Convention 101

Welcome to Shore Leave's guide to science fiction con-going, Convention 101. While this is intended for someone who's never been to a convention before, it contains information everyone could use. This has been filched with permission from BaltiCon, who got it from OtaKon.

Please also check out our helpful FAQ.

What is Shore Leave?

In short, Shore Leave is a fan-run, science ficiton media convention.

Breaking that down a bit, "fan-run" means the entire convention is put on by Volunteers. Everyone from the person who hands you your badge to the committee co-chairs.

"Science fiction media" means Shore Leave is primarily focused on science fiction movies and television, as opposed to a literary convention (e.g. Balticon) which focuses on books. (Which is not to say that we don't have authors as guests - we do! Plus space scientists, performers and artists.)

We're also not just an "autograph show". Can you get autographs? Absolutely! But all of our guests also do Q&A sessions.

Money Saving Tips

You may be thinking to yourself, "$90 for a membership, plus $132/night for hotel, plus food, transportation, adds up to several hundred dollars for the weekend! How can people afford that?!" The answer is, very few people come alone. If two people share a room, the cost is reduced to $66/night per person. Four people in a room is $33.00/night, etc. Sharing room expenses by coming to the con with friends is the easiest and most common way of keeping your costs down.

Here's a rough idea of the minimum costs (per person) involved in attending Shore Leave:

Expense Alone w/1 Friend w/3 Friends
Shore Leave Membership $99 * $99 * $99 *
Hotel Room (3 nights, Fri., Sat., Sun.) $132 ** $66 ** $33 **
Car Travel (gas, tolls, etc.) (3-6 hr trip) *** $30 $15 $8
Food (10 meals Fri-Sun) $75-100 $75-100 $75-100
TOTAL $336 -361 $255 - 280 $215 - 240

* purchasing a membership at the door will add $9.

** plus applicable taxes.

*** travelling by air will of course add more.

What to bring? What to bring?

Heading off to a science fiction convention requires a little pre-planning, but it's worth it. First, bring a change of clothes for every day you'll be at the con, along with the other essentials you usually take when you're spending the weekend somewhere -- toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, etc. If you're sharing a room with several other people, bringing an extra towel and maybe a pillow or blanket (or a sleeping bag) is a good idea.

After you have the essentials, you can worry about the other stuff. One way to save more money for the dealers room is to bring some food with you. Go to your local grocery store and buy some food to bring along. PB+J sandwich supplies keep well unrefrigerated, and cost about $5 for enough to cover the whole weekend. Buying a six-pack or two of soda is also much cheaper than buying soda in the hotel. But do save some money for food and the trip home.

In any case, be sure you leave some room in the car for the stuff you will buy at the con.

Getting There

It's supposed to be half the fun, right? Well, whoever said that is full of something, because driving for several hours is anything but fun. Here are some tips to make the journey a little less painful.

Before you leave, visit one of the various online online travel map web sites and get directions to the convention hotel from where you live. If you can, print them out (with maps). If you are travelling in a multiple-car group, make one copy for each car.

If your group consists of more than one car, make sure all the drivers can recognize each others cars. Traffic on the interstates gets pretty hectic at times, and you don't want to lose part of your group. It may be a good idea to plan for several places where everyone can stop in case one of the cars falls behind. In a caravan, each car should keep track of the car in front of it, and the car behind it.

Further transportation information can be found on the Directions page.