Well folks, it’s that time of year. That’s right! San Diego Comic Con. You say, “What does Comic Con have to do with carry on bags?” Well, nothing unless you count all the carry on size luggage and other weekend travel bags you may have to bring along on your trip down there. I recommend using the old pack a smaller bag in the room you have left in your big luggage, to haul all of your treasure home.
Anyway, Comic Con does have to do with traveling to unique places, and that’s one thing, besides luggage, that we aim to cover. I am a 4 year veteran of the convention and it never ceases to deliver. We are two and a half weeks out and we’re all set with our 4 day + preview night badges, our hotel reservation at the Marriott, next door, and our plane tickets. We even plan to arrive in Southern California a few days early so we can enjoy Universal Studios and Disneyland Resort.
The last few years of attending SDCC, I’ve mentally filed away several lessons learned that helped my experience be more enjoyable. I intend to share them with you today.
- Book a hotel that is refundable, as soon as you find out the dates for the following year’s convention. This will act as your backup hotel, and tends to be located somewhat farther away from the San Diego Convention Center. Do this so that if you can’t get the hotel you really want, you at least have a hotel to fall back on. After booking a refundable backup hotel, set up a standing appointment to search the hotel booking sites for the hotel you really want. Be prepared to pay BIG, the closer you get to the convention center, but I found it to be worth it after a long day of convention activities.
- 2 weeks before your departure, start a list of what you need to bring. Put everything on the list even down to how many pairs of underwear you plan to bring with you. Write down all your electronic gadgets and their cords, cameras, and also when to go to the bank for cash. When it comes closer to time to go, you can organize your list and even eliminate stuff you don’t need.
- Make a schedule of the events you would like to attend and order it by priority. Sure they give you a schedule of everything, but who wants to lug all of those pages around. Last year I created an Excel spreadsheet organized by time and color coded by priority. That way I knew my “Absolutely must see” events, my “See it if Ballroom 20 or Hall H is full” events, and my “See it if I have nothing else to do at the moment” events. WARNING, DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU GET THERE TO MAKE THIS SCHEDULE, you will panic and make dumb mistakes, or forget it altogether.
- Once you get to San Diego and all checked into your hotel, visit the nearby grocery store. If you get into Ballroom 20, and the panel you wish to see doesn’t start until much later, you will want snacks. The convention hall snacks are pricy and the lines tend to be longer than the time you’re given between panels. Plus, you don’t want to have to choose between going to the restroom or starving. I suggest compact snacks that don’t require refrigeration (i.e. granola bars, crackers, chips, dried fruit, nuts, candy, etc.) and water.
- Make friends with the people around you while attending panels alone. Offer to watch their non-valuables when they have to dash off to the restroom. Then, maybe they will return the favor.
- Get on Twitter and follow SDCC-related tweets. People tweet about line conditions, exclusive offers on the convention floor, celebrity sightings and all things in between. Some of the information tweeted is vital. I particularly like following @SD_Comic_Con, @Comic_Con, @Crazy4ComicCon, #SDCC, #HallH, #Ballroom20.
These are just some tips that came to mind. There are a lot more tips at the Toucan Blog – the official Blog of SDCC and the new Under the Tents Blog, which is unofficial, but still good. With that, have a great convention and hope to see you there.