CON-TRAVELER: comic con abroad
BY SONISE LUMBACA
SO YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN A COMIC CON ABROAD?
Space Aliens, Bad Mother’s and Guns! participates as artists and authors at Comic Cons, every chance we get. We have traveled abroad and wanted to provide some venturing hopefuls with things to consider, once that opportunity presents itself. While these considerations aren’t written in stone, they can be quite insightful and provide some great planning options for the Con-Traveler, those interested in partaking in conventions abroad. In this issue we’ll cover picking the right Con as well as getting there. We’ll get to the actual logistics and what to do once you arrive in future issues. While we offer up our suggestions to artists and authors, there is plenty to pull from here for cosplayers, fans, vendors and other types of participants who wish to pursue their adventures at Comic Cons abroad.
You have quite a few comic cons under your belt and are really getting the hang of the artist alley and vendor scene. At first you participated in one locally in your hometown; and then another one state over. You eventually travelled halfway across the country, finally achieving participation in a Comic Con on the opposite coast. Pat yourself on the back for this achievement. There is a lot that goes into getting there and you have experienced a laundry list of logistics, to include food, travel and lodging. But does it end there? Of course not! Suddenly the thought of what’s it like to exhibit your talents and merchandise in a foreign land, pops in your head. There are more Comic Cons to see and experience in this world; new people to meet who are like minded and understand the Comic Con world. More friends to make and collaborators to collaborate with…ABROAD.
Participating in Comic Cons abroad typically isn’t a bridge too far, but it can be if you do not plan accordingly. In all actuality, while to some degree there is a cookie cutter approach once you have developed your, we’ll call it “show package,” the difficulties that come with an initial participation, like forgetting to bring things that you need for example, or those other details that aren’t even considered or get overlooked, dissipate quickly with experience.
PICKING YOUR CONVENTION ABROAD
First things first, choose your comic con. This can be based on cost (don’t forget to conduct a currency conversion first for the country you intend to visit). Especially it being your first event abroad, you may not want to spend so much. Chances are, you are looking for an event to return to year after year, so try starting off with a modest budget. Some Comic Con admission fees abroad are more affordable than the ones you will find in the United States. If the funds are available, you may want to consider visiting the Comic Con as an attendee first in order to get a feeling for whether or not it is an event you want to invest in going to. Conducting reconnaissance (recon) first will also help you plan the logistics requirements which include flights, hotel, travel to and from the venue, food in the area (especially if you have a food allergy) and getting to know the area and people in general. Sometimes Comic Con websites and other social media promotions will not do a good job of showing how amazing or lackluster an event is, to include attendee/patron turnout. And since participating as an artist/vendor/etc. can be expensive, you definitely want to check it out first to determine if you are going to at least break even monetarily, profit or bust.
SETTING UP TRAVEL
Once you’ve chosen your Con, the next thing you’ll want to do is make sure that you have a passport and that it’s up to date. If not, you will need to apply for and purchase one. Passports can take a couple of months to acquire but there is an option to expedite receiving it sooner for more money. Take the necessary required documents to your local post office who can process passports and who should have all of the information you need to make this happen. One thing you will need to do with regards to travel documents is to check and see if the country you intend to visit requires a travel visa along with the passport. Also, try to identify the location of the nearest embassy. You probably won’t need it, but it is good information to have handy.
If you are unable to travel to a Comic Con to recon it in advance you should consider buying your plane ticket in advance regardless and on both accounts. If you do not have the funds readily available to just purchase a plane ticket on the spree of the moment, which can be pretty pricey, then this can be your biggest purchase next to paying baggage and/or cargo fees. You may want to do this at a minimum of six months out and in some cases depending on where you are traveling to, further out than this. The earlier you buy your ticket, the cheaper the ticket tends to be (although many locations have high tourist seasons and that can therefore create a pricey flight, so be aware of this as well).
Other things to consider when buying your ticket to save on costs is the difference between multiple connections and direct flights. Although the chances of your cargo not meeting its connecting flight increases and it will likely take longer to get to your destination, you will find that multiple connecting flights can cost significantly less. Also, depending on the airline, its frequency in traveling to a location, the day of the week you choose to purchase your ticket and the date you choose to arrive, there can also be a huge difference in price. For example, statistics have shown that paying for a flight departure on a Friday and returning on a Sunday, since it is the weekend when many people travel, tend to cost more than a flight leaving on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Since Comic Cons tend to be over the weekend, you may want to consider traveling on a Wednesday or Thursday (and maybe take the day to settle in and visit the venue before hand, if permitted or going sightseeing if you have the time and energy).
Keep in mind, due to the different time changes and layover flights when traveling abroad, you may buy your ticket on a Thursday evening and unfortunately end up arriving Saturday morning; which can be quite true when traveling to parts of Asia. Other things you may want to consider is going with airline package deals. Many airlines have reduced prices when you package your flight, hotel and rental car (you might need a rental car considering what you are bringing with you or if it’s more economically feasible, use taxi services).
Tune in next month for part two of our series of “Con-Traveler,” where we will discuss the items and artist merchandise you may want to bring or consider leaving behind and why. We will also touch on hotels and lodging considerations (where you sleep may be just one hostel, rather than a hotel, away). See you then and thanks for stopping by!