Adventures Geek Life

How To Solo A Convention

How To Solo a Convention | Gamerwife.com

How To Solo a Convention | Gamerwife.com
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.

First off:

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.

You Might Also Like

36 Comments

  • Reply
    susanpatrick
    April 6, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Awesome! Most of my con attending has been solo, including NYCC. My 3DS is my line activity/icebreaker of choice. I also make a point of carrying around snacks because a) I don’t have to plan meal breaks with anyone and b) sharing is caring ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 6, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      I love that you have selfish and altruistic reasons for carrying snacks. And yes, a portable gaming system is also a great way to kill time and potentially spark conversation.

  • Reply
    rolfdebbie
    April 6, 2016 at 9:10 am

    I go solo often at cons as well! I usually have at least 1 fully charged external battery for my cell, two if I’m on top of things. If I’m alone it means I’m using my phone a lot more too ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 6, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Oh yeah! Extra cell batteries are total life savers at conventions. Great tip!

  • Reply
    B
    April 6, 2016 at 9:10 am

    I do a mix! Sometimes our schedules match up, and other times they don’t! I agree it’s nice to make friends with those around you, especially at a con like SDCC. You’ll need that line buddy to “save” your spot in line when you have to run the bathroom! LOL

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 6, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      I like a mix too, or at least I’ll try to make dates with people I know will be around if I’m starved for conversation and I’m feeling too shy to talk to strangers. Also, you make a very good point. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    Stephanie Medeiros
    April 6, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Ah yes, the time old tradition of “I don’t really want to sit in on that panel about the history of yarn in film” and then eventually splitting the party. I’ll usually wander off on my own and just tell people to text or call me, I’ve had my most fun adventures while by myself at a con–ran into Jason Momoa, made friends with a local artist, etc. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 6, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      That’s awesome! While wandering in a daze by myself at Mtl Comiccon last year I ran into Michael Rooker and Sean Gunn.

  • Reply
    kaycreate
    April 6, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    I think I’d really enjoy a solo day. While I’m quite shy, I don’t really have problems with crowds. Solo, I can choose if I want to talk to anybody or just stay in my own little bubble! And as you said, if I feel overwhelmed, I can duck out on my own terms. Great tips!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 6, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks! There’s something very liberating about navigating a space on your own, and again, you control how much you want to engage or not.

  • Reply
    Nagareboshi
    April 6, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    I used to go alone all the time. It’s alright, though sometimes I did wish I had a friend there to share a funny moment with. ^^

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 6, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      Yeah, nothing worse than laughing while elbowing a total stranger who looks at you like you’re crazy. ;p

  • Reply
    Jessica | OhHeyJess.com
    April 6, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    This is an awesome post. I went to my first con alone last year in November and I had so much fun. I walked around at my own pace and enjoyed it so much!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 6, 2016 at 10:21 pm

      Thanks, Jess. I think conventions are actually a really good place to try being on your own because there’s tons of stuff to do and see, but you’re also surrounded by like-minded people. It’s like being alone together, but in a good way.

  • Reply
    Dina Farmer
    April 7, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    I’m so weird. I feel so uncomfortable at a con by myself. I’ve gone to two and I just didn’t manage to have a good time. I think because I’m a chatty person and as such I felt alone going by myself.

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 8, 2016 at 11:07 am

      I’m sure you’re in the majority here. I usually just end up chatting at strangers who probably just want me to go away, but oh well.

  • Reply
    Fiona
    April 7, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    I’ve never actually been to a con *gasp* but I like all your points and it made me think of solo traveling and the freedom to construct the adventure exactly how you want too!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 8, 2016 at 10:59 am

      Yeah, I also love travelling solo from time to time, but poor Rick gets so lonely I feel bad.

  • Reply
    patriciaaworley
    April 8, 2016 at 4:25 am

    This was nice to read because I ALWAYS feel like the only soloist—I just don’t have any friends who gang up and go to cons!!! I might actually start going again this year…I seriously stopped because I never have anyone to go with.

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 8, 2016 at 10:58 am

      To be honest, I was really surprised by the outpouring of reactions to this post. I also felt like I was the only weirdo who didn’t show up at a convention with a posse of friends. Yay for solo con goers!

  • Reply
    Nyanla la geekette
    April 8, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Great post!
    I usually go to cons with my boyfriend and it’s true that sometimes we want to do different stuff scheduled at the same time and we have to compromise. Never did the solo stunt, although what I would love to do one day is to prepare a group cosplay or be a part of a themed group with a bunch of strangers in love with the same fandom… That might be unforgettable!

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 8, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      A giant group cosplay would be amazing. And that reminds me, cosplay is another great way to meet people when you solo a con. The first time I ever cosplayed made a bunch of friends based just on my costume, and even got invited to a special party because the woman doing the inviting was cosplaying the same character.

  • Reply
    Isabel Gutierrez (@GeekSideShowing)
    April 8, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    I have mostly gone solo (SDCC, FanExpo Canada, & NYCC) to cons & have found it to be less stressful than when I tried going with a group. When I first started going to cons, it was very hectic to get a group coordinated enough to make it happen. A couple years ago, I figured that if I enjoyed traveling solo, that going to the con would be just as great. Having control of my schedule is a huge plus, especially because I can get tired easily due to my fibromyalgia & I don’t have to feel like I am bailing on others if I need to go recharge my battery midday. I’m not opposed to going in a group in the future, as long as we have a mix of schedule together time & solo time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 8, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      Yeah, I often to go to cons where I know other solo friends will be so that I can get a little buddy time if I need it, but then also go off and do my own thing if I need to.

  • Reply
    cuteek
    April 9, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    I just went to my first con TODAY! Albeit it was tiny and was held in the village square but it was something! I really like your tips. I could see myself enjoying a con alone only because I’m annoying as hell as I dragged my poor Fiancรฉ round the stalls at least 5 times this afternoon LOL.

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 11, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Haha. Glad to hear you had fun at your FIRST con! That’s quite the milestone. And yeah, my hub has a very short attention span so he usually gets left at home.

  • Reply
    *Mandy*
    April 9, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    I liked going to my first con with then boyfriend, but I’m looking forward to attending my next con with my bestie, though I think we’re going to be sitting in different parts of the room, so it’s kinda like I’m going to be solo, haha. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 11, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Hehe. At least you’ll be within texting range, right?

  • Reply
    Natalie Patalie (@natalie_patalie)
    April 12, 2016 at 12:42 am

    Love this! It drives me crazy when people just don’t go to things because they don’t want to do it alone. Like you said there are some major perks to going to cons alone! I’m not sure if I’d do a long-distance con by myself, though. But if I’m only staying for the day then why not?

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 12, 2016 at 11:31 am

      Yeah, soloing a long-distance con is a little different, but I’m usually that annoying person at the back of the plane (bus, etc.) chatting with the person next to them the whole way so I usually make do.

  • Reply
    Danielle @ From Girlie to Nerdy
    April 12, 2016 at 8:36 am

    I’m doing my first Con ever solo this year and I’m nervous. Social anxiety is kicking in, but I know I need to do my best to make some cool new friends – thanks for the tips ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 12, 2016 at 11:30 am

      No problem. And don’t worry. You’ll have a blast!

  • Reply
    Jane Y.
    April 14, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Love these tips! I have always gone to cons with Yangkyu (who I feel most comfortable) and a few friends who are so new to cons and things and so they they rather just follow us along to everything so it ended up working out every time. But I do remember asking if everyone was ok to attend such panel or should we eat not? just checking in to see if everyone was cool. it was ok but when you described the whole you are on your schedule deal that sounded super attractive. ๐Ÿ™‚ i wish cons were dog friendly! or at least dog friendly to dogs inside carriers? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 14, 2016 at 10:43 am

      I’m sure there must be pet friendly cons somewhere. Have you ever been to Woofstock? It’s like a convention for dogs, although it’s mostly outdoors, which I guess makes sense.

  • Reply
    sparklegirljen
    April 16, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    This is a great post. I’ve never attended a convention alone. Though, since I’m usually selling my wares in artist alley, I tend to wander around alone. I have to leave someone watching my table so a lot of times it’s just me. There’s something super enjoyable about it. I can take my time looking at tables and booths and can slip in between crowds.

    • Reply
      Mariko
      April 19, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      That’s usually my story too, and despite having to stick to a booth most of the time makes those solo jaunts all the more enjoyable.

    Penny for your thoughts...