I've finally done it - the other night I bought memberships for my wife and I to attend Loncon3 - we're going to Worldcon in 2014.
I've been toying with the idea since London won the bid for the 72nd Worldcon... After all, a lot of great SF has come out of the UK since, well, since the beginning with Mary Shelley, HG Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, and on down through Arthur C Clarke, and into the modern era with giants like Gaiman, not to mention contributions to comics by folks like Moore, and TV fair like Doctor Who and Red Dwarf. It's fitting that London would get another turn to be the focal point of fandom. While there isn't a lot of info available on the con website yet (and, to be fair, I don't think anyone would expect a full program this early in the game), what they do have in terms of guests and venue looks interesting. And, hey, it's a Worldcon - it's guaranteed to be cool! The other reason for my interest in this particular con is that I've always wanted to see Britain, but, for various reasons, I haven't been able to make it happen yet (my wife has, a few times, and she's always eager to return). Now, I've got the con to provide some extra incentive to finally get on with it.
The con may be more than a year away, but I think for a fan pilgrimage like this, it's actually a good idea to buy memberships early. For the con, it means more support up front - not having organized a con, I don't know if this is helpful in terms of gauging potential attendance or paying for infrastructure, but it's got to be nice knowing that support is building early on. For me, as an attendee, booking early means getting a lower rate, because every other con I've attended has always raised membership prices as the months pass and the con gets closer. But the big advantage of buying early, especially as a fan traveling internationally, is that it spreads out the expenses: rather than wait until just a couple of months beforehand to take care of all the arrangements in one shot, I can pay for the memberships now, wait a few months until the flight schedules and hotels become available, book and pay for them, then, in the months after that, book and pay for other post-con travel arrangements. By the time the actual trip arrives, everything's out of the way, except for ground transportation there, meal expenses, miscellaneous purchases and incidentals.
Now it's a matter of making the rest of our travel plans. Years ago, I met a guy who'd been to every Worldcon, everywhere, since he'd become an adult and started making his own money to pay for the trips. Problem was, that was all he did. He came home immediately after the cons ended. Never stayed around to actually see anything of the cities and countries he'd visited. Kinda sad, really. Not my style though. If I'm going to take the trouble to go overseas, I'm going to make sure I actually stick around for a bit and see some of the place. So, in this case, we'll probably make it a 3 week trip: the con, plus a couple of weeks of touring around. That's the other advantage of booking our memberships early: plenty of time to start planning.
We've already started making lists of the things we want to see and do, and I'm open to any recommendations that more seasoned travelers or UK residents might have. What would you suggest? Where are the great places to eat? What are some of the must-see sights? Anything with a particular SF element that's worth checking out?