I went to DEF CON this year! I don't care to do some kind of lengthy write-up nor do I think I could write anything to warrant one. Instead, here's some simple bullet-points of reflection from a first-timer's perspective.
It was fun, and it feels good to be almost functional again.
The pre-registration and the health workers inspecting IDs were clearly not logging anything or otherwise doing any suspicious. I hope it does not make a return but it really wasn't a problem given the circumstances.
Caesar's glittery shitmounds of hotels are literally falling apart.
The noise of the city and hotel made it very difficult to sleep.
Food is expensive, moreso than I was prepared for. Drinks (alcohol or otherwise) are even more expensive and the Caesar's bartenders aren't very lenient if you don't already know what drinks you want by name.
The conference was in desperate need of more activities but I suspect this isn't a typical issue and there were still things to do.
Time is best spent going deeper into a single thing. Go buy something to solder and spend a few hours doing that if you have nothing better to do.
Ignore the advice to fear the HACK3RM3N; bring a laptop and take necessary precautions. A laptop is insurance for having something to do or work on even in slower moments.
Walking into random talks, demo labs, villages, etc. is also a good way to kill time.
Don't wake up too early, there's fuck all to do before 9AM local time.
They say to bring a ton of cash but this is really only needed for purchases within the conference itself; paying with a card was available everywhere else. How much cash you need will depend on how much alcohol you will consume within the venue itself and how much merch/vendor gear you buy. And on that note, go straight from linecon to the merch line if you want any.
They say to dress light for the desert heat but the casinos are freezing and is where most of your time is spent. Dress modularly and carry a bag to transition between the temperature changes.
They say people get yelled at for taking photos and videos of crowds but people do it constantly. I never once saw someone call it out.
Just because it's a sticker doesn't make it not just an advertisement.
Attendants are extremely nice and it's easy to socialize.
The electronic challenge badges are really neat and also great opportunities for creating social interactions where they otherwise wouldn't have occurred.