As many readers and listeners to our podcast know, we went to Dice Tower Con this year and had an absolute blast! It was also our first official con and, as with any new experience, we learned some things. As a stay-at-home mom, I see lots of mommy bloggers who are constantly handing out tips, tricks, and advice on their blog and I figured I could do my own sort of twist on this. Without much further ado, I give you my tips, tricks, and advice for attending a board game convention!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I feel like this should be read in an epic voice and so the best way to convey that is with gratuitous exclamation points.)
1. Double-check your airline’s carry-on policies
Some of you may not have to fly to the con. Good for you. Some of us do and with that, we have to be a little more careful. Mainly because there will be vendors and exhibitors at the con who will be selling games and these things take up room in luggage. Plus, if you put it in your checked bags, there is no guarantee that your game won’t get crushed in transit. Spencer travelled for work once and took a game with him and on his return flight, his entire bag was smashed to smithereens. Even his glasses and prescription medicine in his toiletry bag were ruined. Find out exactly what you are allowed to bring on the plane with you and plan accordingly. You’ll probably get a nice tote bag of some sort at the con. Maybe you can try and fit your games into that and it can be your carry on?
2. Get yourself a good backpack
Our backpack proved to be invaluable at the con. We carried a couple of small games in, but we also kept our itinerary, water bottles, snacks, phone chargers, and my jacket in there. More on this in the points to follow.
3. Take a jacket
DTC was in Orlando, Florida the first week of July. I knew it would be sweltering hot there. And don’t get me started on the humidity! But that also clued me in that the AC in the convention center would be on jack rabbit high, as my mother would say. I am so glad I took my jacket. There were times when it felt like a meat locker in there and I went and stood outside in the direct sunlight with my jacket still on so that I could thaw out. Bonus, I also tend to get cold on airplanes so my jacket was used a lot on this trip.
4. Bring a reusable water bottle
It was our plan to spend as much time as possible at the convention and to play as many games as we could. Doing this, it’s easy to plant yourself at a table in the play hall and stay there for hours. When you combine that with the temperature and humidity on the location we were in, you can actually get pretty dehydrated. No lie! It was really nice that this particular convention center kept water coolers out EVERYWHERE and they were constantly refilling them. This made it very easy and convenient to get up from the table and go refill my water bottle. Plus, it was a chance to get up and stretch my legs. Also, as a personal note, I prefer a water bottle with a flip-up straw. That way you don’t have to unscrew the top which also leads to a potential spill on the table.
5. Pack some food, dude!
You probably read Spencer’s post about a weight loss challenge. Well, DTC happened right in the middle of that. And we were both trying to slim down. Convention centers usually have some kind of concession stand where you can purchase meals, but we wanted to be careful of our spending (because those places can be expensive) and be conscious of our calorie in-take, so when we got there, we went to Walmart and bought protein bars, some snacks, and bananas. With this, we had midmorning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack covered. It saved us some money, we were able to eat these while we were playing, and we didn’t have to wait in line. Plus, it just worked perfectly for us. With this, we would leave the convention center for dinner and go to a restaurant. It gave us a break from gaming, we got to get out and breathe. Plus, we usually got someone else to come with us and we could have a good discussion away from the con. Also, it worked out that we were usually hitting happy hour so we still saved some money. 😀
6. Hand sanitizer and Airborne
Now this is one where I was lying down on the job, but you live and you learn. I want my daughters to be exposed to germs to build up natural immunity. Same for me, the things kids bring home from school nowadays…anyway, I do not carry hand sanitizer around with me on a regular basis but I will at the next con I go to. After two days, Spencer and I both started getting scratchy throats and runny noses. It never occurred to me that we would be checking out games from the library and demoing games that had been touched by 1,000+ other people! Spencer made a run to Walmart and bought some Airborne gummies for us both to take and they did the trick. Normally we use Emergen-C at home when we are aware of illness being spread or whatnot, but these gummies were much more convenient to have at the con. Plus, they are downright yummy!
7. Plan at least one thing away from the convention
This is just a personal thing and might not fit all of our readers, but I wanted one thing that was not board game related for us to do on this trip. It was our vacation without the girls, we were in Orlando, and I need breaks from board games. Spencer doesn’t feel that way, but he obliged me. We took one day to drive to the beach and spend a couple hours out there. It was absolutely wonderful. Fresh air, sunshine, refreshing water. We got to talk about ideas and brainstorm for the podcast and the blog based on what we saw and learned at the con. We had a nice dinner together and we even drove back to Orlando for a nice game of mini golf and some ice cream. It was a great way to wrap up the trip. Most conventions are in major cities with so much to explore. Do yourself a favor and go check out at least one thing that isn’t related to the con.
That’s all I’ve got. Have you been to a con and learned something I might not have included on my list? Let us know! I sure hope these help some of you who are heading out to your first convention. Have fun, post pics, and game on!