Have you always wanted to attend a convention alone, but can’t because your friends don’t want to go? Or you can’t get a ride there? At conventions, do you get annoyed having to follow your friend’s schedule and not yours? Do you get angry having to babysit them at conventions sometimes?
If you said “yes” to any of these things, then you definitely need to try attending an Anime convention ALONE. For some of you, that might seem intimidating or even impossible. But don’t worry; that’s why I made this post!
Today, I will talk about how you can attend and enjoy an Anime convention by yourself. I’ll go over the pros and cons, how to adequately prepare for a convention, how to have fun and how to stay safe!
How great it is to attend a convention alone?
Personally, I love going to conventions by myself. I’ve actually been attending cons (and travelling in general) on my own for a long time now, so I’m actually used to this more than I am going with friends. Being able to do whatever you want, when you want is an incredibly nice feeling!
While this post can apply to small/local conventions in your area, this post will mainly focus on big conventions outside of your home town or city. In my opinion, it’s not that hard to attend a small local con on your own, not plan ahead and go back home at the end of the day. But at a con where you’ll need to travel and stay at a place on your own is far more challenging. And that what I’m going to help you with today!
Attend a convention alone: IS it for everyone?
I wrote this post because I genuinely feel you wanting to attend a convention alone can be a great experience. That being said, there are exceptions where I would not recommend going alone, including:
- If you’re not self-reliant. Unless you’re going to a small con that’s in the same city, visiting a big con in a different city takes some planning and responsibility on your part. If you can’t handle stuff like booking your own hotel or travel tickets, that then you probably should just stick with your friends. But if you actually want to learn how, then keep reading!
- If you have major social anxiety. In my opinion, one of the most important aspects of having fun when you’re traveling to a convention alone is socializing with others. If you have social anxiety, there’s no need to put more pressure on yourself to do so.
- If loneliness is very difficult for you to deal with (or you need someone with you at all times). While most congoers are friendly and social, there will be moments where it can be difficult to socialize. So at times, it can feel lonely at a convention. Loneliness is part of traveling alone but it can be very difficult for someone who’s not used to it. If that’s the case, then attending alone may not be for you.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about why it’s great to attend a convention alone!
The advantages of getting to attend a convention alone
Follow your own schedule and do whatever you want. You can stay or leave the convention whenever the hell you want. No need to leave the convention early to drive your friends home, or having to be inside your friend’s car at a certain time. Want to sleep in during Saturday afternoon of a con? Go ahead! No one will judge you!
You have the hotel or lodging room all to yourself. No need to worry about things like waiting to use the washroom or waking up somebody (or someone waking you up). The hotel room is entirely yours! You don’t have to be concerned about getting along with others because you’re the only one in that hotel room. Don’t have to listen to bitching or complaining from your friends. You can be as loud (or as quiet) as you want. You can throw all your clothes and cosplay on the floor. It’s so nice having your own hotel room!
Far easier to meet and socialize with new people. If you want to meet new friends or make new business connections, it’s far more difficult if you have a group of friends around you. In my experience, you can’t have meaningful conversations with people if your friends are hovering around you to hurry up and end your interaction. When I’m with my friends at a convention, I won’t be talking to many congoers because I don’t want to hold them up. But when you’re alone it’s much easier to do so.
For some people, going to a convention alone is very refreshing and soothing. As an introvert myself, I like being on my own after a long day of socializing with others. I get drained and need to be away from people. So going alone allows you to do this, whereas going with friends you really don’t have much opportunity to recharge and be alone since you’re always with people the whole time. Sometimes you really need to get away from your inner circle.
Those are some of the great things when you attend a convention alone. However, there are some drawbacks…
The disadvantages when you attend a convention alone
Everything is more expensive when you’re alone at a convention. You don’t have the luxury of carpooling or splitting a hotel or a meal with friends; all the expenses will be on you. So save up some money!
Going to a convention alone has its inconveniences:
- You won’t have anyone watching your stuff while you use the washroom at the convention
- It’ll be hard finding someone help you put on your costume
- You have to extra careful if you get plastered drunk at the rave
- No one to help you bring your luggage and cosplay to/from the hotel room
- No one to go out for food or drinks when it’s time for lunch or dinner (unless you make friends at the con, which I’ll talk about later in this post)
At times it can feel awkward, lonely and even depressing at a convention. This is especially true if you’re not socializing with anyone at the convention, or you feel like no one wants to socialize with you. The worst feeling is when you see everyone around you chatting and having a good time while you feel shut out and alone. When this happens, it can really suck. Again, it’s part of the experience of attending alone and something you got to deal with at times.
So now you know the pros and cons of being alone at a convention. Still, it’s worth the experience especially if you haven’t tried before.
Now let’s talk about how to actually do this!
Logistics and how to save money when you attend a convention alone
(As mentioned earlier, this post is meant for conventions outside of your home. But you can always start by attending local conventions first, as you don’t have to worry about how to get there and where to stay.)
First and foremost – You’ll need to budget more money than usual when you travel alone so keep that in mind. Read my guide on how to save money on various things, such as your cosplay, and overall convention budgeting tips.
First you need to find a place to stay during a convention weekend on your own. As usual, the first place you’d want to check is the convention hotels; they usually have the best deals while being right beside the con. However, you have to consider the price since you’re staying by yourself and paying everything yourself.
For example, a convention hotel that’s $200/night ($400 in total) will be way more expensive on your own. If you had 3 other friends, it would only be $100 each. But since you’re by yourself, you’d have to pay $400, which is significantly more.
So if you’re going alone, you have a few options for lodging:
- Find people online to share a room with. I personally don’t recommend doing this because while it’ll save you money, you don’t know who kind of roommate you’re getting. They could be awesome at a con, but terrible as a roommate. Nevertheless, if you want to find roommates to stay with (or vice versa), pick and choose carefully!
- If you’re lucky enough for the convention to be located beside a hostel, then this is definitely a great budget friendly option. You can get private rooms at a hostel for much cheaper than a regular hotel room. Cons such as Sakura-Con and Otakuthon are located in the city centre, which means plenty of hostels nearby. So do a search on Google to see if the con you’re attending has hostels in the vicinity.
- Stay at a cheaper hotel much further away. Either take public transit to/from the convention or use a taxi/Uber. It won’t be as convenient as staying at a hotel beside the con, but you get really great deals from hotels that are much further away. For example, during Anime Boston I stayed at a private hostel that was about 15 minutes away from the convention and saved over $200 USD by doing so!
Getting to the convention on your own
Your friend who normally drives you to the convention won’t be around this time, so you’ll have to figure out a way there.
- If you live in North America, the Greyhound and Megabus serve multiple cities and have an extensive bus network to get you there, while the Via Rail and Amtrak are more limited. I’m not sure about Europe and other countries, but your rail network is probably much better than ours here in North America!
- Taking the plane makes sense if the convention is very far away. It’s the fastest way to get there and back but also the most expensive. If time is something you cannot spare, then take the plane. For me, I work a full-time job so I don’t have a bunch of vacation days to spare. So taking the plane makes sense for me in a lot of situations. However, if you have lots of time on your hands and you’re willing to sit for multiple hours, then you can save a lot of money by taking the long way there using the bus or train.
- A car will probably not be worth it if you’re going alone most of the time. You’ll have no one to split the gas bill and no one to help you with the drive. So you’re better off sitting on a bus/train/plane and letting someone else do the driving for you. The only time it makes sense driving if the convention is in an obscure location that’s difficult to reach by public transportation (e.g. ColossalCon).
Now that you got the transportation and lodging down, here’s…
How to have fun!
When you attend a convention with your friends, you can always depend on them to have fun. However when you’re alone, it’s a completely different story. The onus is on you to have fun and to have a good time. So how do you take advantage of being on your own at a convention? Let’s find out!
You need to socialize or be open to socializing at the convention. If you want to have fun and not feel lonely at the convention, you need to put yourself out there at the convention. Part of the fun of going alone to a convention is talking to meeting new people! It does push you out of your comfort zone, but socializing with attendees you’ve never met is refreshing. Whereas with your friends you could get away with being cliquey and antisocial, when you’re alone you got to be open to meeting new people and talking to your fellow attendees at a con.
Fortunately at Anime conventions, there are plenty of opportunities to meet and socialize with your fellow attendees. Some of these include:
Karaoke: singing some Weeb tunes together is fun icebreaker and a way to get to know people!
Q&A panels: You’d be surprised how easy it to talk to people who are into the same stuff in the same room. I’ve met some cool friends from the same panels we attended.
Group photoshoots: Not the private ones that happen occasionally, but the group photoshoots scheduled by the convention organizers. For example if you’re cosplaying from Fire Emblem, why not attend the Fire Emblem photoshoot and socialize with cosplayers who are into the same series as you are? It’s a great way to meet cosplayers.
Cosplay at the convention. You should definitely cosplay to make it easier to socialize with people. It’s one thing to be a normie with friends, but it’s very difficult being a normie alone at a convention. It’s much harder to break the ice with people and you might get trapped being lonely at a convention. So I highly recommend cosplaying at a convention to make it easier to socialize with others. Read my post about making new friends at a con for more details!
Volunteer! This is another great way to know the convention and the staff. Not only can volunteering for a con be fun, but you also get some pretty nice perks when volunteering, such as free swag, food and even a free pass and hotel if you put a lot of hours in. However, most importantly you get to meet new volunteers. For me, I made a ton of friends at Anime Boston when I volunteered for the con. So I can definitely say it’s worth volunteering if you’re willing to help out.
Other important things
So those are some various ways to socialize and meet new people at a convention. What else should you know?
- Keep your schedule open. When you’re with your friends you probably have a jam-packed schedule because you want to do things and so do your friends. But when you’re alone, you’ll have more free time on your hands and you should keep it that way. Why? Maybe someone at the con will invite you out to a hotel party or out for dinner. Or you find about a side event during the convention weekend that’s worth attending. It definitely can happen when you’re on your own (it’s definitely happened to me plenty of times). So you want to keep your options open, so you have opportunities to hang out with new friends/attendees while also spontaneous.
- Use your hotel room as much as you can (e.g. showering, cooling off and taking a break, dropping off merchandise, grabbing food/drink). When you have friends staying with you, you don’t want to do this too often. But when you’re alone, you can actually do this as much as you want. In fact, you should totally take advantage of this, because you’re paying a lot of money on your own to use it!
- Don’t forget to eat/sleep/drink. Your health is always #1, so do take some time to get hydrated, eat some food and eventually sleep in your hotel palace that’s all yours for this particular convention weekend!
How to stay safe
For the most part, Anime conventions are very safe environments and everyone is out there to have fun. That being said, you should take some precautions when you’re attending a convention alone:
- As always, Cosplay Is Not Consent. If you’re ever in a situation where someone is making you feel uncomfortable, definitely speak up and let that person know. No one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable. Just because you’re attending an Anime convention doesn’t mean you have to deal with problems on your own. Remember that you can always talk to convention security and staff to get any issue resolved. Don’t let anyone ruin your convention experience.
- Drink responsibility. You don’t have your friends to carry you back to the hotel if you get plastered. So don’t go overboard when you’re at a con on your own.
- You need to be extra careful with your stuff. Unlike when you have friends watching your stuff, you’re on your own when it comes to this. So when you buy merchandise from the dealer’s room, don’t leave it on a bench or anywhere unattended. Either carry it with you at all times or drop it in the hotel room ASAP. Personally, I always bring my wallet and phone with me at all times when I’m attending alone. Other stuff I’ll just leave in the hotel room. And if you’re inviting people over to your hotel room, I would suggest stashing your valuables away in a closet so they’re safe and protected.
And there you have it – How to attend a convention alone! Honestly, going on your own is a great and fun way to experience a con. And who knows; maybe you end up enjoying it more than going with your friends all the time. It’s something I recommend everyone trying at least once, just like travelling!
If you enjoyed this post, check out some of my other posts you will enjoy:
- Differences between Canadian and American cosplay conventions
- Cosplay Packing Guide
- Conventions with the best and worst hotel rates
If you have any questions or other suggestions, leave them in the comments below. 🙂