having chiselled this one into stone. I book my travel on computers, but I have access to resources that others don’t.

So next time you’re considering booking a trip, consider an agent. One in your town who might be struggling. Or the local call centre.

You might be surprised at what you find, but for that I do have some advice.

Words your agent might not be interested in hearing: last minute deals.

You know what you might be interested in hearing: early booking bonus.

Sometimes, if you book early enough you can get price guarantees, allowing you to get a price match once if the price drops drastically. You can get free upgrades on your flights, and free seat selection. Some of them even allow your travel dates to be changed if need be seven days prior to departure. You can, in the case of some agencies, get a free night’s pre-stay at a hotel. Shipboard credits on cruises. Early booking bonuses can make your world a beautiful thing.

And also, while you may book directly through a supplier website, or the online booking engines of the world let it be known, sometimes if you book with an agent, you don’t have to pay it all up front. Different ways of booking make it possible for a deposit, and then final payment up to 45 days prior to departure with limited cancellation penalties.

And why wouldn’t you want someone else to do the work for you? Guaranteed, if you get the right agent even if they don’t have all the answers, they would be more than willing to log the man hours and do the research for you. Don’t take not getting immediate answers as a lack of experience. We don’t know everything. But we damn sure try.

So next time you’re considering booking a vacation? Give an agent a call. You might be pleasantly surprised.

“Travel does not exist without home….If we never return to the place we started, we would just be wandering, lost. Home is a reflecting surface, a place to measure our growth and enrich us after being infused with the outside world.”

-Josh Gates Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter