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How to Prep for a Convention

Updated on January 20, 2016
Marshal Lee and Marceline, Adventure Time, Pgh, PA 2015
Marshal Lee and Marceline, Adventure Time, Pgh, PA 2015 | Source

Planning For the Convention

When planning, keep in mind a few things:

  1. Decide the convention you plan to attend.
  2. Budget and schedule for the event.
  3. Determine if you will cosplay or not.
  4. Determine if you can drive or have to fly to the convention.
  5. Determine if you need a hotel or not.
  6. Decide if you will attend alone or with a group.

These are just the basics. This usually should be 4-6 months in advance to ensure you have a chance to figure most of these out.

Budget and Schedule

When you go to budget, just keep it simple. Don't over budget but don't under budget. You want to make sure it looks similar to the example given below. You want to include the most important first so you know what requires the most attention first. Then end with a miscellaneous as extra items you may want but don't need. Tally up what your total budget would be and include a buffer zone of $20 for taxes that will be placed on the above listed items.

Later, you will want to budget for your cosplay. Price out if you buy or make the costume. Acquire the prices of materials needed, add in a buffer and total out to get your estimated budget.

After you have the budget determined, you want to schedule the time you may need off to attend. If you have a job and have proven yourself as a valuable employee, there is a higher chance of being allowed time off than if you are an employee that is constantly late, multiple call off's or just an over all bad employee. If your work place is short of staff or you request too late, you also have a less likely chance to get the time off.

Try to be considerate of your coworkers and your employeer. This will help you in the long run.

Basic Budget

What to Plan
What you plan to spend
How much to put aside
x/day or person
Spending Money

What is cosplaying?

Cosplaying is a big part of conventions. Cosplaying is dressing in costume and playing as the character you choose to be. You can use any character from comic books, animes, cartoons, television shows, movies, etc. You can make or buy your costumes; there are no rules when it comes to cosplaying! Just be creative with your cosplays or keep it simple. At cons, you don't have to cosplay.

Tekkoshocon Pgh,PA 2015
Tekkoshocon Pgh,PA 2015 | Source

Character picking and concept art

When deciding a character for the convention, you can choose your favorite character, creature or what ever you want to do. Cosplaying has no limits. You also want to determine if you want to shop a group or individual cosplay.

You want something comfortable for you. Think about the time of year you are going and plan for the elements. This goes for group and individual cosplays. If you go in the winter months, plan a warmer cosplay that can keep you comfortable outside but you won't over great with inside the convention center. For spring or autumn, plan both for winter and summer elements. Weather is usually all over the place in these seasons.

After you decide your cosplay, decide what style will work best for you. Do some concept designs to help decide how it will look on you. Keep in mind the material you use to ve within convention regulations. Most conventions won't allow what is known as "live steel" (any metal that can and will harm you or other convention goers). You can try a hard plastic, dense foam or paper mâche as alternatives for the metal look.Once you have an idea, get your material budget in order.

Go to thrift stores, party stores, cheap apparel stores, craft stores, costume stores or online to get prices for materials you might need. Figure out what materials will be most comfortable and will keep you warm or cool. You can make this a group event even if you aren't doing a group cosplay.

Concept art for Patches a Custom character

You can use multiple concepts when deciding what style to you want. Not every concept will make the cut and that's alright!
You can use multiple concepts when deciding what style to you want. Not every concept will make the cut and that's alright! | Source

Construction and Stress testing your cosplay

As soon as you get the materials, you can commence the construction phase. Once you get the basics put together, periodically try it on to see how it fits. Repeat the process until you are ready for stress testing.

When you stress test your cosplay, you want to look for durability, accuracy and comfort. If all requirements are met, do a simple photo shoot to see how you look from different perspectives.

These tips go for props as well. You want your props to be light weight, easy to carry around and simple to transport.

Fitting and testing

Beautifly formal humanized cosplay featuring J. McColmbs
Beautifly formal humanized cosplay featuring J. McColmbs | Source

Stress Testing and Con Ready

Leaf Green Trainer, Tekkoshocon 2015
Leaf Green Trainer, Tekkoshocon 2015 | Source

Hotel and Transportation

Something you want to take into consideration is whether or not you need a hotel. If you are coming from a decent distance away, don't have friends in the area or just looking for a weekend away, you might want to consider getting a hotel. You can use several different hotel search engines to decide what is closest, cheapest and offers plenty of amenities to make your weekend enjoyable. Try Expedia, Orbit, Kayak or any other vacation planning site.

Those engines aren't just great for finding hotels, they also help finding ways to get there. If you and a group of friends are planning to fly out or take a train or even drive combine total cost and divide by the number of people in your group. This is great for travel and your hotel cost.

If you plan to drive, carpooling is a great way to save money for everyone. Those in the group can help pay for gas, parking if you can't get free parking anywhere. Don't forget to include how you intend to maneuver through the convention city. You will need to figure out if you will walk, drive or take public or convention transit systems.


When packing, you want to know what you should and shouldn't with you.

Think about the weather again. The only reason you would be outside of the convention center is if you are going to or from your hotel, out for a cigarette, or to go get food from local food vendors. There may be other reasons that will come in to play to cause you to go outside but that's ok. As long as you pack for the elements you should be alright.

You want to start by packing your cosplay or cosplays. This way you know you have it with you. Next, make sure you have comfortable shoes for the weekend. You will be walking around quite a bit for the weekend.

Make sure you have the make up you need for your cosplay(s) is packed up and ready to go. You may want to bring your hair products as well to assist with hair for cosplays or to hide under your wig if you have one for your cosplay.

Remember to include a smaller bag to carry around the convention. This will help when walking around because you want to take water to stay hydrated, snacks to keep blood sugar regulated, keep from making yourself sick or if you just get hungry at the convention. Having a bag will also be useful for when you go to purchase some items at the convention's dealer area. Also keep cosplay repair kits in your bag, medication you might need, as well as your wallet do if your cosplay does not have pockets.

Due to the physical activity too will endure for the weekend, you will sweat and you will stink. So be sure to pack your shampoo, body wash, and whatever you need to get clean. If you are at a hotel, the shampoo, conditioner and body wash they provide is either not enough or can effect someone's skin and scalp different. Also remember toothpaste and toothbrush. You will meet a lot of people during the weekend and if you don't want to smell someone's bad breath, why would you want someone to smell yours?

Remember to bring extra clothing. You might not want to wear your cosplay all weekend, so why only wear your cosplay? Also don't forget socks and underwear. For the same reason as to why you shower, clean under garments will keep you from feeling gross. And include at least a single pair of pajamas. This way you can sleep comfortably.

Lastly, you want to take one thing in particular. Your cellphone. If you are with a group, get lost in the city or need to keep in contact with someone for any reason, your cellphone will help out. And with the technology of today, don't worry about a camera! However, if you would rather use an actual camera, then pack it. But don't forget your chargers. Both of those will become obsolete if you forget.

I hope this all helps you out when planning your trip to a convention!


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