I've mentioned this in possibly as many as a few thousand places online, but in case your eyes haven't been bombarded with this fact quite enough, know that I AM GOING TO WORLD FANTASY NEXT WEEK.
(Thieves, note that my house will be occupied by other people while I'm gone.)
In case you've ever wondered what I do to get ready for a convention, I'm going to tell you what I do to get ready for a convention.
I mention everywhere online that I'll be at the convention. That way other people who are going can prepare themselves to be chatted with by me at any moment when they're there. Because I do chat. I chat a lot.
I look at the membership list, and take note of anyone I'd particularly like to see while I'm there (and sometimes anyone I'd especially love to avoid, but let's try to stay positive). That gives me the chance to think about any questions or comments I have for them, to read their books or stories if I can, and to email them ahead of time to ask about meeting up if that seems like an appropriate thing to do. Different things apply for different people. I'm likely to see a range of old friends, new acquaintances, and authors I admire who have never heard of me. There are many, many people in the latter category.
I look at the programming schedule, and get an idea of which panels I want to see. If I'm being particularly organized, I'll try to figure out some other things in advance, like times it would be best to get some lunch (tricky, when there are good panels competing for my attention), and when I can set up meetings, if I need to, or hang out in the bar, or take emergency naps if I happen to have stayed up all night talking to people.
I plan and pack what I'm going to wear to the parties.
I pack way too much reading material. More than I could read in the timespan of the convention, even if I had nothing else to do then. Despite knowing with absolute certainty that I WILL buy books in the dealers' room, and that at many conventions (especially World Fantasy), I WILL be handed an entire and rather large bag of free books to take home. This overpacking of reading material is unavoidable and without remedy.
I pack too many pairs of shoes.
I see how much room is left in my luggage for my daytime clothes and pack accordingly, aiming for things that all go together and that can be layered, or not, for different weather conditions.
If I'm going to be on any panels, I prepare for them. This involves thinking about what the topic could possibly mean, writing some notes about it, thinking about how a moderator I don't know might interpret the topic's meaning differently, writing some notes about that, looking up some things online, and hoping for the best. If I'm the moderator, I write down enough notes and questions to establish a think tank on the topic, and to possibly begin a new career as an expert in that topic. I also assemble dossiers on my fellow panel-members. But I'm an underachiever, and you might want to do more if you're ever in the completely enviable position of being the moderator.
I get online and mention a few more times that I'm going to the convention.
And that, right there, is my simple and elegant method of preparing to go to a convention. Once I get to the convention, practically everything I've planned and prepared for will change in unexpected ways, or get canceled completely by events beyond my control, but then I end up with good stories to tell at the parties, so that's all right.