Gaming conventions like PAX, BlizzCon and TwitchCon are more popular than ever as the video games industry continues to grow. It’s a great way for fans to meet the content creators they follow and meet up with online friends. If you’re attending a big gaming convention for the first time, however, it can be a very stressful and overwhelming experience. We’ve compiled some tips that will make your first convention experience more enjoyable:

Dress Comfortably – Many conventions take place in large buildings across multiple locations. You will be on your feet 8-10 hours a day while you explore the convention and meet people. Wear shoes that let you walk and stand comfortably for hours. Clothes with lots of pockets and pouches are preferable since many conventions are no longer allowing backpacks or purses to be brought in due to security reasons.

Bring Hand Sanitizer – Be sure to use hand sanitizer to lessen your exposure to potential illnesses. You will come into physical contact with thousands of people, items, and surfaces at conventions. People travel from all over the world to attend these events so the chance of being exposed to an illness is very high.

Stay Hydrated – Always keep yourself hydrated by drinking water or other non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day. Many conventions don’t allow you to bring your own beverages or food, so buying a bottle of water and then refilling it at a water fountain is the cheapest way to stay hydrated. Always keep your eye on your drinks, try not to set them down, and never accept drinks from strangers.

Remember to Eat – Always keep yourself well-nourished. Protein bars are a cheap option that can keep your energy levels up between meals which will allow you to focus on meeting others and endure the physical requirement of being on your feet all day. Always keep your eye on all food you set down while in any public areas, and never accept food from strangers.

Stay Rested – Try and get a good night’s sleep during the convention. This may seem hard since conventions are about excitement and socializing, but knowing when to quit for the day or to take a rest while at the convention will make your experience much more enjoyable in the long run. Conventions usually last two, or three days. So, the phrase, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” aptly applies.

Travel in Groups – You will often move between convention locations for different events. It is a good idea to walk or carpool with other convention goers, especially at night. Stay in brightly lit and high traffic areas, even during the day. There is safety in numbers, and it’s a good way to meet fellow convention attendees as well.

Make a Schedule – Many conventions now offer mobile apps you can download that list the schedule of events and their locations. You can use it to prioritize the things you want to see and the people you want to meet. Having a basic plan will help you feel less overwhelmed and allow you to allocate time to eating, hydrating, and resting while at the convention.

Carry Cash – You should carry small bills with you to buy any merchandise, food, and drinks that are offered. Convention prices may be high, but many conventions are no longer allowing outside food, or drink containers in for security reasons. You should always carry small bills just in case of general emergencies, too.

Battery Packs – Bring multiple battery packs and charging accessories for your phones, tablets, and cameras. Conventions are about making memories, so be sure you have enough energy to power the many devices that will capture them.

Respect Others Personal Space – Always respect another person’s personal space even at large social gatherings like conventions. You may run into your favorite content creators on the convention floor, or even outside the convention. Most content creators are more than happy to interact with their fans, but you should always evaluate the situation to see if it’s an appropriate time to interact with them, or not.

When approaching a content creator, you should open with “Are you X? My name is Y (real name), and I really like your streams/videos/content”.

Always start with your real name, and then tell them your username if they ask. This establishes you and the content creator as real people, and allows the conversation to flow naturally. This applies to everyone you meet at conventions, too, and not just famous content creators.

Social Etiquette When Meeting Content Creators – Meeting your favorite content creator might make you nervous and leave you dumbstruck. However, never follow them around the convention floor, and never follow them into restrooms, or other private areas. If a content creator notices this behavior, they might feel threatened and alert convention security.

The best place to meet your favorite content creators are at official Meet & Greets. Content creator meet & greets are setup so you and the content creators can interact in a safe environment. Most creators post on social media where and when you can meet them during the convention as well. This means you’re guaranteed to meet them at the times & locations listed versus randomly running into them on the convention floor, or even outside the convention.

If you plan on attending a gaming convention for the first time, it can be a very nerve-racking experience if you’re not prepared. We listed numerous tips from convention veterans and even content creators themselves that will make your first time experience of attending a convention a fun and memorable one.