As I post this the SOE Fan Faire is a mere 40 days away. This will be my third Fan Faire, and this time I'm gonna be busier than a one-winged bixie in a jumjum field with both EverQuest II and Free Realms to cover for ZAM. It's a great time, if you can make it you surely should.
Here's some things I've learned the last two Fan Faires which you might find interesting, informative, or at least amusing. All this may mean nothing if you're the type who can toss a change of underthings in a bag and be good for a week, but me, I need to plan a bit.
Getting There: If you're flying be sure to check with your airline and airport's websites for current FAA regulations and how far ahead you need to be at the airport. Also note that many airlines charge you to check more than one bag. If you're driving, watch your budget by using a site like GasBuddy to find cheaper gas. Once you're in Vegas, grab a shuttle to the hotel. They're all about the same, and you can buy a round-trip shuttle ticket for under $15. Cheaper than a cab! You don't really need a car in Vegas, especially if you're staying near the monorail (Bally's also offers free shuttles to its sister hotels).
Lodging: It may be cheaper to stay in a smaller hotel than the one hosting the convention, but if you can afford it stay where ever they put us (as I'm writing this the Fan Faire pricing block was extended, so you can still get $79 rooms). Fan Faire goes just about all night and all day, and if you really get into it you won't have a minute to spare! It's also nice when your hotel room is only 5 minutes away.
Toeses: You're going to spend a lot of time walking, not just to and from your room but around the huge Legends Lounge and between conference rooms. This is not the time to show off your favorite high heels unless you can stand in them for eight hours. Bring comfy walking shoes. When I feel the need to wear a heel at Fan Faire, you'll probably find a pair of flip-flops in my bag.
Noses: I always feel weird mentioning this, but if your sinuses are sensitive in any way, be prepared. You're going from where ever you live to a place where outside it's hot and dry and inside the air is very dry and over-processed. A big bottle of plain old nasal saline will save you a lot of grief. While you're at it, grab some of your favorite cold medicine, because I positively guarentee that someone at Fan Faire will be passing a cold around.
Hydration: It's easy to forget to eat and drink, there's so much going on. Keeping yourself hydrated will not only keep you going, it's a great defense against morning after hangovers. Remember, nothing is free in Vegas if you're not actively gambling. I actually bring my own water bottles, because I'm cheap. Fill them half-full at night, pop them into your room freezer and top them off the next morning. Top them off whenever you hit a rest room or water fountain.
Nutrition: There is, of course, food available in the hotel. Last year there was a nice, not too expensive coffee and sandwich stand very close to the convention area. But if you want to min/max Fan Faire, be aware there are no meal breaks once things get going. I recommend a hearty breakfast (even for folks like me whose idea of breakfast is a 16 oz latte), because you might not stop to eat until dinner, if then. I carry some high-protein snack bars on me (brought from home, of course, 'cause I'm cheap) ever since the year Niami Denmother saved my day with a bag of Trail Mix.
The Nectar of Life: Coffee, that is. Every time I've been to Vegas there's been no coffee pot in the room. I guess I've gotten used to it elsewhere. Vegas, of course, wants you to buy room service, rent one of their pots, get or a $6 Starbucks. Me, I pack a little travel coffee maker. Have I mentioned I'm cheap? It cost me about $15, and easily paid for itself the first trip. Works for tea too!
Want to be Wireless?: Most hotels in Vegas don't offer free Wifi, and Bally's is no exception. "High-Speed" internet is available in your room at $13.99 for 24 hours. The script the nice young man read me specified you need your own laptop with an ethernet card. These sites list free wiki spots in Nevada, but you'll be leaving the hotel: Wiki Free Spot and I Love Free Wifi.
Tech Toys: Don't forget your phone chargers, laptop peripherals, mp3 chargers, and all those other miscellaneous wires that are scattered around your desk! If you leave one behind the only reasonable options will be to buy one to replace it or do without. Batteries, too, are probably cheaper where you live.
Forgot it?: While it's true that they sell toothpaste where ever you go, if you need something in Vegas you get the choice of getting it from the hotel at tourist prices or hoping to find a store on public transportation (I swear, it's a $20 cab ride anywhere). Make a list and check it twice!
6-2-1: I'm ripping this right from one of my Fan Faire peices last year, because it's absolutely true. My friend Rijacki recommends the 6-2-1 rule. She tells me you need 6, 2, and 1 of three things to "function" at a con:
- hours of sleep
She swears it works in any combination. The recommended configuration is 6 hours of sleep, 2 meals, and 1 shower. But it's been done as 2 showers, 6 meals, and 1 hour of sleep. I skipped this one day last year and regretted it badly the next day.
I should have eaten 6 meals.