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7.01.2015

San Diego Comic Con Survival Tips

Comic Con Tips!

·    *  Dress comfortably, especially shoes. Your feet will kill from all the standing and walking, this is not the time to break in a brand new pair of shoes.

·     * Carry drinks and snacks. Seriously. Do this. There is very limited food in the convention center, it is pretty much all junk, it is all expensive, and everyone in the center will be in line for it when they get hungry. Fruit, granola bars, trail mix, bottled water and juice are your friends. You don’t want to be hangry when you’re waiting in line or about to meet your favorite celeb or artist.

·  *    When you do go to eat, try to eat at non-peak times. This is obviously more difficult in the morning as everyone tries to cram in breakfast before heading to the convention center and the lines for coffee border on insanity. Try waiting till 2 or 3pm before going for lunch, it is far less crowded. This is also where having snacks comes in.
·      Don’t be afraid to travel a bit to find a place to eat. You may have to walk 6 or 10 blocks but it is worth it to find good food and a less crowded restaurant. Don’t worry, they aren’t New York City blocks so they aren’t that long =)

*    *You will get so much swag, it’s overwhelming. Remember, you don’t HAVE to take everything people try to hand you (I have a serious problem with this, though. I took pretty much everything =P) You also have to keep in mind you will be dragging all this crap around with you until you can get to your hotel to dump your bag. Try to do a bag dump at least once a day, more depending on how much stuff you get.
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·  *    Speaking of your bag, the SDCC bag is a great collectible but if you overload it, it will get really uncomfortable to carry and it will probably rip. A great lightweight foldable/packable bag is your friend. These are fabulous: https://baggu.com/shop/bigbaggu

A good crossbody bag is also a good idea. Backpacks I would tend to avoid because you will smack people with it when you try to turn around and the convention floor is packed full of people. Also, people could take things out of it without you knowing.

·    *  Chargers, Chargers, Chargers. No, not the football team. Cell phone, iPod, camera, iPad, Kindle, handheld gaming consoles, etc. You want to have everything fully charged, nothing could be worse than happening upon Tom Hiddleston in a random hallway and being unable to take a picture with him because your phone is dead. I strongly advise bringing a power strip with you to the hotel, they even make excellent small travel size ones that you can throw in your bag to bring into the con. http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B000F9YN2M?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s01
Mine is now 3 years old, has been to Europe and back, and is still going strong. I can get at least 5-6 full charges of my phone, iPod & Kindle (in whatever combination) off of it.

·    *  Carry at least two new Sharpies with you, a black one and a silver one, along with something to sign just in case. Your SDCC program guide is good for this plus you need it carry it with you in order to know what activities are going on during the con. (You may also want some highlighters to go through the program guide to mark some of your most desired activities.)

·   *   Carry hand sanitizer and tissues. The former for obvious reasons, the latter in case you get the stall that’s out of toilet paper.

·   *   Take Airborne before your plane journeys and at least twice during the con. Daily would be better. Avoid the dreaded con crud!

·  *    Cell phone reception is pretty non-existent on the convention floor, it’s like a black hole in there. If you split off from your friends, make sure to select a place and time to meet up later on. (Ours was by the restrooms close to the snack bar.)

·   *   Don’t be married to a rigid schedule of Musts. The best things can happen when you fly by the seat of your pants. Don’t be afraid to wing it. I wandered into a great panel just walking around poking my head into open rooms.

·    *  Be alert! Eavesdropping, not in a negative way, but listen because people talk about things that are happening inside and outside the convention center. You may find your way into something that you never would have found otherwise.

·   *   Keep your eyes peeled! The best part of SDCC is that the actors, artists, directors, etc. are fans too! They walk the convention floor, eat in the restaurants, are in the lobbies of hotels. Michael Sheen was just strolling on the convention floor and we got to take pictures with him. I complimented a cute guy’s leather jacket as he bent down to tie his shoe outside the Westin & once he stood up, realized it was Thomas Jane. They are everywhere! =)

·  *    Following along with the above: if you do see someone famous, please try to play it cool. I know it’s difficult and excitement is absolutely going to shine through but try not to freak them out by being a creeper. Screaming, crying, or professing your undying desire to have babies with them is probably not the best way to go. OTOH, telling them you love their work, or whomever your favorite character is, or thanking them for being generally awesome is totally cool. 
   (Editorial note: my friend’s son saw Dominic Monaghan trying to creep unnoticed through a sea of fans in the Gaslamp Quarter one evening. Instead of freaking out & alerting all and sundry to Dominic’s presence, which would have gotten him mobbed, Tyler gave him the cool guy nod [because he IS a seriously cool guy], Dominic returned the nod, and they went on their respective ways. And Tyler has a neat story to tell for the future.)

·   *   Do go outside the convention center. There are great things happening all around San Diego. Take a walk, get some air, soak up the gorgeous weather. You never know what you’ll find.

·    *  Please be respectful, patient and polite. To your fellow attendees, to the volunteers, to your harried hotel and wait staff, to the shuttle drivers, to everyone! You will wait in long lines, you will get tired, you will be hungry, and so will everyone else. Being an asshole will get you nowhere. (I will say I had absolutely no problem with this. Everyone I met was lovely and so happy to be at SDCC. The good mood is infectious!)

·  *   Ask permission to take pictures of a cosplayer unless they are already posing for pictures. The level of cosplay at SDCC is mindboggling.

·   *   If you can’t get into a panel, see if your favorites are signing at one of the booths. Even if you can’t get an autograph ticket, you can at least lay eyes upon them and get a picture. (I saw the Vampire Diaries cast [gorgeous but tiny!] and Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki [tall and gorgeous!] as they were walked through the crowd to the signing booth.)

·    *  Talk to your fellow attendees. Get to know your line buddies. Discuss your favorite comics, movies, books, celebs, etc. Share what you plan to do during the con. This is another great way to find out what’s going on in and outside of the con. The entire vibe during SDCC was overwhelmingly joyful. People are excited to be there, not just because it’s SDCC, but because they can find like-minded people who love the same thing they do and celebrate their fandom freely without people shitting on it.

·    *  Try to buy intelligently. You will want to buy ALL THE THINGS. All the comics, all the t-shirts, all the collectibles. You cannot do it. Try to limit yourself to buying things you can only get there. You can probably get those 25 comic books you want to buy because they are 50% off but you can probably get them from your local comics shop. (But if that’s what you’re there for and you absolutely must have them, by all means do it!) That SDCC only item or piece of original artwork though? Yeah, buy that. But only after you cruise all the booths. You may see something you fancy more two booths down. If you miss out on something, it just wasn’t meant to be yours.

·   *   Have cash! Lines at the ATM in the con are murder. (Hopefully most vendors now have Square, etc. but when I went in 2010, cash was king.)

·   *   Strongly consider mailing things home. USPS flat rate boxes are free at the post office, take up almost no space in your suitcase, and may save you from overweight bag fees from your airline. Bring tape with you, you can order your postage online at usps.com, print it out in your hotel's business center, and just drop the box off at the post office (most have a dropoff box in the lobby for after hours packages)

·    *  Have a sense of humor. Shit happens. Not everything will be perfect. Someone will snag that last limited edition Funko POP you wanted and you will see more beautiful art than you have funds to buy but you are still in nerd heaven and millions of people would kill to be at SDCC. Enjoy it!


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