#1 Research curriculum/dealers
Look into the different dealers that will be at your convention. Decide ahead of time which booths you would like to look at and what questions you have about their material. Remember everyone thinks their material is best. Going in without a plan will make deciding which one you want more difficult.
There is so much to purchase at a convention beyond curriculum. It is easy to buy things that you don't need. I also go over what book & curriculum I need. I price them online and keep that list with me while I shop. If the book is the same price or lower than my list - I buy it at the convention; if it is more I take into consideration what shipping would cost. I also set aside extra money for things that I might decide to buy while I am there. If you hear a speaker that you really like, you may want to buy some of their books to take home.
Our convention allows us to bring in food. Some do not, I know. I always take snacks and drinks with me. Sessions at our conference go all day. There are not specific times for food breaks. Having food with me keeps me from getting hungry or cranky.
Even if you are sitting in sessions most of the day, there is still a lot of walking. I recommend wearing layers because not all of the rooms are the same temperature. If you are in a small room that is full of people - it tends to get hot quickly. If you are in a large room with only a few it seems to be chilly. So wears layers that you can take off or put on!
Trevor & I have always gone together. The beauty of this is we both attend different sessions. This year several moms from our homeschool group are going. If we all attend different sessions we can share what we learned with each other - without having to attend each session ourselves.
#7 Pick lectures before you go
I know some conventions have you sign up for sessions when you register. The one we attends does not. I have been reading over the schedule for weeks. This way you have plenty of time to read about the sessions you want to attend.
There is so much to do and so much to see. Pace yourself, remember to take breaks. If you are sitting through a session and you are not enjoying it or it isn't what you thought it would be - LEAVE. It may seem rude but your time is valuable; don't waste it on something you can not use.
#8 Be prepared to talk to everyone
I still haven't figured out if homeschoolers are just overly friendly or if everyone is lonely. But everyone seems to enjoying talking. This caught me off guard the first year. Every session I attended the people sitting around me wanted to talk. So if you have a tendency to be a little shy like me be prepared to talk; to the people in the sessions, the people sitting next to you in the hallway between sessions, the dealers and speakers in the exhibit halls. Just be prepared to talk!
You will get lots of great ideas while you are gone. You will not be able to use all of them and keep your sanity. Pick one thing you want to do when you get home. When you have mastered that, move on to another thing.
This is the one time a year we leave our kids with the grandparents and have alone time. Even though you are there to learn - remember to take time to recharge your batteries. Have some fun!