To make your convention worthwhile, an adventure that you'll never forget, follow these three pieces of advice.
1. Finding your niche makes it TWICE as fun. Whether it's taking pics/video, cosplaying, going to panels, going to performances, getting autographs, buying gear, just hanging out, or all of the above find something you love to. Some things will stick others won't. Only time will tell. That being said your first conventions will not be as good as your later ones in many ways. That's a non money back guarantee. If you really analyze what you like doing and do more of it you'll have tons of fun. I DJ for several rappers and to make things more fun I started taking pictures of other groups before and after we've performed. That's how I got good at capturing artists' movements in the moment. All I had to do was transfer my skills over into the cosplay and convention world. It's a little different, and I find myself posing people more but it's still the same concepts. It's alot of "work" so to speak, but it makes my conventions more memorable and fun for me. Also note that things can change quick almost daily. You may value taking pictures one day then going to panels another day, or mix it up during one day. You have to be flexible and just "flow with the go" like great MMA fighter Rickson Gracie said. But still have a plan, and if you have a daily plan you can knock out everything there is to do at a convention. This brings us to number two.
2. Check out the convention's program to make a schedule of events you want to go to. I used to just wing it, but after following a schedule I realized I do twice as much and discover a lot of new things versus not planning. At the last Anime Midwest I went to a voice acting panel and was lucky enough to learn some techniques, saw an acting workshop, learned about otaku rap, met fellow Youtubers, checked out the convention floor of vendors, checked out the Con Sweet that gave our free food, and checked out the rave party in ONE day with planning. That was the first day so it started with a bang.
To find things to do requires knowing what you value. Personally I value learning so for me the best way to do so is to go and explore things I've never seen or done before. Usually I have fun in panels as I scribble and jot down notes believe it or not, but I also go to a lot of other events. So I circle and mark up the program or just take a piece of paper and list the panels or events, rooms, and times for each day as my personal plan. Hey, if you get bored during a panel, do it there! If you don’t know what you value just get out there and experience things and you'll find something. The sooner the better because lines can be absurd at panels, events, and signings so knowing what you want to see gives you the time to get in line to see it. At first you may end up wasting alot of time in panels or in line getting signatures that you realized you don't really need or got nothing profound from, but you will find what you value through experience. People really lose out on alot if they don't go to panels or events. They seem lame like going to school, but there's alot of fun to be had in them. Check out the before pic of a near mint program from Anime Midwest, and the after which I’d rate as fair condition by CGC standards. JK, though who knows maybe one day in a post apocalyptic Fallout future those programs will be collector’s items graded by super mutant professionals.
3. Experience pays off so go to ALOT of conventions. LEVEL UP through experience!!!Just like playing any video game experience pays off. It pays off in planning for cheaper parking, how much money to bring so you don't have to pay ridiculous ATM fees, better snacks, what to bring, what hotel to stay at, and knowing what you like doing. I bring a water bottle, my camera, batteries, maybe a snack, and a backpack for loot. I know places around convention centers that are beyond average to eat or I just find them on Yelp so I don't waste my money eating at conventions. You'll find the best places to park by having veteran knowledge. There's often free spaces nearby if you know where to look, and there’s also deals for hotels.
If you want to have a superb experience at a convention definitely plan for it. Experience other conventions and see what your niche is while you're there. Go through the sometimes mind numbing taste of looking through the program and come up with a plan for each day or. Then with more experiences you'll refine your convention experience to the point where it's over 9000 everytime! I'm just SAIYAN.