For those of you brave souls traveling to San Diego for Comic Con, I must say I do not envy you! I must also point out that I will not be among you, as I went in 2008 and was so completely overwhelmed that I never really wanted to do it again. I'm all for conventions, as some of you well know, but Comic Con is just a wee bit too big for someone who dislikes most people as much as I do! But for those of you going, I would like to offer some words of advice from someone who has lived and learned...through exactly one Comic Con.
1) Bring water and food. Two years ago I had one bottle of water, a granola bar, and a pack of gum, and I thought that would get me through the Sunday panels after a somewhat harrowing drive down to San Diego for only one day of the annual nerd-fest (which I say with love because I, too, am a nerd-- just of a very specific kind: I am a TV nerd). Between the body heat, the running around the floor looking for swag/trying to make it panels on time, and the sheer number of hours in the day, I was feeling faint by the time I piled back into my car at the end of the day. So when I say bring food; I mean food. Pack a sandwich. Or two! If there is any place old-school lunchboxes are acceptable and even revered, it is Comic Con! If you have a retro Batman or something you may even find collectors taking photos of it or offering you money for it.
2) Wear comfortable shoes. Comic Con is not the place to worry about looking cute or needing to be tall in photographs. If it would be feasible, I would even say go barefoot but then you'd have a really good chance of getting a little piggy trampled. So sneakers are definitely the way to go (flip-flops don't have enough support). Might I suggest Blochs? They're sneakers made for dancers which means awesome arch and ankle support!
3) Bring a spare tee-shirt. Just to warn you, you will be sweating. Yes, the convention center has air conditioning, but you will be packed like sardines into some of the rooms, and you will be inches from some people in full-on rubber and plastic costumes, which leads me to:
4) Deodorant. It's common sense but still necessary. I'm not really sure why Dove or Axe body spray or whoever doesn't get a vendor table on the floor and hand out samples. It would be much appreciated. And just good business sense.
5) Grab one of the free swag bags at the start of the convention. This also sounds like common sense to some or unnecessary to others, but it is worth mentioning. Bringing a big purse is not sufficient. And backpacks? Even at Comic Con, that is cause for alarm. Take the swag bag because it's free, and free stuff is always awesome. But take it because it will hold all of the other free stuff you inevitably take because it is, again, free. It's also a good place to carry extra bottles of water.
6) Bring a camera. Even if you're in the back of the room for panels, you will undoubtedly see cool stuff while walking around that you'll want to document. Whether it's a display or another convention-goer dressed up like their favorite sci-fi character or even just to Tweet out photos of the swag you obtain!
7) Don't forget the charger!
8) If you're Tweeting or live-blogging the event from a portable device such as a laptop or iPad and are not sitting in the press section, be considerate of your neighbors. Most people are attending for fun and just to take time out of their daily lives and "geek out" a little bit, and the incessant clicking of fingers on keys or the light from the screen(s) can be distracting and bothersome.
9) Strike up a conversation with a random stranger. This is the perfect place to meet people. Not quite to network, unless you're already on the press list, but still. You're in a convention center with thousands of like-minded people, all of whom are excited about many of the same things you are, and some of whom attend alone. I have never met friendlier people than at conventions like this!
10) Bring rubber bands. Okay, I stole this everyday survival tip from Maggie Griffin, but it rings true here. Rubber bands can be used to tie up long hair when you're hot and sweaty; they can bundle random pens with company or show logos on them; they can even act as makeshift bracelets by drawing designs with said pens on them if and when you get bored while waiting on line for a panel.
But since I have only been to one of these in the past, I may have forgotten a few key things here. Feel free to list YOUR survival guide in the comments!