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Otakon 2009: The Advice/Survival Thread!

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Taking a page from the Newbie Guide...

There was a similar thread like this for Otakon 2008, and with the con being five months away I thought it was a good time for a thread like this. I find it pretty useful as a con tip/survival guide and wish I had read one my first Otakon ever.

So if this year is going to be your first Otakon or con in general, I hope this thread helps.

So on the other side of the coin, if you have advice/tips for first time con-goers please post!

But please keep it on-point!

So, I guess I'll start.

For the record: This isn't me as a staffer telling you guys you HAVE to do this. This is all advice/tips based on personal experience/ others' experiences, etc. You don't have to prescribe to this advice, but I like to think it certainly is useful stuff to know.

-Firstly, and this what I and everyone else tends to stress. DRINK. WATER. A. LOT. No. Seriously. I didn't the first year and ended up horribly sick with dehydration most of Saturday. It was not fun. It is very hot and humid in Baltimore and with all the moving around and stuff you'd be amazed at how quickly it catches up with you. Please stay hydrated! Fainting isn't fun!

- Make sure to try and eat. Don't starve yourself! If you're on a budget, pack sandwiches or something but please try and eat at the least two square meals a day. You need food to fuel yourself in all the crazy-hectic fun. And a bag of Doritos sadly does not a meal make.

- If you are with a group and you plan on splitting up or get split up, decide beforehand on somewhere to meet up such as your hotel. I've found it sometimes hard to hear my cell phone ring at con so I used to make a meet-up place.

- Which brings me to - sometimes you CANNOT hear your cell phone ring, and I have a loud ringtone. I generally put my phone on vibrate when in the BCC because while I can't always hear it, I can feel if it vibrates (no dirty jokes plskthx!). Also, sometimes if you go into a panel/screening you might forget to turn off your ringer.

- READ THE OTAKON BOOKLET YOU GET WHEN YOU GET YOUR BADGE. It is your BEST FRIEND. It has rules/regulations/tips/the Ever Labyrinth Like Map of the BCC, the Hotel/Food map, schedule, etc.

- Research the area beforehand. Otakon is at the Baltimore Con Center and in the Inner Harbor Area. If you've never been to the area, I always find it a good idea to Google it beforehand to see what's around. There's a lot of cool places to go for food/shopping at the Inner Harbor, and its definitely something to do if you get in on Thursday. I also, and this is me, I like researching places to eat and knowing how to get there so I know my way around before I even get to a place and also there ended up being places around the BCC I didn't know were there before I Google'd them.

- Bring band-aids, aspirin, etc. You never know if you'll need them and its better safe than sorry.

- Budget accordingly! Figure how much you want to spend in the Dealer's Room, how much for travel, if you need $$ for hotel, and food. Sometimes its easy to accidentally overspend in the DR, so knowing beforehand what you got to work with can help defend against Crap! I Spent All My Money And It's Only Friday! Syndrome. Sometimes it's also good to have some extra emergency $$ just in case.

- Use caution when walking around the area. Stay in groups and do not walk alone at night!! Unfortunately, there's been instances in the past that really really make this point one to be stressed. We want you to have fun but also be safe!

- Please familiarize yourself with Convention Policies. The staff takes them seriously and I have come across the occasional con-goer who wasn't aware of them and was in turn violating them unknowingly. Again, we want you to have fun, but also be safe.

I myself am very hardcore over the Weapons Policy, especially that if you buy a weapon in the Dealer's Room you MUST take it to your hotel/home/whatever and out of the BCC immediately.

Please, please read the policies beforehand.

- While meeting new people is fun and exciting, also use caution. My group and I had an instance our first Otakon where someone also going to the con saw my friend's Miroku staff and basically followed us to our room Thursday in the guise of "helping unpack" but sort of made us squicked out because he was a stranger and wouldn't leave right away and sort of stalked our group most of the weekend and were very uncomfortable. While I've also met a lot of great people in the process, there's also, unfortunately, a caution factor to be applied.

- If you are going to Cosplay, remember this - while there is generally adequate air conditioning in the BCC, it is still VERY humid and hot outside so please remember this when deciding on Cosplay. One of my friends who wore an Appa costume was having borderline heatstroke all weekend last year.

- The restaurants of Baltimore know when we're in town, they appreciate our business, and are always accomodating to us. Sometimes it's frustrating to wait so long to be seated, but mostly, don't be surprised if you find at some places there's a long wait, especially at the Inner Harbor. There are a LOT of us there that weekend. Try to keep that in mind and be patient.

- Remember to get some sleep! There is a lot that goes on, but sleep is important as well and running on no sleep isn't fun at all.

- Remember personal hygiene! There is a lot to do at con, but please take the time to bathe! Don't fall into the Dreaded Ota-Funk Trap!

I'm blanking on anything else....

Any other advice/tips?

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Mountain Dew and Cheetos do not count as a meal, make sure that you get veggies, protein and carbs so that you can keep going without passing out.

+1 on the water, I use a camelbak that holds 100 oz of water and I usually go through at least 4 of them in a day at con. If you don't keep yourself hydrated you will hate life and the con will suck.

<mod mode> I'm going to pin this awesome thread so that it doesn't get lost as we get closer to con since it's...well...awesome </mod mode>

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Thank you Matt.


-If you see something at con of concern that should be brought to Staff attention, please don't hesitate to let a staffer know. If you don't see a staffer nearby, let the Info Desk know.

- Unless you have permission from Staff, please don't use the Elevators at the BBC.

- You will notice there's a Starbucks kiosk in the BCC. It tends to be pretty busy so if you don't mind the walk, as far as I last knew there's a Starbuck's attached to the Raddisson hotel that tends to be not as busy. And if are staying in the Raddisson, well there you go.

- There is a Rite Aid down Baltimore Street (the street the Raddisson is on) near where the McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts are. This is a very good place to stock up on drinks/snacks/toiletries/whatever. It used to be across from the Raddisson, but it and a lot of other businesses moved further down the street towards the harbor.

- Er...don't be surprised sometimes if Dunkin Donuts on Light Street (i believe?) does run out of donuts by noon Saturday. It REALLY happened in 2007. I was there. It was epic. Not that it will totally 100% happen. I'm just saying...it's possible.

- Be nice to the Baltimore locals. They tend to generally be really nice to us.

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There's actually a thread like this in the General Discussions forum --> /index.php?showtopic=2448">http://board.otakon.com/index.php?showtopic=2448

It hasn't been posted to recently because it's pretty extensive, and the discussion was going in circles. But if you read through it and notice something missing, please feel free to add to it.

I'm going to go ahead and lock this one - please use the other one if you have any need to add anything that hasn't been said.

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