Con season is upon us, and for some, it’s an opportunity to see all of the people whom we haven’t seen since last con season. While for others, it’s an opportunity to branch out and meet new people who share similar interests to us.
Whatever the case may be, I’m going to be listing 10 tips to help you navigate con season when you don’t have an established crew. While there are many benefits to attending a con with friends, going alone also has its merits, so don’t be discouraged! It’s NOT always dangerous to go alone. There are exceptions to that rule.
1. Stay Local
You definitely don’t have to stay local, but it sure makes attending a con by yourself a lot easier. You won’t have to worry about expensive plane tickets and hotel rooms, and you can even stay at home (for free) and commute to the con each day! If it’s a con that you really want to attend, and it’s out-of-state, by all means go, but know that it’s going to take a lot more effort on your behalf. Locally conning is also great because if you’re not really feeling the energy at the con that day, you can go home and try again tomorrow!
2. Map Out Your Con Journey
We live in a time where we don’t have to be surprised by the events going on at a con. Honestly, most people decide whether or not they’re even going to a con based off of who and what will be there. So, sometime before the con, you should make it a point to log onto the con’s website (or app for bigger cons) and plan out what events you’re going to be attending. Look up panels that interest you. Find out which guests you’d be interested in seeing. Check out who’s going to be in the Artists Alley. And even figure out where you’re going to be eating (especially if you have dietary restrictions)!
Mapping out your con journey in advance will save you tons of stress and help you enjoy your con a lot more! And if you keep your schedule full, you’ll hardly even notice that you’re alone! Also be a little bit flexible with your schedule because things do happen and sometimes panels sound more interesting on paper, so always have an escape plan!
3. Keep Your HP Up
Take care of yourself. You don’t have healer (i.e. someone to remind you to eat every so often) in your party, so be smart about things. Bring a water bottle and some of your favorite snacks. You never know when hunger might strike at a con, and you don’t want said hunger to cause you to lose your spot in line to meet your favorite voice actor ever. You also don’t want it to cause you to pass out, ending your con experience prematurely. So please eat at the con. Your body depends on it!
And I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Hotels have the best ice, and when that ice melts…BAM! Water. So please don’t starve alone at a con. There’s no reason for that to ever be a thing. EVER.
4. Keep Your Phone’s HP Up
There is also no reason for your phone to die at a con. There are too many outlets, too many portable chargers, too many increased battery lives, and too many ways for your phone NOT to die. And if you get desperate enough, even asking someone for a little boost has always yielded me great results! Just don’t let your phone die, please.
Another reason why it’s very important to keep your phone charged as a solo attendee is to help people keep tabs on you. Before you go to the con, decide on someone to check in with or at least make it a point to tweet or update your Snapchat story every so often., so that people know you’re alive. That way, everyone who isn’t there that cares about you will know that you’re safe because sometimes, cons can be dangerous places!
5. Stand In Line
This might sound boring, but for someone attending a con alone, this can be the best advice ever. Everyone knows how powerful spending a significant amount of time around other people can be, and while you’re queuing up to meet the entire cast of Black Panther, I can guarantee you that you’re going to be in for at least a minimum of a 2-hour wait. In that time, it’d be in your best interest to make friends with the people around you because you don’t want to waste your phone’s battery for 2 hours reading random threads on Reddit.
So pull out a game, whether it be Mario Kart on your Switch, Exploding Kittens, or Uno (or maybe not Uno if you’re trying to make friends) and invite other folks to join you! I promise you the wait time will fly and by the end of it all, you’ll have made some new friends as well!
6. Dress In Your Best Fandom Garb
Never forget why you’re attending the con in the first place! You wanted to meet people with similar interests to yours and also attend events that were relevant to those interests. And a very easy way to do that is to wear a t-shirt or cosplay from you favorite fandom. Or, you could even wear a button from your fandom if you’re more subtle. No matter what you wear, it’ll make a great conversation starter, and you’ll end up meeting people who like the same things as you.
So attend panels and events that you enjoy, and I promise you, people with similar interests will also gravitate towards those events. So just be yourself, and everything else should fall right into place!
7. Venture To The Artists Alley
Notice I didn’t say buy things, although it’s kind of hard not to when there are so many beautiful things in one room! But be strong. Instead, use the Artists Alley as a networking tool. Stop by each and every booth and chat with the artists, even if you don’t have any money. Sometimes, they just want to talk to you about their passion projects and get feedback. And it doesn’t cost money to do that.
Be mindful, of course, of people actually purchasing things from the vendors, and don’t get in the way of that either. But definitely venture over to the Artists Alley because the worst thing that could happen is that you walk out with more knowledge than you had when you entered!
8. Put Yourself Out There
You’ve already made the first big step by deciding to attend a con alone, so take it a step further by putting yourself ALL the way out there! Try out karaoke. Accept that invitation back to that (not sketchy, use your common sense) person’s hotel room. Go to that concert. Just put yourself out there! It’s a lot easier to meet people when you already have something in common. The first thing being that you’re both at the con, and the second one being that you’re both at the same events at the con.
So step outside of your shell for a little bit and try things that you’d never imagined you would. People are a lot more open at cons, and you’ll be able to start random conversations with ease, from bartenders to popular cosplayers to random hotel guests!
9. Join The Con’s Party
This was actually how I got my start at cons. I volunteered the first couple of years, and I met tons of amazing people in the process! Plus, you get to attend the con for free, so it’s a win-win! The only downside to being a volunteer is that you might miss out on some of the events you are specifically interested in, but if you talk to your department, I’m sure something in your schedule can be worked out. And if you volunteer in a department that you’re really passionate about, you’re bound to have even more fun! So take your time when deciding where you want to volunteer because you’re going to be spending a significant part of your con there!
10. Meet Party Members on Social Media
I saved this tip for last because I wanted you to embrace your solitude, but if you can’t bear the thought of going to a convention where you know absolutely no one, get active on social media. We live in an era of hashtags and tagged searches. Look around in these tags for people attending the same conventions as you and try to form a relationship with them.
Don’t be pushy or creepy, but try to meet people who like similar things as you and who will also be in attendance at the con you’re going to. It’s a lot easier to meet up during the con if you feel like you already know the person, so start early and by the time the con hits, you’ll feel like you’re meeting up with your childhood BFF!
So hopefully, there were some tips in there that you can use to enhance your solo con experience! I enjoy going places alone, but I know for some people, it can be quite hard. Use some of these tips if you are trying the solo thing out this year, and hopefully, they bring you your best con experience yet!
If you have any other questions about attending a con alone, let me know in the comments. Or, if you have any other tips that you’d like to share, do that as well!
Do you like attending cons alone? Or do you prefer to go in groups? What do you like to do most at cons? Are you a hardcore panel attendee? Or do you like to hang out in the Dealers Room? I want to hear all about your con-going style, so let me know!