I did not expect to be writing this a mere two days before I left for YALC. Back in 2016, I wrote a YALC survival guide and not only did I promote it for last year’s convention, I also planned to do it this year. However, after reading it, I cannot in good faith promote it when it just feels so outdated! And so, here is the new and improved YALC Survival Guide for 2018.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or visiting for the first time, I hope this advice gives you more clarity. All without breaking the bank, getting lost, or succumbing to the heat.
Tackle The Heat
Welcome to summer 2018. It’s heckin’ hot. You know where else is hot? Olympia London. So the last few YALCs have not been too hot. However, it is still an indoor space with lots of people inside. There is air conditioning apparently, and I’ve heard here and there that it’s going to be much stronger and in full force this weekend. But please remember to stay hydrated and as cool as you can. Embrace the life of a cucumber. Keep your chill.
I would recommend the basics such as a refillable water bottle, but also maybe portable fans (battery powered or hand powered) and even cooling spray. People are also suggesting cold compresses, even flannels to use in the toilets for a quick wash. I want to trust the sources that say that air con is going to be better, but also remember that trains, Airbnbs, and the tube you may not be so lucky in.
Look After Your Back
In my last survival guide, I suggested taking a backpack along with some tote bags. For starters, you don’t need to bring any. Last year I accumulated about five tote bags just by existing in the convention centre. Publishers and swag table staff are constantly giving out tote bags, so keep the space in your luggage for the bags you’ll be recieving rather than the ones you’re taking.
As for a backpack? This year, due to the heat, can be tricky. I’ve seen other attendees suggest pull alongs and shoppers. That’s certainly an option, and would do wonders for back and shoulder pain. I’m gonna be taking a backpack, but only because I love mine so much that I cannot be without it. I’m Kanken trash, ok?
But look after your back because you will be lugging so much around. Pack light, take only the bare necessities because every other crevice of your bag will be filled with books and swag.
YALC; Where No Food Exists
Due to the excitement, the buzz, and the standing around you’ll be doing, you might forget to eat. And LFCC really don’t like to provide food. Here’s a tip; bring food. Bring food that can’t melt or get crushed. Make sure to stop and eat for a bit, even if you’re running around during proof drops. Sometimes stalls in YALC and LFCC give out free food such as cookies and cupcakes, but if you want something substantial, it’s best to bring your own. There is one cafe on the YALC floor but the queues get pretty big and the prices can be a bit extortionate. Save the money for the books!
Comfy Shoes = Comfy Bookworm
Standing. You’re gonna be doing a lot of it. Surprisingly, there aren’t that many places to sit at YALC. I’m even debating bringing a camping chair just because last year I sat on the floor so often. But the best way to combat swollen, blistering feet are soft trainers, comfy walking boots…or slippers. Look after your tootsies and don’t walk around in Doc Martens like I have done the past two years.
*Hacker Voice* I’m In.
Getting into YALC might sound like a doddle. And it is, once you’ve figured it out. But stepping off the overground at Kensington Olympia and staring up at this massive building swarming with about five different lines of Harley Quinn and Spiderman cosplays can look a little daunting. If you’re reading this post, I’m assuming you have a YALC entry ticket as opposed to the standard (or VIP fancy) LFCC tickets.
SO, what you’re gonna do is ignore all the long-ass lines that snake around the whole building. There’s only one line for us book nerds, and it’s usually the shortest of them all (but gets longer year after year). Staff are situated outside telling you which line to join, however I have had trouble in the past with staff not even knowing what YALC is. I have also accidentally stood in the wrong line for AN HOUR before realising I could just walk in with my YALC ticket.
Here is a map of where the YALC queue is. If you’re not sure if you’re in the right queue, just shout ‘IS THIS THE YALC QUEUE?’ and the people there will no doubt shout back ‘YES’.
YALC can seem like a pretty daunting place, and even the build up can put people off even attending. But YALC is a fantastic place to meet new people, and especially everyone you already know online. There’s times for meeting up afterwards and going to pub quizzes and book shopping, yet there’s also space to be on your own for a while and power down a little. The book community is an inclusive, respectful place that may seem overwhelming at times, but is filled with nothing but love. Never feel like you have to walk around the floor alone, not going up to people because they have ‘more followers’ or feel like a big blogger/booktuber. When it comes to YALC, we are all the same, and we all love meeting new people. So, if you feel comfortable, do say hello! (Especially to me!)