It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Montreal Comiccon is back! In honor of the season, I’ve put together some convention floor tips and helpful advice for first time con-goers that will help make the experience as fun and stress-free as possible.

Daleks invade the Masquarade © Girls on Games / Catherine Smith-Desbiens

© Girls on Games (via Catherine Smith-Desbiens)

Press ‘X’ to open your Map

Knowing your way around the convention center makes all the difference when making your way to and fro.

Make use of the map available in the con booklet and locate any photo ops, signings, ATMs and panels ahead of time. Having at least a general idea of specific locations will help alleviate stress if you fall behind schedule and find yourself late to the Q&A you’ve been looking forward to.

TIP: Use the Montreal Comiccon app, put together a personalized itinerary to help keep yourself on schedule! Take advantage of the customizable notifications to keep yourself on time for each event.

Montreal Comiccon 2014

© Girls on Games (via Leah Jewer)

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

Dealing with long lines, lengthy waits and big crowds will be a part of your day-to-day con life. Getting frustrated (while understandable) does no one any good. Including yourself.

Instead, and if you’re comfortable doing so, use these waits as an opportunity to get to know other con-goers. Chances are, if you’re in line for the same autograph session you already have something in common. Striking up a conversation can mean you walk away with one more person attending your Battlestar Galactica marathon next month.

TIP:  Downtown Montreal is a great spot for games such as Pokémon GO. You can easily meet fellow trainers and get in on a raid or two.

Comic book vendor booth © Girls on Games / Catherine Smith-Desbiens

© Girls on Games (via Catherine Smith-Desbiens)

“What’re ya Buyin?”

There will be shiny, amazing things everywhere you look at Montreal Comiccon. Each and every variant, statue and plushie will call your name but beware the siren’s call of the merchandise.

If you’re going in to the con with specific items in mind, make sure to price check ahead of time. Depending on an item or series’ popularity, prices can be marked up well past their going price online.

TIP: Keep an eye out for booths using the US cover price of trade paperbacks and manga. The few dollars you’ll save can amount to another purchase farther down the vendor road.

Companion cube plushies on sale at a vendor booth © Girls on Games / Catherine Smith-Desbiens

© Girls on Games (via Catherine Smith-Desbiens)

During the last day of the con, keep an eye out for better-than-average deals. Some exhibitors (especially out-of-towners) aren’t really looking forward to packing everything up and bringing it back home with them, so they’ll be looking to unload certain merchandise at a discount.

TIP: Everyone loves a good hardcover collection of their favorite series but they can weigh a ton (as can other items after a while) so, unless a deal is way too good to pass up or you have a hotel or car close by, make any heftier purchases towards floor closing time. Your shoulders will thank you for it.

Cosplay of Sand People from Star Wars © Girls on Games / Catherine Smith-Desbiens

© Girls on Games (via Catherine Smith-Desbiens)

“Hero, your health is low! Do you have any potions or food?”

While Montreal Comiccon isn’t SDCC size just yet, it’s still a busy weekend filled with tons of things to do and see. While great, all that fun stuff can be downright exhausting, time consuming and a bit overwhelming.

Make sure you remember to eat and stay hydrated throughout the day and get a solid chunk of sleep before diving back into the fray each morning. Don’t be afraid to take a breather and leave the convention floor for a quiet(er) hallway, either. After all, you’ll only have a good time for as long as you feel up to it.

TIP: While food available on-site is convenient, it’s pricey. Depending on your ticket level, check out if there is a re-entry line to the con and if you won’t be waiting forever and a day, seek out some nearby restaurants or cafes. You’ll get a lot more bang and quality for your buck.

Montreal Comiccon 2014

© Girls on Games (via Leah Jewer)

Conventions like Montreal Comiccon are meant to bring like-minded people together so they can unashamedly celebrate their passions with others. That means many different types of fans and accompanying interests. From those just discovering the Secret Six to those sporting the highest quality replica Starfleet uniforms, it is a time and place for everyone. Make the best of your time there, get to know others, see and do awesome things and make it a weekend to remember.

We’ll see you there!