Convention Life: Con Prep, Con Crud, Con Drop

I’ve talked a lot about Conventions this past year and I’ve got one more set of important topics to touch on. You might hear some of these terms from seasoned con-goers:

  • Con Prep
  • Con Crud
  • Con Drop

The last two, especially, are things you’ll hear regular con-goers talk about. Prep is just really what happens before a convention and can vary, depending on the type of con you’re going to and the level of immersion (ie — cosplay) you’re looking for.

Con Prep

My staging area is significantly larger than this 🙂

When people think about prepping for an event, they often just think about packing. Maybe travel logistics. Certainly those are important things (we’ll touch on packing in a bit), but if you’re going to be doing fan, comic, or book/writing conventions regularly, there are some other things you’ll want to think about, as well.

When going to a new convention, you’re going to want to hop on Google Maps and check out the area around the con for restaurants. If you have the budget to eat out during the convention and there are suitable restaurants around the hotel, this will affect what you pack.

If there are no restaurants, you’ll want to try to bring a cooler with food, if possible, and/or a lot of good snacks that can live in bags for several hours. You may still want to bring these things, to some degree, even if there are restaurants. The ratio of eating in to eating out, just like at home, will depend a lot on your personal budget for the convention.

Speaking of money, note that most conventions have vendor rooms. These are magical places which will be hawking your favorite books, games, DVDs, comics, and even autographs from authors or stars that turn you into a huge fangirl/boy. Unless money sprouts from your ears, think about how much you’re willing to spend in the vendor room. Set a budget for yourself so that you will have money for your rent next month. 🙂

When you’re packing, you’ll want to make sure to remember some key items that you might not consider when you’re packing to go visit your folks, say. Things to think about bringing:

  • day bag: could be a fanny pack, a wrist bag, a messenger bag, a purse, whatever — I tend to prefer something small and light
  • hand sanitizer (more on this later)
  • pain meds: for headaches, body aches, etc.
  • personal meds
  • water bottle: most cons will have water stations with cups; it’s often more efficient and environmentally friendly to have your own bottle
  • snacks: particularly the sort that you can carry around in a bag
  • ear plugs: especially if you’re sharing a room with others, but it’s a good idea in general too, since hotel room walls can be thin and people in hotels tend to play their tv on max volume (why do people do this?)
  • immune system stuff (we’ll talk about this in a minute too)
  • books or other memorabilia you might want to have signed by convention guests
  • if you’re cosplaying, a small sewing kit (or whatever would be most effective if you have a wardrobe issue — hot glue gun, duct tape…)

Forgot my pants. Luckily, hubby wasn’t far away!

If this is a con that encourages cosplay and you’re going to be dressing up as your favorite Marvel character (or Game of Thrones or Doctor Who or whatever 🙂 ), make sure you’ve made a list of all your costume pieces and checked them off as you put them in your suitcase. You don’t want to be in the middle of getting dressed, then realize you left your pants at home (I say this from experience!). It’s a real disappointment if you’ve put all this time and energy into creating an amazing costume, but then can’t wear it because you don’t have all the pieces.

I mentioned immunity system stuff above. About two weeks before the convention, start taking something for your immune system. Some folks swear by Airborne; others love Vitamin C and Zinc. I use standardized Elderberry, myself. You want to bolster your immune system because conventions can be a lot like school in regards to germs. You’ve got a lot of people from all over in a somewhat confined place. Someone in that giant group will be sick, getting sick, or just getting over being sick. And those germs are gonna get passed around.

Another thing that will help your immune system pre-convention is to make sure you get enough sleep, enough food, and enough water in the weeks prior. This will set your body up for the crazy stressors of being at an event for 3-4 days — an event that can feature bad eating, half your usual sleep, and a ton of fun.

Con Crud

So what happens if your immune system doesn’t prevail over all the germs at the convention? Well, then you’ll likely end up with a case of Con Crud. It’s a mystery illness that usually shows up a week to two weeks after attending a convention.

Con crud – It’s not *usually* this bad 🙂

Keep taking your immune-boosting stuff throughout the con itself and for a week or two after. Even if you end up getting Con Crud, symptoms will likely be lessened if your immune system is stronger.

Con Crud can be anything, really. It might be the flu, the common cold, an infection of some other sort. Seriously, just about anything.

During the convention, you can use hand sanitizer and other things to help with the germs. A lot of people swear by them. Personally, I don’t use hand sanitizer, but it’s mostly because I’m terrible at remembering to use it! I pack it, then forget to put it in my bag. Or I put it in my bag and forget to take it out of my bag to use it. It’s just a lost cause for me. But I also believe that being exposed to some germs is good for the immune system because they cause it to work, rather than not work. So instead of hand sanitizer, I just wash my hands whenever I’m near a sink and let my body do the rest.

Whether you use hand sanitizer or not is entirely a personal call, just like what you decide to take to bolster the immune system itself (if you take anything at all!). It’s all down to personal risk management and no one else can make that decision for you. Try different things and see what works for you.

Con Drop

Okay, so you’ve come home from an amazing convention. You’ve unpacked and you’re back to work or school. Things are going along great! You’re telling fun stories about stuff you did to all your friends and talking them into going with you next year! And then, three days after you’ve come home, you’re super emotional, you’ve got all the feels, and you just cried during a Kleenex commercial. Wtf?

This is Con Drop. First, understand that it’s completely normal. Most people have some form of Con Drop, even if it’s mild, such as just being unmotivated to do anything productive.

Con Drop is a physiological reaction that often has emotional or psychological symptoms. Essentially, it’s the endorphins and other happy chemicals your body has been spewing out the last 3-5 days drying up. It’s the crash after the high.

Con Drop generally happens two to four days after the end of the convention. Some folks get it as early as 24 hours later, but I think most people get it right around the 3 day mark.

So how do you get rid of Con Drop? The bad thing is that you don’t. The good thing is that it usually only lasts 24-36 hours. So you won’t feel this crappy forever. Know that there’s an end.

The best way I’ve found to mitigate Con Drop is to simply be kind to myself. If you find yourself dropping, do things that you like, that bring you comfort. Read a book. Take a bubble bath. Go biking. Whatever brings you joy and comfort in the world, do those things for a while. And, again, know that this isn’t going to last forever. It’ll be over soon.


Hopefully you’ve gotten some good stuff out of this series! And hopefully you won’t let the idea of Con Crud or Con Drop keep you from heading out to a convention and enjoying the hell out of it!

If you missed the other posts I’ve done about Conventions, you can find them here:
Conventions 101: What Are They and How Do You Survive Them?
Con Season on a Budget: How to Volunteer at Your Favorite Convention
Con Season on a Budget: Being a Great Volunteer

Do you have questions or comments about any of this stuff or conventions in general? Drop them down below! 🙂

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

10 Comments

  • ketherian May 11, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Hi Venessa. Love the series!

    ConPrep, like packing for any event, is crucial. I live by my check-lists and inventories.

    Remember that if you’re travelling long distance to a convention, finding a handy corner store and a grocery store is key. The former for last-minute indulgent buys and the latter for picking up that bag of apples or oranges you can eat all weekend for cheap. Buying (and dividing up) the snacks on-site (or nearby the convention) is often cheaper and easier than trying to bring them with you if you have to fly or are expecting a long road-trip. One friend always brings hard boiled eggs and a bag of oranges to conventions. I bring apples, crackers, and peanut butter (or buy them locally) and tea bags, lots and lots of tea bags!

    Another great way to avoid ConCrud is to try never to touch your face during the convention without washing your hands first (or using hand sanitizer). Some folk can’t do it. Also, make it a habit to go to the washroom and wash your hands between ordering your food and having it arrive.

    ConCrud can really sneak up on you! Admittedly, working in a booth at a convention, we get coughed at, sneezed on, and of course, everyone wants to shake hands. You can really do the booth folk a solid by turning away (turn your face towards the floor) and sneezing down into your elbow and cover your cough with your forearm, not your hand.

    One old convention remedy I’ve heard for avoiding ConCrud is the big breakfast. After a good night’s sleep make sure you eat a full and hearty breakfast with as much fresh fruits and vegetables in it as you can manage. If you’re really busy at a convention, it might be your only real food until quite late at night. The big breakfast becomes more important as the convention goes on; so by day 2-3, it’s a must.

    ConDrop is pretty normal for folks who run (or work at) conventions. The real trick is to expect it to happen. Schedule some free time after the convention just to recover. I agree with your advice to schedule time to take care of yourself. After working for 3-4 days straight I certainly need a day before i can get back to my regular schedule. And no, if you have a day of travel before you get back home — that’s not the same as a day for yourself. Naturally the younger you are, the quicker you should recover — but everyone’s different.

    Reply
    • Venessa Giunta May 11, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      Thanks for the comment and the *great* suggestions and observations! I absolutely agree with not sneezing/coughing in people’s faces. (I am so disappointed that has to be talked about!)

      I like doing semi-local conventions particularly because I can bring food. One of my regular cons was at a hotel by the Atlanta airport and the restaurant was *crappy*. The only other food source was a chain sit-down restaurant across the street which was, of course, always packed. So I would just bring a cooler full of food (and dry ice to make my ice last the weekend), a crock pot, and lots of fruit/snacks.

      That con has since moved in-town, so now there are tons of good food options. I still pack a lot of snacks and lunchmeat, but I didn’t bring the crock pot this year! 🙂

      Reply
  • Nicole Taft May 11, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Huh. I’ve never heard of Con Drop. Or experienced it. Maybe I haven’t been to enough conventions? There’s only one I’ve gone to where I probably would have experienced it…if I hadn’t already been on such a hard rush the entire time I was there that I was exhausted and okay with the con being over, haha.

    Reply
    • Venessa Giunta May 11, 2017 at 6:30 pm

      Hey Nicole! 🙂

      It’s probably that the con drop was mixed in with the exhaustion. It’s not always easy to tell apart, especially in the first few cons, because everything is just so new and folks haven’t worked out how to pace themselves yet. So exhaustion is definitely a big post-con thing. And, also, not really knowing about con drop as its own thing, it’s common to just assume it’s exhaustion. But it’s about more than just being tired.

      Anyway, I hope you make it out to Dragon Con sometime! (Not because I want you to experience con drop, but because I want to see you! 🙂 )

      Reply
  • Lane Robins May 12, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    One of my con prep stages is done at the con that first night, going through the scheduling. I always want to do ALL THE THINGS, which just leaves me crazed, hungry, and overtired. I end up scheduling bolt-hole time for myself, where I can just retreat to the room and Be Quiet. Given how much I don’t like crowds, I’m always surprised that I do suffer Con Drop. Where did all the fun people goooooooo.

    Reply
  • davidbrawley May 13, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Another part of Con Prep is to pre-pack everything you plan on carrying with you. Make sure that it all fits, and that it isn’t too heavy. I learned this more from hiking trips, but it’s important for a con too. Whatever day bag/fanny pack/back pack you’re bringing, you don’t want it getting in the way, or keeping you off balance all day.

    Reply
    • Shara White May 15, 2017 at 7:48 am

      You also want that day bag to have extra room, for those goodies you inevitably discover and buy!

      Reply
    • Venessa Giunta May 31, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      Oh, yes! I’m really, really bad about not monitoring the weight of what I cram into my bag 🙂 So them my shoulder feels like I’ve been slammed into a wall half a dozen times because I’ve been carrying around 30lbs of stuff. 🙂 Great suggestion!

      Reply
  • jmh May 15, 2017 at 3:09 am

    Is Con Drop the same as the Post-Con Blues, where you get down about not being able to see or talk in person to all those wonderful friends for at least a year? I always have an emotional crash afterwards because I miss the people so much, so I’ll spend at least a week post-con talking to them on social media almost constantly.

    Reply
    • Venessa Giunta May 31, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      So sorry for the delay in reply! I totally missed notification of a couple comments!

      And yes, I’d say Con Drop is the same as Post-Con Blues. It’s absolutely an emotional crash. I imagine talking on social media actually helps a lot, so that’s a good thing for folks to consider doing too.

      Thanks for the comment! 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: