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A Go Girl Geek’s Crash Course to Conventions

Conventions are a world all their own. Image from bbcamerica.com.

This past Thanksgiving weekend, The Boyfriend and I packed up the SUV and headed to Lombard, Illinois (home of the famous Lilacia Park, where dozens of varieties of lilacs and tulips burst into bloom every spring) for the annual Chicago Tardis Convention.

Perfect little girl cosplaying perfect Weeping Angel.

Perfect little girl cosplaying perfect Weeping Angel. Photo by Ann Santori.

If the Go Girls reading are fellow card-carrying geeks, they know that said convention was, of course, Doctor Who-based.  Now, while I’m certainly a casual fan of everything related to the erstwhile Time Lord, before I began dating The Boyfriend, the only fandom I would have considered myself a die-hard member of was Harry Potter’s. And the members of this fandom, as we well know, have been waiting a LONG time for a book, a movie . . . a new t-shirt design (anything!) for which to come together.  Therefore, with the exception of those midnight Potter releases (which officially ended in 2011), I hadn’t had an opportunity to geek out in ages, and I’d never been to an official convention.

Woowee, it’s a culture shock.  And, much like boning up on some key “Where is the bathroom”-esque phrases before jetting to a foreign country, a Go Girl headed to a convention can benefit from a few pre-planning and day-of tips:

1.)  If the convention has a designated hotel, stay in said hotel.

Usually the room block reserved by the convention organizers will afford you a nicely discounted price, and, best of all, you can easily store your stuff – even more convenient for Go Girls who plan to cosplay during their stay!

2.) Don’t be intimidated by geekier geeks.

In any area of life, there will always be someone better and someone worse at x skill than you.  Come to terms with this, and start enjoying your place in the hierarchy.  Trivia contests at conventions are especially humbling.  Here you have the best of the best from across the country, perhaps even the world, and convention organizers trying to stump these individuals.

Just when you thought you had a grip on the Sixth vs. the Seventh Doctor, a question like, “In the 1971 episode ‘The Mind of Evil,’ which simple drug is stated as being fatal to The Doctor?” is thrown out, and you feel like the new girl again.

Awesome ladies cosplaying the fourth, sixth, and seventh Doctor respectively.

Awesome ladies cosplaying the fourth, sixth, and seventh Doctors, respectively. Photo by Ann Santori.

But, when you turn in your confusion to The Boyfriend, the one who can cite episode numbers and quote dozens of individual lines (if not full episodes worth) of dialogue, and he simply says, “I have no freaking clue,” you’re both clueless together . . . and all is right with the world.

3.)  Google market prices of any item you eye in the Dealer’s Room.

I came home with the kitsch-tastic Dalek Mr. Potato-Head for $30, a mere five bucks over Amazon’s discounted price (not including shipping) – a small price to pay, in my estimation, for the immediate satisfaction.  Items sold at conventions will almost always be priced higher than those sold at major outlets or online. You simply have to decide how much the item is worth to you/how good your chances are of conveniently purchasing it somewhere else.

4.)  Talk to the geeks. (They will give you dark chocolate peanut butter cups.)

You’ll all be wearing name-tags and you’ll have at least one interest in common, so go for it (especially if you’re traveling to the convention solo).  Compliment a costume or ask a question, and you’ll have your opening for that debate you’ve been longing to have over the depiction of mothers in the Who-niverse.  Then, when you’re sitting next to each other during a particularly boring panel, they’ll burrow in their purse for snacks and come up with dark chocolate peanut butter cups . . . and share them!

Another great way to socialize?  RPGs!  And there are pretty dice.

Another great way to socialize? RPGs! And there are pretty dice. Photo by Ann Santori.

5.)  Peruse the walls in common areas for impromptu meet-ups.

Another pro to staying on-site is the ability to float in and out of the random gatherings that pop up throughout the convention.  Think Cyber-Karaoke and screenings of obscure movies that one or more of your favorite stars have appeared in during their more . . . B-reel days.

So, Go Girls, go forth to your nearest convention and live long and prosper (We’re Trekkies over here, too.)!

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By the way, looking for a great convention for female travel enthusiasts (bloggers, brand reps, and travel lovers around the world)? Join us at the Women in Travel Summit, brought to you by your very own Go Girl Travel Network, in Chicago on March 14-16, 2014! Early bird tickets are going for just $99 (for bloggers) and $299 (for brands) — we can’t wait to see you there!

Ann Santori
Blogger and podcaster
Ann Santori is a B.A. graduate in English Literature and Political Science from Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. She was born and (partially) raised in Chicago, IL before moving to the suburbs and therefore igniting her life-long desire to travel far beyond towns where the only thing open past 9pm is the IHOP.

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