Rules For Surviving DragonCon

In just a couple days we will hit the road and head up to Atlanta for DragonCon. This event, for those not familiar, is the east coast’s largest sci-fi and comic book convention. It takes place ever year at the four largest hotels in downtown Atlanta and it is always Labor Day Weekend. Every flavor of geekery and science you can imagine can be found here.

This year will be my sixth (seventh?) DragonCon. I consider myself a Con veteran. I survive every year relatively unscathed aside from minor exhaustion. So here are a few things I’ve learned from my years in the trenches: not only at DragonCon but other cons as well.

Live by the 3-2-1 Rule:

Three hours of sleep a night

Two meals a day

One shower a day – trust me, a deodorant fail in a cramped elevator or enclosed room is NOT something you want to be a part of.

Bring a light backpack. Not only is it useful for picking up free shwag buttons but you can carry your pocket program with you. I also highly suggest packing a few PB&J sandwiches, some cookies and a bottle of water to nibble on between panels. It may not seem like it but you ARE expending lots of energy.

Three hours of sleep is the absolute minimum. Try to get more if you can BUT as the old saying goes, “It’s DragonCon. You can sleep when you’re dead.”.

Wash your hads a couple times a day too and carry hand sanitizer. Con Crud spreads like wildfire and trust me, you do NOT want Con Crud.

Get in on Thursday if you can and leave Tuesday morning. It is SO much less stressful than trying to check in on Friday with the 20,000 other people at the same exact time. If you stay at least through Monday you get to see me do my presentation at 10 am Monday in Skeptic Track. Not a rule, i know, but I REALLY don’t want to be talking to just the tech and my hubby. He’s heard my presentation already.

Take pictures. Take LOTS of pictures. Because you only see stuff like this once a year.

If something is a major event, get there at LEAST an hour early. For some panels you may actually have to line up as soon as the previous one starts. Last year when William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy did their talk we were up at 6 am and in line by 6:30 and we were STILL four rows back in the big hall. If you want to see Masquerade, line up as early as you possibly can. Duck Dodgers is the anual tradition while the judges are deliberating so be prepared to bellow at the top of your lungs “DUCK DODGERS IN THE 24TH AND A HALF CEN-TU-RY!!!” every time Dodgers yells it.

Plan ahead. When you get your pocket guide, which is available at the DragonCon website now, decide ahead of time what panels and workshops you want to  do and see. It makes it easier than trying to decide on the fly. Remember, there is lots of navigating to do to get where you need to go and only 15 minutes between panels. That’s JUST enough time to get from the Hilton to the Sheraton.

Do bring costumes. Lots of people dress up and the big day for costumes is Saturday. I’m bringing two this year: my steampunk costume and my belly dance outfit.

Most importantly, have fun! This is a fantastic event with something for everyone. Even if you’re not so much for the sci-fi, there’s also the Science Track, the Skeptic Track and the Podcast Track. Last year I learned how and why the Large Hadron Collider isn’t going to kill us all at the science track. So there’s something for everyone.


1 Comment

  1. dcphotohunt said,

    September 1, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Keeping PB&J and snacks with you is great advice. I tend to get hypoglycemic at the con… having something to snack on is a must for sustaining energy! And it’s WAY cheaper than the overpriced goodies they sell at the hotels. 😉

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