Going to something like Gen Con is not a small undertaking when you live in the UK.
For me it involved travelling 3,765 miles (give or take a few miles) each way. All of that went fine. Flights etc were without problem, we had enough time in between connecting flights to relax and take our time without the gap being tooooo long. Apartment we chose was also completely fine with a few niggles, which is where the 1st lesson comes from.
1st Lesson - Location Does Matter.
Despite being ONLY a 15 minute walk away the apartment felt too far away at times. Not just when I was carrying 327 bags of stuff but also just the general tooing and froing between the venue and the apartment. It was just too far away that it made a quick bag drop too time consuming and so whenever we did anything like that it invariably resulted in us staying at the apartment.
Some of that was down to general tiredness but as strange as it sounds, being just 10 minutes closer or being in one of the adjoined (via skywalk) hotels would have made a lot of difference and made it more likely that we'd be gaming later into the night.
That aside we all managed to stick to the minimum 3 hours sleep, 2 meals and 1 shower per day rule shared by those awesome UnderGophers at Under Discussion. Although on the Thursday I had to have 2 showers as I was sweating buckets carrying around all of my purchases. Picking up my purchases was something I managed to do very very easily thanks to having early access to the hall what with being press and all that. It did mean that both Liz and I had to be there super early on the Thursday to make sure we were amongst the first 100 press passers but that was easy enough.
2nd Lesson - Press Pass Was Worth It
Ok so I was always going to write a number of things about Gen Con in the blog but getting the Press Pass enabled a number of things.
1) Attendance of Trade Day Seminars - Ok so these were a bit hit & miss or possibly closer to miss & miss in the main but what I learned from them both from a content and lack of content perspective was useful. I'll have a few posts about the Seminars I attended in due course.
2) Press Room - I really didn't use this for much of anything other than a "rest point". Free water / juice was enough to get me to use the room and of course the free Wi-Fi that was offered to the press was useful although I didn't really use it that much.
3) Early Access to Exhibit Hall - Definitely the biggest benefit. 1 hour before the masses entered the hall meant that I got the majority of my shopping done quickly. It may have been a bit frantic in places but that early access was worth it and I'd definitely do it again.
As I posted in the run up to Gen Con I had a pretty packed schedule. What I didn't appreciate fully was the distance between all of the things I wanted to do and similarly my level of desire to actually do those things instead of these other things would diminish. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I wasn't having fun or anything just that the schedule became a bit more erm fluid once I got there and other than some specific games (posts to follow) and a couple of seminars I might have been better off just buying a bunch of generics and randomly playing stuff.
3rd Lesson - Don't Pack Your Schedule
As I've said above this was more a question of over planning rather than being spontaneous. If I was ever to go to Gen Con again (not next year but sometime) then I'd more than likely want to keep an abundance of space other than some MUST do events. Keeping things fluid let's you see more of the convention itself. Sure you might miss out on some really cool stuff but at the same time you might discover some other REALLY COOL STUFF!
There are other lessons that I learned whilst being at Gen Con but these 3 are probably the stand out ones for me. If there was a 4th then it would be - Don't try to eat 24 donuts and drink 3 litres of coffee in 1 day. Fortunately I learned that one BEFORE I tried it.