“One does not simply walk into Comic Con.”
– A wise nerd in a meme on tumblr
With only about 20 days to go until San Diego Comic Con news, about programming, exclusives and off site events are starting to fly out of the studios. The official schedule won’t be out until probably next weekend, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start obsessing about how I’m going to spend my time. And also organizing…so much organizing. If you like planning and researching and obsessing this con is basically porn.
We’re already past badge purchase, hotel lotto, and plane tickets. I’ve even acquired off-site/after hour tickets to a few events. (The symphony! @midnight!) And pre-ordered a sweet mini Impala variant. So, I thought I’d just give out some scheduling, planning and travel tips that I hope are useful for any con or event you might be attending. (This post is focusing on the getting there prep. Next few post we’ll talk about organizing your con time.)
First things first. Get a binder. Mine is flexible with no big rings so that it will slide easily into my carry on and any bag I have with me at the con. Bask in its glory and be jealous of the Westeros map mousepad I got at SDCC 2011.
The binder is important. You want to print everything. Yes, we’re all nerds with lots of tech but its hard to get a good signal when there’s 130,000 nerds around. And batteries die. And hotel computers get busy. And you’ve got hotel reservations, shuttle arrangements, pre-orders, event tickets, exhibit hall maps with notes, a google calendar, and more. Those things also eat battery to pull up on your phone or tablet. So, print everything. Yes, even your google calendar SDCC schedule. Everything.
(As a member of the Supernatural fandom, I’m obligated to use at least one gif)
Packing: DON’T OVER PACK. I am the Queen of Over Packing because yes, I absolutely might need my docs, and my calf high boots, knee high boots, converse, running shoes and flip flops and something dressy to wear even though we won’t have time to go out during a four day con. But, no. Just take the most comfortable shoes that you can wear with everything. And a pair of flip flops. (Y’all I’m from the south. I flip flop for 80% of the year. I only own 3 pairs of socks! It is 100 degrees out.) If you’re not cosplaying, dress comfy casual. You’ll be walking and sitting most of the day. Bring a light sweater or hoodie for the air conditioned convention hall rooms and for the cooler San Diego evenings. And, if you are bringing a couple pairs of shoes, wear the larger pair (ie docs/boots) on the plane so they don’t take up room in your suitcase. Yeah, they might be a pain to unlace and take off at security, but that’s more room for your swag in your bag. (I apologize for that rhyme. I…am so sorry.)
Absolute must haves:
- Tech: portable battery charger. (You may be away from a wall socket for up to 12 hours. I got a great little charger from Gorrilla Gadgets.), phone, camera, laptop/tablet. I’m forgoing the laptop this year for space. I have a nice, travel, blue tooth keyboard from Logitech to use with my Nexus 7 tablet for blog posting at the end of the day.
- Something to do while in line: load up the kindle/tablet/phone with a book. (Throw some tv or movies on there for the flight as well.)
- Snacks that aren’t convention hall pizza. Throw a box of granola bars in your suitcase. You’ll eat them and they won’t come back with you.
- Hall H overnight gear. We’re all going to do at least one hall h night. Pack a blanket or a sleeping bag. San Diego gets downright chilly at 3am.
- A backpack. I know people like to use the large free bags for their loot. They’re great. And if you’re going for big stuff, that’s good. But, I find they hurt my shoulder and back by the end of the day. And they can be cumbersome. Take a nice backpack with some easier to access pockets for your tech gear. The growing weight all day is better distributed and its easy to tuck under your seat in panels.
- Some sort of extra bag/suitcase that can be checked on your flight home. Last year, my friend just put a smaller suitcase in his light packed larger suitcase. We used the second one to get stuff home with us. Note, we also fly Southwest so we each get 2 free checked bags plus a carry on. This year, I’m packing my duffle with clothes and packing that in my suitcase. If I’ve got a lot of take home stuff, I”ll just check the duffle or bring it on board on the way home.
Ok. So we’ve got our binder and we’re packed. The last travel step is ground transportation. There are a lot of people going to hotels from the San Diego airport. Some hotels have free shuttle transport. If yours doesn’t, I recommend making a reservation on Super Shuttle. They provide a discount code for SDCC travellers every year. They’re easy to get to at the terminal, and less expensive than a cab. Plus you get to chat with some nerds on the way to the hotel! Your shuttle will always be filled with nerds.
One more piece of travel advice before I close out this post and start obsessing over my schedule: Fly in early if you can. Coming in on Wednesday can be exhausting and yet I keep doing it. If you can squeeze in the extra day and hotel cost come in Monday or Tuesday. That’s what we’re doing this year. You will probably have to switch hotels on Wednesday due to hotel lotto outcomes, but that is pretty easy and still gives you time to stretch out and relax. The free SDCC shuttles start running on Wednesday so you can also jet over to the Town & Country to pick up your 4 day (no preview night) or Thursday single day badges!
And we’re ready to go! In my next few posts I’ll be freaking out about scheduling as my SDCC dance card starts filling up!