It could easily be described as Nerd Mecca. Booths lined with fandom merchandise, celebrities waiting to sign autographs or take photos, and crowds of costumed fans eager to show their love for their favorite films, books and characters. Whether it’s a local affair or San Diego’s annual extravaganza, visiting a Comic Con is truly a fun and rewarding experience. When attending a Con, it can be easy to be swept away by the excitement of it all and forget yourself somewhere down the line. Here’s a few helpful tips to remember based on my own experience at Cons to help things run more smoothly for everyone involved.

1. Get to the doors early.
There is nothing more anxiety-inducing than having to practically sprint to make it to that panel discussion you’re just dying to see. Plan ahead and give yourself extra time to accommodate for things like the weather, traffic, or other minor hindrances along the way. You’ll likely arrive with time to spare, and can then relax and scope out the Con in its entirety.

In addition, once you get in, if you happen to have a scheduled time for photos, a panel, or anything similar, find the room or the place you must be in in order to stand in line when it’s time. Waiting until the last minute can lose you your place in line.

2. Celebrities are people too.
Please, please, PLEASE don’t scream or flail upon seeing your favorite celebrity. Excitement is perfectly fine and they expect it, but going overboard can be very uncomfortable for the celebrity and those around you. Remember that this person rolled out of bed that morning with their hair all mussed from sleep, exactly as you did, and treat them as you would anyone else.

I attended a Con in 2013 to meet two of the actors from The Hobbit, and the screaming/flailing/squawking when they arrived made them visibly uncomfortable, which in turn made them more hesitant to speak with people when they came up to meet them. Please be sure that your excitement doesn’t make things weird for everyone else.

3. Be open.
Take photos, bring your friends! Heck, make friends with the people around you in line for panels and such! Ask them where they’re from, what they do, what they’re there for. People at Cons are some of the kindest people you will ever meet, and you never know what a simple conversation and shared interest can do. One of my friends is a young woman from Montreal that I met in line to meet the two Hobbit actors in Boston. We’ve since kept in touch and she sent me a card for Christmas, as well as a signed photo of my favorite actor just because she thought of me.

She’s seriously the coolest, and I can never repay her for her kindness. Don’t be afraid to make small talk. You never know who you might meet in line.

All tips aside, whether it’s your first Con or 50th, remember to relax, have fun, and enjoy the time while it lasts. Believe me, it flies right by.