In just 1 week San Diego California will be invaded by geeks and nerds and for five days the city will be overrun with superheroes, Hollywood, video games, toys and so much more. While you are never quite prepared for the insanity that we all subject ourselves to, there are many things that you need to know to help you get ready. If you plan ahead you will have a better experience at the convention. Starting today I will be giving you tips on how to get prepared to survive the gauntlet of SDCC. I have been going to SDCC for over 25 years and every year I try to help others to have a better convention experience. This years show is earlier than usual so I will post the other two guides in the next few days.
Now is the time to really start getting ready for SDCC. First you have hopefully saved some money for the trip because it can get quite expensive with the hotel cost, eating, and of course buying the super-duper can’t live without exclusive item. One thing to make sure of is to set a budget for the stuff that you are going to be buying at the con. Now you never know what you are going to see at SDCC until you get there but try to keep a budget in mind. Trust me it’s very hard to do. Just remember is it something that I can get after SDCC? Some things at SDCC can be found after the con. Not exclusives but regular items. It’s also good to remember that if you are going to be there for multiple days that a lot of the venders on Sunday sometimes blow stuff out because they don’t want to pay to ship it back to the warehouse or drag it back in the truck. So you can really find some good deals on stuff if you can wait. You can always check throughout the convention on the stock of the item and if it’s running low you might not want to wait for it. I have gotten some amazing deals on Sunday on stuff that rarely goes on sale. Fantagraphics usually does this, but never count on it.
Whatever you buy you have to bring home. So if you are driving make sure that you still have room to sit on the ride back home. If you are flying in then you are much more limited on what you can bring back on the plane without spending tons of money to take it with you on the plane. There is a FedEx station at SDCC convention center and you might want to use that if you plan on buying large or lots of items that you may not be able to take back with you on a plane, train or automobile (pun very much intended).
Holy Banana Batman!
Next up is packing some snacks to take with you during the day. First off the food at the convention center is dreadful for the most part. If you have to absolutely eat something from there I suggest getting a pretzel. For one the odds of getting food poisoning from a pretzel is pretty slim and the last couple of years wetzel pretzel has had carts in the convention center and their quality is better than the convention centers pretzels in the past. If you can get away during the convention and have lunch that will really help keep you going during the day. Unfortunately with all of the panels and other distractions you might not be able to go have a good meal during the day. But before you even head off to SDCC you should start now looking into snacks that you can take with you during the day to munch on if you don’t get a chance to eat a real lunch during the day. One of you best bets is if you live in Southern California is to hit up the 99¢ Only Stores that have a lot of pre packaged items like nuts, candy, and smaller snack size things that can be a great bargain. Another thing that you can buy or make yourself is trail mix that will give you a lot of energy during the day. Bananas are a great traveling fruit that will give you a boost and is better than a lot of junk food that is available.
One vegetable that does travel well after refrigerated before hand is carrots. They tend to stay fresh throughout the day. Raisins are another great portable item that are packaged in small boxes that travel well. Goldfish and Cheez-It’s also travel well and come in travel sizes. Another store that has a lot of good things food wise is Costco because a lot of food items come in bulk but are individually packaged on the inside. This is a great place to get dried fruit and beef or turkey jerky that is cheaper than most other places. Power bars and granola bars can be a great quick snack but make sure that it has a good amount of protein and not a ton of sugar. Stuff with lots of sugar does not last long. While snacks are important make sure that you bring water. Buy a good water bottle or get some bottled water to take with you to the convention. Keeping hydrated is the most important thing you need to do. Sodas and energy drinks will not hydrate you as well and they have tons of sugar in them. They are OK to have as long as the majority of your hydration comes from water. If you are flying in and have limited space to bring food and drinks there are still a few options to pick up some snacks locally. Your best bet is the Ralph’s grocery store that is just up from the convention center on G street (LINK TO LOCATION DETAILS) It’s a full size grocery store and is open 24 hours so that helps.
Dressing For Success
You want to think about clothing for the trip. While San Diego can be either cool or warm plan to have clothing for any change in the weather. Bring shorts and short sleeve shirts for sure because if you are standing outside in line for Hall H you may be out in the sun for a while and that can get very warm. Bring a light jacket because it can get pretty cool at night in San Diego and a lighter jacket takes up less room when packing. If you are planning to attend any parties or events like the Eisner Awards bring a nice shirt and slacks or a dress for the event. It’s one thing during the day to wear t-shirt and shorts but you want to dress a little nicer for going out to things at night. You don’t have to bring a suit and tie unless you are there for business and need it but put a little effort into looking nice and leave the geek chic wear at the hotel. While an outfit may look awesome at the convention it might not be the best choice for other events. I think the lady below has the best of both worlds with this amazing Fringe dress made from SDCC bags.
The other very important thing with clothing is to make sure that you have a fresh change of clothing for each day that you will be there. Also keep in mind that you might need an extra set of everything incase that you have to change your clothes during the day if you have an accident. The one thing to remember is that you never know who you might run into outside the convention center at a party, so you don’t want to look like a slob when you run in to a celebrity or comic creator. Another fashion accessory that you might want to bring is an umbrella. There have been many years where it has actually rained in July in San Diego. You should pack one just in case if you have the space.
The most important thing that you need to have are comfortable shoes. Now is the time to look into getting some new shoes for the trip. Make sure that if you do get new shoes for SDCC make sure that you wear them for at least a few weeks to break them in before the convention. Everyone has a favorite shoe my personal favorite is Skechers because I have a wide foot and they have some of the best selection of wide footwear. I very much recommend a good pair of sneakers because you are going to be on your feet pretty much all day. Also make sure that you wear socks because your feet will sweat during the day and if you are not wearing socks you could develop blisters that do not mix well with a five-day convention. Another good thing to bring along is blister bandages just in case. If you have a prone area on your foot then it’s best to make a preemptive strike with them before you hit the convention. You might want to pack foot or baby powder if your feet are sweating during the day. Shoe inserts such as Dr. Scholl’s that can help with being on your feet all day. Don’t buy cheap shoes because they will on offer the quality or support you will need for all of the walking that you are going to be doing. My current shoe of choice is the new Skechers Gowalk 3 that is super comfy and a very light shoe. Remember THE most important thing is comfortable shoes and your feet will thank you later.
Here Comes the Sun
Now is the time to invest in some really good sunscreen for the trip. Getting a sunburn sucks, getting a sunburn on a trip can be the worst experience of your life. You may think that you are going to be inside all day and most of the time you are. But remember people who it can take as little as 15 minutes of exposure to mid-day sun to get sunburned. Dermatologist recommends that you should wear a SPF 30 at a minimum. The one thing that is very important is that if you are sweating the sunscreen may only last up to 80 minutes so make sure that you take some with you to re apply during the day. Make sure that you apply the sunscreen on all of the exposed skin including your ears and if you have a your hair with a part in it make sure that you put some there also because your scalp can get burned also. You may want to get a comfortable hat to help block the sun from your head and face.
If you are going to wear sandals make sure that apply sunscreen to you feet because they can get burn very easily. Now is the time to make sure that you have sunscreen and make sure that it’s not outdated. If it’s close to expiring then you should pick up some newer ones. If you have very sensitive skin then one that you might want to try is Blue Lizard that does not contain harsh chemicals and is made in Australia. It’s very hard to find in the US but Walgreens carries it online only (LINK HERE) I have used it when I was at Disneyland all day and the stuff works really well. You have to make sure that you rub it in well because it’s a Zinc Oxide Formula that will be very white until you rub it in well. They have different formulas but I prefer the sport version because it seems to not sweat off that much. Make sure that you bring some aloe lotion just incase that you do get a sunburn. Also make sure that you get a small squeeze bottle to put some in or get a travel size to take with you during the day to re-apply it during the day especially if you are going to be in line for Hall H where you might be out in the sun for hours. This is also where the previously mentioned umbrella can come in handy for shade and sun protection. There are some clothing that has SPF fabric that you might also want to consider if you burn easily.
So that’s it for the first round. Check back and I will update other tips to help you have a better SDCC experience.