I can’t believe that soon I will be coming up on my fourth year visiting San Diego during Comic Con, as well as my very FIRST time visiting D23 Expo! You may recall a couple of years ago I released an article about How to Prepare for the Con. While much of what I wrote back then still holds true, I have learned even more these past couple of years. So, it was only natural to post an updated version: How to Prepare for the Con 2: Electric Boogaloo!
Make a List, or Two…or Three
I used to limit myself to just making a packing list. In actuality I now find myself making several lists before departing on vacation. For instance, a week or so in advance I like to take an inventory of all the toiletries, makeup, and hair supplies I have so that I can make a list of what I still need. This also helps if you’re still lacking some last minute items for your cosplay! I also make a packing list. My packing list has expanded compared to what it was a couple of years ago. Third, I make a list of things not to forget before we leave the house. Feel free to snag the list I’ve posted below. This list was created by Sarah Fox aka @FangirlFluent. It has lines to add stuff that might be missing, and feel free to cross off stuff that is not applicable to you. If you are cosplaying I highly suggest making a whole separate list for each of your cosplays so that you are sure not to forget anything. For further detail you can check out my Cosplay Guide for Newbs!
Make a Schedule
Unless you plan to spend all of your time waiting in a line to get into Hall H, it’s a good idea to make yourself a schedule of events for each day of the con. This way you will have a much easier time keeping track of where you need to be and when. It would be a shame to miss out on an off-site event or a panel taking place at one of the less crowded convention halls that you really wanted to go to. What may be extra helpful is if you create an excel spreadsheet for your schedule and then send it to yourself to have as a Google Sheets document on your phone. The less stuff you have to carry around and the less you have to keep stopping to grab things out of your bag, the better.
Pack Your Con Bag…But Don’t Over Pack!
I’ve always been extremely thorough in packing my con bag because I never wanted to run into a situation in which I needed something and didn’t have it, thus needing to spending more money. While it is a good thing to be prepared there is such a thing as being over prepared. If you over pack that con bag, and then start adding stuff you get from the con floor, eventually that bag is really going to start weighing on you. One thing I was notorious for was packing way too many snacks! While having snacks on hand is important and convenient, don’t overdo it.
Know When it’s Time to Take a Break
Okay so this isn’t so much a preparing for the con tip as it is a con courtesy warning. It’s okay to take a break from the con and walk away for a while so that you can grab some real food (and a shower!). My first time visiting Comic Con was overwhelming. When I and my fellowship of the nerds started to lose steam we tried to find somewhere off to the side to re-charge. So we did. We plopped down on the floor and had some snacks and water. The people at SDCC do not like that. If you are found sitting around anywhere on the con floor, even if it is off to the side, you will be asked to get up. So have an escape plan, and know when and where you need to go to take a break from the con.
Have a Budget
If there’s one thing I have found to be true every single year, it’s that having a budget is very important. You need to have a pre-con budget in which you determine how much you are willing to spend on lodging and airfare. If you are like my nerd family then maybe you can find a group of people you like (and know well enough!) to rent an Air BNB for the week. Try to pay attention to the airfare trends by downloading apps such as Hopper, Cheap Flights, Momondo, as well as apps for the airlines you might be taking. Sometimes you’ll find airfare is cheapest directly through the airline, but other times you may find better deals elsewhere.
You also need to plan out how much you are going to allot yourself for food every day. As tempting as it is to just eat cheap, pre-packaged foods the whole time, you need to allow yourself enough to eat some real food. Also if you’re going to need to take an Uber every day if you are not staying close enough to the con to walk, you will need to allow for that in your budget. If there are off-site events that you need to buy tickets for or any merch that you want to buy then go ahead and allot for that. Just please make sure that taking care of yourself takes top priority!
Plan for the Trip Back Home
Make sure that you pack well, but keep in mind that if you are going to be bringing stuff back from the con you A) allot room for it and B) are able to pack it in a way so that it won’t get smooshed in your luggage. If it is possible to put it in your carry-on it may be much safer. The last thing you want is to open your suitcase when you get home and find the box for your mint-in-box-SDCC exclusive figure wrecked (I highly suggest bringing hard plastic cases for your exclusives!). Also, if you can do laundry before heading back home it may be a good idea. Trying to pack a bog full of balled up stinky laundry into your bag is not gonna be fun.
I hope that I have helped you to feel better prepared. Cons are amazing, fun, overwhelming experiences that are made a lot better through proper preparation. Do you have any tips you’d like to share with others? Let us know!