You never know when you’re going to be someone else’s superhero! With huge crowds, conventions have many problems with the Bystander Effect, so if you see something unsavory, speak up! Whether it’s a cosplayer being harassed, a drunk reveler who can’t find their friends, or even just a lost newbie, resist the urge to think “It’ll all work out! They don’t need me.” You never know until you step in (politely). It is especially important that women look out for other women, since con harassment is unfortunately targeted mostly towards women.
The real world still operates outside of the Con Bubble. Keep your eyes up and away from your cell phone screen (chances are, signal will be terrible anyway). Don’t play Frogger on the street-- you don’t want your party to be cut short with a hospital bill. Stick with friends late at night or in unfamiliar territory. If you’re driving into the con, event parking scams can be prevalent in some areas; plan ahead where you want to park, and if that lot is full or inaccessible, find a lot/deck with an automatic in-out system -- even if it’s more expensive.
Travel in pairs or a group
Safety in numbers is pretty much a no-brainer, but it is not always easy to stay with a group in the large crowds. Plan a rallying point if you all get separated, keep an eye out for one another, and leave no geek behind!
If you do go off to a panel or party or especially a hook-up alone, make sure at least one other (sober) person knows where you are, your phone is charged, and you check in with each other. Oh, and since phone batteries tend to die quickly at a Con -- know someone’s phone number by heart or write it down somewhere safe for an emergency!
Take a break
Fatigue will weaken your immune system, your stamina, and your decision-making skills. Eat enough food to sustain you and get plenty of rest. All of the panels and events are going to sound interesting, but plan realistically-- for a big convention, you might only be able to hustle to two events safely and sanely. You don’t need to break yourself to have a fun time at a convention-- there will be another con next year. Plus, how much fun are you REALLY going to have when you’re hungry, sleepy, and your left foot is killing you?
Partying is a major part of nearly every convention; who doesn’t want to enjoy an adult beverage with Chewbacca and a Sexy Pikachu? However, the occasional villain might be out to ruin your night, so don’t accept strange booze and keep your eye on your drink at all times. Remember, the most popular drug used to taint drinks is More Alcohol. Always have an exit plan, and stick with friends. Real friends, not your line buddies who’ll ditch your drunk ass to go to the next ragin’ room party in a hotel three blocks away.
If there is a capital-S Situation, find the nearest convention staff member or police officer. Convention staff can deal with the problem or quickly escalate it to the appropriate people. This goes ESPECIALLY for any medical emergency. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when it’s needed-- you might save a life.
Have fun (and safe!) conventions, everyone!