My strategy is to make a one-pager grid (I use Excel). One hour per line, you can get the whole convention on it if you use both sides of the page.
Aside from listing the events for which I am registered, I include things I might want to go see and do. Maybe something to try to get in to with a generic, or the costume walk, or even a game I might just want to watch like a championship. Maybe a film that looks interesting and would let me sit and decompress if I need it. If you are new and haven't memorized the exhibit hall hours, you can include those on the grid.
Depending on who you're traveling with, you can also include events that others are scheduled for (eg. so I know where my teenagers are).
Mine was color coded, broken down by day, hour, and person (only 2 so no biggie). It also included event location down to the room number and the approximate walking time between our individual events. I'm inordinately proud of it. It made deciding to add events we wanted to do together or separately after our original ticket purchases much easier.
My family would tease my Czech grandma about needing a plan and a schedule for vacation. Grandma was right.
Also, I can't believe no one has mentioned this one but...
Wear comfortable shoes with a lot of support. You're going to do a fair bit of walking and standing. Make sure your shoes aren't going to rub, cause blisters, or otherwise leave you hurting at the end of the day.
Try to go outside for a little bit and get some fresh air and sunshine. I know it is hot and the big yellow circle burns us, but it is good in limited doses. Besides...outside is where the beer and ice cream vendors are. Beer, ice cream, fresh air, vitamin D. Going outside also helps get the funk out of your nose Saturday afternoon/Sunday Morning cause by the folks who don't believe in the 1 from the 5, 2, 1 rule or in deodorant.
Just so you all know we begin shipping a couple days after Ship to Me ends (June 14 this year)
We print all USPS packets first alphabetically by last name. It generally takes us 2 weeks to ship all of our packets.
So you can expect to get yours in the time period 3 to 5 days after it ships.
You can track your shipment on your "My Packets" page to know exactly where it is and when it should be delivered!
It begins it's journey in Seattle.
Getting a hotel that feeds you breakfast is always nice. The cost is rolled into something you're already paying, and it usually keeps you going for a bit.
If you can bear to miss out on about a half hour of exhibit hall time, 5:30 is the best time to try for dinner. Generally at 5:30 the wait at nearby restaurants is minimal; if you wait until 6 the wait becomes an hour or more simply because of the huge rush from the closing hall.
When Mike says it takes half a day to see the entire exhibit hall, that's just to literally walk the entire hall at a moderate place. If you plan to stop, talk to vendors, play demos, and so forth, block out an entire day or even more. My wife has started printing a map and bringing colored markers so she can color code booths we want to return to, with things like purple = demo we want to try, green = maybe come back and buy if the budget holds, etc.
IF you get in on Wednesday, take the time to walk the halls and get a lay of the land so you know where your events are and best way to get to them. Also, it get to see things that may interest you when the con starts.
IF doing WILL CALL know it is open 24 hours starting at noon on Wednesday, so, you can pick up packets late at night.
For your walking, I recommend support socks. Runners and folks with heart issues have worn them for years, they come in a ton of cool styles. Your feet will feel brand amazing. If you don’t want to get support socks for the con, putting a second pair of socks in your backpack and switching out at your low point and save your day. Bring a ziplock for the sweaty, dirty ones. (I know people who would just toss them). A clean, dry pair of socks can make you feel renewed. If you’re going to be gaming late (it is a con) consider packing a travel antiperspirant-deodorant in your bag and refreshing in the bathroom. This does not count as a shower, but running all over downtown Indy can make you sweat, and you don’t want new gamer buddies to think of you as That gamer.
Keep an eye out for kids - they’re the gamers of our future, and the disabled, they are us. Just slower.
This year's tip: Stay home & game remotely with friends.