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One of the things you can count on every year for Fan Faire is Calthine's Fan Faire Tips! Calthine is a Fan Faire veteran after three years and has graciously allowed us to reprint her prep list to share with everyone.

Getting there: If you're flying, be sure to check the current FAA regulations on what you can and cannot carry. There are, for example, some odd rules about extra laptop batteries. Check your departing airport's website for how early you need to be there: if you miss the window you might arrive without your luggage. Once in Vegas, plan on a couple of hours to get from the plane to your hotel. I recommend you catch a shuttle to the hotel. It doesn't matter which one - they all cost about the same, $15 or so. Buy a round trip-ticket, because it's cheaper that way and all you'll have to do is call the night before you leave to schedule a pickup.

Lodging: It may be cheaper to stay in a smaller hotel than the one hosting the convention, but if you can afford it stay at Bally's. Fan Faire goes just about all night and all day, and if you really get into it you won't have a minute to spare!  It's also nice when your swag bag has gotten really heavy to have a hotel room five minutes away.

Where's the Con?: As you are facing the Bally's registration desk, turn 90 degrees to your right. Walk that way, past the Flamingo Road exit and past the North Tower elevator. Keep going down that hall. It will take you there. There are some great hotel maps on the official Fan Faire forum.

What Happens in Vegas Ends Up on the Internet: There's a sign outside the Fan Faire area warning that by walking in you consent to having your image used. Hence Ke'la linking that picture of me being thrown in the pool at FF '07 over and over again. Although it seems names are rarely attached to Fan Faire pics, if you're very privacy conscious wear a costume!

The Devs are Nice People: After Fan Faire 2009 a dev asked me to pass this on: "If you see me standing at a booth or demo all by myself, please come talk to me!  I'm probably bored!"  The developers and other SOE staff are great people who love what they do and love to talk about it. Don't be shy!  On the other hand, they are working, so if they have to run off don't take it personally.

Sign Up Early: Some activities have limited space.  Sign up early to save yourself a spot! 

Be kind to your feet: You're going to spend a lot of time walking, not just to and from your room but around the huge Legends Lounge and between conference rooms. You're also bound to spend a fair bit of time in lines. Bring comfy walking shoes. Unless you're comfortable in heels or cowboy boots for hours on end, avoid them. Your feet will thank you!

Beware the air: I always feel odd mentioning this, but if your sinuses are sensitive in any way, be prepared. You're going from where ever you live to a place where outside it's hot and dry and inside the air is very dry and over-processed. It's so dry that I always lose my voice by late Saturday. Gum and breath mints can also help counteract the dry air, and keep us all from AOE effects when we're chatting. A big bottle of plain old nasal saline will save you a lot of grief. While you're at it, grab some of your favorite cold medicine, because I positively guarantee that someone at Fan Faire will be passing around a cold.

Stay Hydrated: Keeping yourself hydrated will not only keep you going, it's a great defense against hangovers. I actually bring my own water bottles, because I'm cheap and nothing is free in Vegas if you're not actively gambling. Fill them half-full at night, pop them into your room freezer and top them off the next morning. Fill them up whenever you hit a rest room or water fountain. 

Feed your body: There is, of course, food available in the hotel. Fan Faire veterans have been compiling a list of eateries from the cheap to the lofty on the Fan Faire forums. But if you want to min/max Fan Faire, be aware there are no meal breaks once things get going. I recommend a hearty breakfast (even for folks like me whose idea of breakfast is a 16 oz latte), because you mightnot stop to eat until dinner, if then. I carry some high-protein snack bars on me (brought from home, of course, 'cause I'm cheap) ever since the year Niami Denmother saved my life with a bag of her famous Trail Mix.

Nothing is Free in Vegas: Everyone talks about the free drinks and free shows, but nothing, nothing is free in Vegas. Every "free" drink requires you to sit and gamble. Every "free" show requires you sit through a timeshare presentation. Locals advise not to be sucked in by free offers. Wait, I think maybe the bathrooms are free. And the over-processed air. 

The Nectar of Life: Coffee, that is. Every time I've been to Vegas there's been no coffee pot in the room. Nothing is free in Vegas: Bally's wants you to buy room service, rent one of their pots, or get a $6 Starbucks. Me, I pack a little travel coffee maker. Have I mentioned I'm cheap?  It cost me about $15, and easily paid for itself the first trip. It works great to heat water for tea too!

Want to be Wireless?: Most hotels in Vegas don't offer free Wi-fi, and Bally's is no exception. High-Speed internet is available in your room at a “nominal fee” for 24 hours. The script the nice young man read me last year specified you need your own laptop with an Ethernet card. Don't forget the cable!

Tech Toys: Don't forget your phone chargers, laptop peripherals, mp3 chargers, and all those other miscellaneous wires that are scattered around your desk!  If you leave one behind the only reasonable options will be to buy a replacement or do without. To my embarrassment, after saying that last year I forgot the proprietary cable for my camera and was forced to use crappy cell phone pictures during Fan Faire. At least 15 people attempted to read that card for me, too.

Forget Something? Fortunately there is a Walgreens and CVS on either side of the road right near the Paris, which is connected to Bally's. The tricky part is getting across the street, because it's a bit of a walk to the nearest corner. 

6-2-1: This is the third year I've recommended the 6-2-1 rule. My friend Rijacki told me at my first Fan Faire that to "function" at a con you need 6, 2, and 1 of three things:

  • showers
  • hours of sleep
  • meals

It works in any combination. The recommended configuration is 6 hours of sleep, 2 meals, and 1 shower. But it's been done as 2 showers, 6 meals, and 1 hour of sleep. I skipped this one day last year and regretted it badly the next day.

Leaving: If you're taking a shuttle to the airport, call the night before for a pickup.  If you're taking a cab, it's pretty quick to get one at the front door.  Check your room.  Check it again.  And again.  If you leave something there's a slim chance it'll be found and you can get it back, but don't hold your breath as it may be hard to find your cell phone in the giant box of abandoned cell phones at the lost and found.  Plan on being at the Las Vegas airport two and a half hours before your flight departs.

You can find more info from Calthine and the other Zam folks on their SOE Fan Faire wiki page.

For more information from us about Fan Faire, you can check out the official Fan Faire page or any of the following features we've posted: