Cosplay Survival Guide: Conventions and Hotels

Congratulations, you’ve decided to attend a convention! There are a lot of tasks you need to take care of before the big day. Of course, your mind probably goes to your cosplay — what are you going to wear? However, before you get too busy building your costume and props, there are some logistic details you probably need to figure out of first. Perhaps most importantly of all, you need to start making travel arrangements, including planning and securing your hotel room. If you don’t have somewhere to stay, after all, it’s much harder to attend the con!

While making your hotel plans might seem simple at first glance, there’s actually a lot that goes into setting up your hotel experience to be as easy and comfortable as possible, even when things don’t go to plan. In this survival guide, we’ll give you our top tips for making your hotel stay at a convention the best it can possibly be.

Booking the Hotel


Booking your hotel room is the first thing you should do after purchasing your tickets to the convention. Depending on the size of the con, hotels will book up quickly, especially for larger events, like San Diego or New York. So, we would recommend booking your hotel as soon as possible once you’ve committed to attending the event in order to ensure you get a room nearby and within your budget.

If you’re attending the con with friends, it’s likely you’ll want to share a hotel room in order to save money and spend time together. However, most cosplayers will agree on this rule of thumb: don’t overcrowd your hotel room. In a room with two beds, the maximum number of people in the room should be no more than five. While it might sound like a fun way to save money, most experienced cosplayers will tell you that being cramped in the room while you’re sleeping or trying to get ready just isn’t worth it. Both MangoSirene and our friend AlanaOwlet agree: overcrowding your room leads to disaster. Friends don’t make friends sleep in the bathtub. Narrow down the list of who will be in your room quickly so you can begin the booking process.

When choosing where to stay, there are a few factors to consider, namely availability, location, and price. You’ll have to deal with all of these factors and weigh them against each other for just about every con you attend. While it can be worthwhile to check out any special hotel blocks that can be booked through the convention/its website, be aware that these packages tend to sell out extremely quickly. If you can get organized fast enough, they can be very convenient, and will often be one of the closest locations to the convention center or venue you can get. However, don’t panic if you can’t get one of these rooms. The easiest way to find alternate accommodations is to open up a maps app on your phone or computer. Find the convention center or venue on the map, then widen the lens to see what hotel options are nearby.

Once you have your local options in front of you, you can begin to compare price vs. distance to find the best deal that fits your needs. If the weather is supposed to be bad, maybe it will be worth paying a little more for a closer hotel. If you’re willing to pay for a ride to the venue, choosing a hotel that’s a little farther away may be a way to save a little more cash. Weigh all of your options, but don’t take too long to decide before booking. Where you stay will affect your convention experience, but in the long run, as long as you can get to the con in a timely manner, you’ll survive.

Finally, there’s the issue of payment. Because attending a con is an investment in itself, taking steps to protect yourself financially when booking a hotel is really important. Even if you’re attending with friends, be upfront about splitting the hotel costs and when dues need to be paid. It may sound harsh, but you should insist on collecting the money as soon as possible just to be sure you can afford the room. Discuss with your roomies ahead of time what will happen if someone needs to drop out before the con. Are they still responsible for paying their share? Finding a replacement? Set these guidelines ahead of time to ensure that you’re not stuck paying out of pocket for someone else.

Getting Ready for the Day in Your Hotel Room

Zelda cosplayer getting ready in hotel roomWhile getting dressed in your cosplay for the day in a hotel room may not be quite as comfortable as it is at home, there are a few things you can do to make it go as smoothly as possible. The number one rule for getting ready easily is making good use of your space and keeping it clean. It’s important to leave floor space so that you have room to get dressed and also so that no one steps on your costume or prop. Make use of your closet space by hanging or stacking your cosplays inside, and consider unpacking your cosplays and using the dresser drawers provided. To keep the room clean, keep all food, drinks, and snacks in a designated place, like stacked around the fridge or stored in one dresser drawer. AlanaOwlet has one great storage tip to share: if you’re done with a cosplay piece for the weekend, consider taking it out to your car to store it completely out of the way.

You also need to figure out a plan to protect your cosplay and props. If possible, pack your items in something hard-shelled, like plastic totes or buckets. If you’re flying to the con, we’d recommend investing in a hard-shelled suitcase to protect your costume pieces. Not only can these types of containers protect your items better than a soft bag, they can also be stacked up or placed on top of soft surfaces to make more counter space where you can get ready, do makeup, style wigs, etc. Bringing extra mirrors is always a good plan. You can also make more counter space by setting up the hotel ironing board or bringing a folding shoe rack. On the topic of hotel irons, always test them first on something other than your cosplay. If the iron leaks or is too hot, you risk ruining your cosplay with it.

Take any precautions you can to improve the flow of your morning. Plan ahead who will need the most time to get ready, and therefore, who needs to shower when. If you need help getting dressed in your cosplay, make sure to let your roommates know ahead of time. This will ensure you won’t be left alone in the room with no one to help you. Finally, if any of your items are fragile, make sure to put them somewhere out of the way so that everyone can be extra careful to keep their distance.


Convention Hotel Etiquette

Finally, in order to keep your stay fun and drama-free, there are two basic principles to remember: communication and respect. First, communicating with your roommates about your hopes and expectations for the con and the hotel space ahead of time is key to avoiding any unwanted drama during the event. Talk about what kind of room your want your hotel space to be: are you ok with being the party room where everyone comes to hang out, or would you rather be a quiet room that you basically only use to sleep and change in? Either is fine, but make sure your group agrees on which it will be. Set any ground rules, like no strangers in the room or no alcohol, before the convention so that everyone is clear on the expectations. If you happen to be rooming with anyone you don’t know well, consider bringing a bag or box you can lock your valuables into.

It’s also super important to be respectful of your roomies as well as other guests and hotel staff. If you come back late, for example, do your best to be quiet and not wake anyone who may also be sleeping. MangoSirene warns that if your cosplay has messy elements like makeup, body paint, wigs that shed, and more, be sure to clean up after yourself as much as possible. Your roomies deserve a clean space to get ready in that won’t ruin their cosplay, and hotel staff shouldn’t have to completely clean up after you. Don’t be loud and disruptive in ways that might disturb your hotel neighbors or those on your floor.

The more conventions you attend, the more tips and tricks you might pick up that can help make your hotel stay as comfortable as possible. In general, planning ahead and setting expectations for your time at the hotel are the best principles to keep in mind in order to have the best convention experience you can.