While brainstorming about posts I could write in anticipation of PAX East, I realized that I have a weird habit when it comes to conventions: I usually end up attending them alone. Sure, I’ll show up with a group or share accommodations with a bunch of people, but when it comes to my day to day schedule I’m 100% on my own. Part of this is due to the fact that Rick hates crowds and lines, so conventions are pretty much hell for him, and the fact that I tend to end up working at PAX, making my schedule rather unpredictable.
I realize the thought of attending a convention on your own can be pretty darned scary to a lot of you, so I figured I’d take a minute and share some of my best tips and tricks for solo conventioneering.
The Pros of Soloing a Convention
1. Your schedule is your schedule! – No need to synchronize watches or frantically check cell phones to see where everyone’s at. You wanna do something at the spur of the moment? Go for. Ain’t nobody gonna tell you not to. Change your mind about something? No need to check in and make sure everyone’s on the same page.
2. No sitting through panels or sessions you have no interest in. – Granted, sometimes following a friend to some panel only they’re interested in can open you up to a whole new fandom or way of looking at things, but if you get there and realized it’s just not ever gonna be your cup of tea, soloing a convention means you can duck out the back midway without offending anyone.
3. Come and go as you please. – Feel like a nap after an hour? Just head back to the hotel. No need to wait for so and so to finish their purchases, or for them to finish breakfast so you can get to the con. Leaving you way more time to do and see the things you’re actually interested in.
4. You can totally be that weirdo that talks to vendors for hours without judgement. – Well, I guess there are still other attendees who might judge you, but you don’t know them so who cares?
5. You can make tons of new friends! – Take this opportunity to break out of your usual shell and just start talking to random strangers. You’re all at the same convention, so must have at least something in common. Lines get boring on your own. Find the other single weirdos and make friends.
Now, onto the stuff that will make your life easier when you solo a con:
What to Pack When You Solo a Con
1. Card Games – Remember that last point about making friends in lines? Having a fun activity to do with others while waiting is a great way to make friends and while away time. Also, you can find a lot of single player games if you’re feeling shy.
2. Snacks – Important for conventioneering in general, but also very good for using to make friends or just helping out people in general. Convention food is notoriously expensive and not very healthy, so a few nutritious snacks will go a long way to keeping you and your new friends happy.
3. Big comfy bag – Attending a convention solo does mean that you won’t have anyone you can enlist as a pack mule to carry any extraneous purchases, so make sure you have a good way of carrying around your stuff so you don’t have to leave empty handed.
That’s all I can think of for now. Do you like to solo conventions, or do you have a dedicated crew? Lemme know in the comments.