Tips for Getting the most out of Anthrocon

This article largely based on an article titled "What to take to a Con", written by Matt J. McCullar several years ago. We'd like to thank him for his work on it.

At Anthrocon, we want you to have fun! So, we compiled this list of suggestions for getting the most out of your Anthrocon experience. This is based on both Matt's original document and the experiences of Anthrocon's members and staff over the years.

  • Staying in touch
  • Be sure to leave the hotel's phone number and/or your cellphone number with your family. If an emergency comes up, how will they be able to reach you? Try this phone number beforehand and make sure it works. Notify the hotel desk if you change rooms so they'll know where to relay messages.

  • Dealing with hotel employees
  • When dealing with hotel employees, always get their names. This helps track down and prevent communications problems, particularly when some clerk sneers, "Well, I don't know who you talked to, but our policy has always been..." Be very polite if you bump up against a problem, and be persistent.

  • Medical issues and/or medication
  • Write down on a stiff card the following information: your name, any medical information paramedics need to know, and whom to contact in case of an emergency. If you aren't wearing a medical bracelet, the next place the medtechs will look is in your wallet or purse. Keep the card there and make sure your roommates know about it.

  • Holding your mail, newspapers, and housesitting
  • If your residence will be empty, ask your post office to hold your mail while you're away. This can be done for free by filling out a small card at the counter. Also stop newspaper delivery and ask your neighbors or landlord to watch your home (bribe 'em with stuff you bring back from the con!). Have someone take care of the pets, the plants and the kids.

  • Sketchbooks
  • Put your name on/in your sketchbooks. I'm amazed at how many people don't do this and eventually lose them forever. We have a few guest books show up in the Lost and Found at Con Ops every year.

    It wouldn't be a bad idea to trade cellphone numbers with the artist so that you can locate each other quickly as the con comes to a close and folks need to leave.

  • Checking out of the hotel
  • Check under the bed before you leave the hotel. The monsters that live there eat socks, shoes, etc.

  • Saving money on convention registration
  • Take advantage of pre-con registration. Not only will you save money, you also won't have to stand in a big line.

  • Keeping track of your hotel reservation
  • Be sure to bring along a printout of your hotel reservation when checking into the hotel. It can help speed things up if the hotel encounters a problem in getting you a room. If you made your hotel reservation months in advance, set aside a folder to hold all Anthrocon-related materials, such as your registration receipt and hotel reservation.

  • Budgeting time and money
  • Budget your time as well as your money. You can't possibly see everything and everybody, so don't kill yourself trying. Your body needs to sleep and eat, so include time for both in your schedule. You won't enjoy the con if you make yourself sick.

  • Leave some space in your luggage
  • You always return from a con with more stuff than when you left, so bring an extra bookbag. Or make sure you leave room in your luggage for all the stuff you'll buy. Prepare to do some heavy lifting.

  • Business cards
  • When handing out business cards, do it three at a time. This makes it easier for others to pass out information about you and your work. Therefore, bring plenty of business cards. Be certain your addresses -- e-mail, website and otherwise -- on them are current.

  • Dealers like small bills
  • Turn some of your money into small bills before you get to the dealer's room. You can't count on every merchant being able to break a twenty. If you're a dealer, be sure you've got plenty of change before the doors open. Try to use the ATM when everyone else isn't.

  • Finding your luggage
  • Your luggage will be impossible to identify at the airport without marking it in some unique way. Wrap colored tape (such as day-glow orange or yellow) around the handle, and/or use colored tape to form some kind of a pattern on both sides that will pick at your eye for a long distance. Put your name inside your luggage as well as on the outside.

  • Passing around flyers
  • If you're printing up flyers for other events to place on the freebie table at Anthrocon, have someone else proofread them. You may have forgotten to include something vital -- such as the date or the location. A fresh pair of eyes will spot this immediately. Better than printing out an expensive pile of paper that no one can use.

  • Rapidograph technical drawing pens
  • Don't open Rapidograph technical drawing pens on airplanes. The (lack of) air pressure makes them explode and the waterproof ink is a bear to clean up. Keep them in a plastic bag inside your luggage until you arrive.

  • Taking a laptop through airport security
  • Airport security may ask you to boot up your laptop computer. Therefore, keep the batteries charged. (This should go without saying, but do not joke around security checkpoints. TSA really does not like that.)

  • Keep your car healthy
  • If you plan to drive to the convention and your car needs servicing, don't wait until the last minute. Get it done at least two weeks in advance. This gives everything a chance to break in and you're less likely to end up stranded in the middle of nowhere. Give yourself and your car plenty of rest breaks during the trip. Do you know how to
    change a flat? Practice before you go. Carry lots of water -- both for yourself and for the car.

  • Flying to the convention?
  • If you're flying to the convention, keep your plane tickets in a safe place. If you're flying with a group, appoint one person to be in charge of the tickets. Make certain that everyone knows where they are kept. Don't lose them! Keep airline tickets inside an envelope of an unusual color, so you can find it in a hurry inside a crowded folder or briefcase.

  • Do not overfill hotel rooms
  • Moderation in all things: don't overfill a hotel room. Sure, 20 people for a pizza party is fun, but it's absolute misery for all involved when it's time for lights out. It'll overload the bathroom, and it's also against the fire codes.

  • Everyone is a representative of furry fandom
  • Like it or not, as soon as you set foot into the convention, you become an ambassador for furry fandom and a newbie's first impression may come from you, your behavior, and your personality. The same goes for the other hotel guests -- ordinary folks who have no idea what Anthrocon is all about. Try to make everyone feel welcome. Will a new fan join the fun, or will he run screaming into the night? We're all supposed to have fun at a convention, not frighten people away forever.

  • Is this your first Anthrocon?
  • By the same token, if you're new to fandom and are a bit timid around strangers, don't worry. You will see and meet all sorts of people. Take heart in knowing that they are all there for the same reason you are. That means you have something in common already. If you need help with anything, ask the convention staff. They are ready and willing to help first-timers as well as seasoned pros. They can introduce you to other fans, and that's one of the main reasons why we go to conventions.

Tell yourself over and over that you WILL have a good time, because you will -- if you let it happen. If you're convinced that you'll have a lousy time, you'll probably find a way to make that happen, too. It's fun! Enjoy it.

Have a question or comment on this article? Come discuss it in the forums!

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