Planning PAX East

My friend JayRain and I have been looking forward to attending PAX East 2013 since PAX East 2012 was over. We actually suffered from PWD – PAX Withdrawal Disorder – for days, if not weeks, after it was over.

When the 2013 passes went on sale, we bought ours IMMEDIATELY. We WERE NOT going to miss out on three day passes, and we didn’t – triumph! She, her fiance, me, and my husband all scored three day passes. We were able to get another friend to buy a three day pass shortly after. As time went on, we kept telling people “Passes are getting low… Three days are sold out… Saturday passes are sold out…” and so on.

However, JayRain and I continued our planning. JayRain booked a hotel room. We planned our costumes. We (not-so-) patiently waited for the schedule to come out.

In watching the scrambles, though, that some of our friends have both gone through or have put us through, we’ve compiled a list of things people should know when it comes to planning a trip to a convention.

Me and JayRain with David Gaider, lead writer of Dragon Age games, 2012

Me and JayRain with David Gaider, lead writer of Dragon Age games, 2012

1) If you want to go, buy your pass early. If you THINK you want to go, buy your pass early. If you DON’T want to go, but there’s the slightest chance that you could change your mind two weeks before, buy your pass early. If you decide not to go, you can scalp it online for some absurd amount of money.

2) Book your hotel the same day you buy your pass. Seriously. You WILL find people to share the room with.

3) If you’re driving, be sure you calculate parking at the hotel (and at the convention if you have to drive over from the hotel) into your weekend budget. Most hotels in Boston take advantage of the fact they’re in Boston and charge around $40/night. If you have to drive over to the convention center and park there, you’ll be paying another $10 every time you go in. If it’s raining, spring for the valet at the convention center. You won’t regret it. JayRain knows this from experience.

4) BRING FOOD. You will go broke if you buy everything you eat at the convention center. Plan ahead. Reusable water bottles, snacks, lunch, whatever. Last year, we packed our lunches and brought them in. Best. Decision. Ever. Also, PLEASE stay hydrated and energized. Last year there was an incident where someone actually passed out on the show floor because they were dehydrated and malnourished.

5) Along the same lines as#4: Make sure you eat a good breakfast. You’ll need this for energy throughout the day. Many of the hotels will offer a free continental breakfast so make sure you check that out if you are staying overnight. If not, eat before you walk through the door. See my note about the cost of food. There are plenty of restaurants and diners in the Boston area that will offer breakfast as well. Don’t worry about not making it to the convention center at 10AM sharp. You will have PLENTY of time throughout the day to check things out.

7) Bring a bag/backpack you don’t mind lugging around all day. Minimize the amount of stuff you bring in, because you will be getting free stuff. If you don’t NEED your laptop/netbook/tablet, with you, don’t bring it to the center. It will get heavy. I know this from experience.

8) Make sure you are WELL RESTED. This event is VERY tiring so its good to have as much energy as possible. I will be a Cranky McCrank-Pants if I don’t get enough sleep. You do NOT want Cranky McCrank-Pants ruining your day.

9) Wear comfortable shoes. You will be doing miles upon miles upon miles of walking without even realizing it. I learned this last year the hard way. My costume boots were NOT the most comfortable for all the walking I did. I saw people walking around in sandals or heels and I even saw some people walking around barefoot. Not only is that going to be uncomfortable, but the bare feet is completely unhygienic.Unless you want blisters the size of the convention center, wear comfortable shoes.

10) If you’re not cosplaying, wear comfortable clothing. Even though its the winter time and will likely be very cold outside I recommend wearing a tee shirt. It could be -20 degrees and snowing outside but it could be 100 degrees in the convention center. I made this mistake last year. You will NOT need a sweatshirt. I was sweating in the first few hours. They have baggage and coat checks in the convention center so you can wear a heavy jacket for the cold weather outside and then leave it there until you leave at night. They are very good with the coat checks as well and they are very cheap.

11) I don’t really feel like I should mention this, but wear deodorant, shower, don’t overload on the cologne/perfume/body spray. There are a lot of people there, and no one wants to smell you. We’re all pretty hardcore if we’re going to this Con, but NONE of us are THAT hardcore.

12) Plan for what you want to see, but be flexible. Sometimes, the panels are just not as good as you want them to be, or you meet people and want to hang out with them, or it’s almost time for the floor to close, and you HAVE to buy that set of dice before you leave.

13) Have fun! PAX is an amazing event where you will be surrounded by THOUSANDS of people who share the same passion for games that you do. Talk to people, get involved with tournaments, experience new things that you normally wouldnt think you would enjoy. Make up some quick buisness cards ahead of time that you can hand out to the new people you meet with your gamertags, facebook links, etc.

So there you have it. There are our tips for PAX East Survival. Take them or leave them. Do you have any that you would add?

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