What (and How) to Pack for San Diego Comic-Con

3

We get asked a lot — what do I need to pack for San Diego Comic-Con?

We’ve previously compiled a list of “Uncommon Items” you might not think to bring to the convention, but we’re going to offer a more comprehensive list (though by no means complete) of what to pack — as well as how to make it fit.

What to Bring

The Basics

Obviously, you need clothes. I’m assuming you can handle that part.

But what I always recommend is that you also bring a jacket (it may be July in San Diego, but it can get cold late at night/early morning, as well as inside the panel rooms), a really good pair of walking shoes which you’ve already broken in, and at least one pair of socks per day (just as important as the shoes).

You’ll also need a good backpack. Although CCI/Warner Bros. provides you with a bag on-site (to be picked up in Sails Pavilion this year), they’re not the best quality, and can fall apart under the strain. I personally use a North Face Slingshot because I can throw my purse in it (and more on that reasoning below), but choose the bag that makes the most sense for you and your needs. Also, bring a poster tube.

Don’t forget your toiletries — which includes, but is not limited to: Toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant (to be carried with you at all times), hand wipes (useful for both anything sticky that may get on your hands and for wiping off sweat), make-up, straighteners, blow dryers (hotels usually only have one, and if there are multiple people in your room, it can be an issue), hairspray, razors, and more.

Gadgets

Everyone says it, but for good reason: The best thing you can bring to San Diego Comic-Con is an external charger. Lines get boring fast, so odds are you’ll be using your phone and running down the battery a lot — and who knows how long it will be before you see sunlight or your hotel room again anyway. We actually always recommend bringing at least two, and if there’s one item you should be willing to splurge on besides your shoes, it’s this. I’ve used New Trent for years because I find they can last me 3 days without having to re-charge it, but I think they’ve stopped making them — so do your research.

Have a good camera. We know your phone takes decent photos — but odds are it won’t zoom in with crystal clear clarity on Benedict Cumberbatch’s face as much as you’d like it to. And along those same lines, bring extra SD cards, and extra battery (either rechargeable or of the AA/AAA variety) for your camera.

There are lots of other gadgets that may be required or enhance your experience — including, but not limited to, video recorders, audio recorders (if you’re press), FitBits for tracking how many steps you take, MiFi, a tablet, etc. Use your own best judgement.

However, make sure you leave the selfie sticks and drones at home! They’re both banned.

Other

Bring an umbrella (just in case) and a power strip. If there are multiple people in your room, odds are you’ll all be trying to charge your camera, external chargers, and phones — all at the same time.

If you’re planning on camping out, a sleeping bag is also a must. You’ll deeply regret being without one at 3AM on the hard concrete. Pillows can always be… borrowed, from your hotel.

Exclusives

If you’re planning on bringing home exclusives rather than shipping them (which is always an option! Just swing by a FedEx/UPS/etc during the con), plan on bringing something to get them home safely. That may mean purchasing bubble wrap, Funko Pop! protectors, shipping boxes, etc.

Groceries

You can buy them at home or at Ralph’s downtown — but you’re going to want something to snack on that isn’t convention center food. Buying a pack of bottled water for your entire room is also a great option (and a quick way to make your con roommates love you).

How To Pack It

I find that a lot of people surprisingly don’t know the basic fundamentals for packing even just clothing fit into your suitcase in a way that maximizes all available space — so let’s start with that. In all my years of traveling, I’ve never seen a better how-to-pack guide for clothes than this adorable cartoon from tumblr:

383456669d2a14c3ca0200a53efa955f5d98cbc1c0bf53be1471f3071607e5bd_large

tumblr_n6l006ziGp1s7w5aqo2_500

7

img_0779-1

tumblr_n6l006ziGp1s7w5aqo5_1280

CU-yNDYWUAE4Nqy

Luggage-Packing-05

tumblr_n6l006ziGp1s7w5aqo8_540

9.+koper

Got the basics down? Good. Now that you’ve got a better idea of how to best utilize your space, you’ve hopefully got a better idea of how much space you’ve got left over. If your suitcase is already full to the brim with just your clothes, odds are you either need to scale back, or bring another bag. Remember that each individual airline has their own rules, regulations, and fees — so it’s also important to figure that out ahead of time, or it can quickly add up.

Because I am both cheap and relatively clever, when flying, I know that I am allowed one carry-on item and a personal item (defined, for the most part, as a purse, a backpack, or a computer bag). My North Face Slingshot can easily hold my purse, as well as lots of other items, so I can fit two bags into one. Then I use the largest possible carry-on bag that I still can to bring more items for no charge (varies by airline — aka, beware of Frontier). I’ve managed to come to Comic-Con with just those two bags lots of times before, but on the occasions when I can’t/want more room to bring things home in, I can then get away with just checking one bag. Packing for the convention is a bit like a giant game of tetris – so think about it strategically.

My other “tip” is that while I bring a sleeping bag to the convention — I don’t bring it home with me. I always find some other con-goer to donate it to after I’ve used it. Now, that means I spend $20 every year on something I only use once — but that’s about what I’d pay to ship home the stuff I’m now able to fit in my bag. Plus, there’s always someone who forgets to bring a sleeping bag or who decided last minute to do the camping out thing and just didn’t bring one, so you get to make someone’s long, cold night a little better.

Make sure to pack all exclusives or anything breakable securely in your bag. Bring extra packaging for it (or have it shipped). Clothes can also be a great buffer in your bag for making sure things don’t move around. Also, don’t forget that your line “luggage” doesn’t have to be a bag at all — you can package up a box (which will take less of your weight limit than a bag) full of your exclusives to check in for your flight home instead. To maximize costs, choose a box large enough to fit your actual suitcase in for the trip over — then use both the suitcase and the box to go home.

 

What packing advice do you have for San Diego Comic-Con? Let us know in the comments.

About Kerry Dixon

Kerry Dixon is Editor-in-Chief of The San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog and the site's resident panel guru.
  • Jonathan K

    Love the list! I would add Emergen-C, just because Comic-Con Crud can happen during the con as well. Also, bottles of hand sanitizer like Purell can be bought form the Dollar Store. They have carabiners that can attach to anything. Finally, Wal-Mart carries decent sleeping bags for less than $10. They’re not the thickest, but I assume it should keep one warm enough through the nights outside in line.

  • Mike Luu

    This will be my first Comic-Con, so this might be a terrible question: wtf are people camping out for?

  • Flinkman

    Hall H, usually…though a lot of folks want to be in the “general” line overnight too for things like buying exclusives, attending signings, etc.

    Personally I’ve never actually SLEPT on premises now that they do wristbands for Hall H the night before, but I’m still in line around 4AM every single day. Because I’m crazy.

  • Ed

    Hotel towels can also be “borrowed” to use in place of bubble wrap, just make sure to use the clean ones. Purell is also good, but instead of the hand gel I bring the wipes which you can find on Amazon. Also if you’re going to Ralphs or Vons, signing up for their savings cards can save you a little more.

  • Johnny P

    Besides knowing what you want to pack, not forgetting the same is just as important. My brother and I always have a comprehensive list of what to pack for our trip to SDCC. When it is time to go and you can cross everything off your list when you know you packed it, you do not have to worry about forgetting something obvious.

  • Always have hand sanitizer and wet wipes on hand… Band aids and blister band aids have come in use every single year

  • Cherry Ramikin

    Don’t forget sun protection: sunscreen, hat, that umbrella. Many lines are outside in the sun.

  • Candice M

    I wish I knew about a jacket last year. I know this year. I’m going to pack more pants and jeans, too.

  • Monica F

    Emergen-C and hand sanitizer, like Jonathan K stated, is a must and as Cherry said, sun screen! If you collect comic books, like myself, always have your handheld notebook up to date; I like to know which titles I need and I like to research what typical price points are for each book in various conditions – on top of that, a sturdy comic book holder so your books don’t get smashed in your bag. Also, never forget your Sharpie – you don’t know who you may run into. And because the convention can get muggy simply with the mass amounts of people – I generally bring a change of clothes each day (shorts or leggings, tank, undies and socks) in case I want to freshen up a bit. Oh, and deodorant too – the stench of the con is real, lol.

  • TeamViking

    After having been fortunate enough to attend SDCC for a few years now, here are a few tips and ideas:
    –Shoes – without a doubt, shoes are some of the most important items for comfort over the days you’re at the con. The majority of your time is spent walking, slow-walking, and standing so put a premium on good shoes. For the money, Skechers memory foam shoes are one of the best choices you can make. They are extremely comfortable, supportive, and as a side benefit, they are lighter than normal shoes, so they take up less weight in the luggage. It’s best to have 2-3 pair with you and change shoes every day or even 2x in one day to keep your feet refreshed. (Plus, they need very little break-in – they are that comfortable.)
    –Socks – if you prefer ankle-length socks, you can easily take out a few pair and stuff them in your shoes to not take up extra space in the luggage – plus you have fresh socks for each day. Again – anything you can do to save your feet is a plus.
    –Clothing – take lightweight, breathable undershirt, and take a light sweatshirt or hoodie for those times it is cool there.
    –Sunscreen – can be overlooked – but if you’re outside in a long line – pack some sunscreen.
    –Tea Tree Oil Toothpicks (can find them at Whole Foods among other places) — or any kind of minty toothpick — good for freshening your mouth after chowing down and you’re on the run.

    Other tips:
    –Stating the obvious here – shower 1x or 2x a day – good for you and for your fellow con-goers. Plus, you’ll feel more refreshed. Bring a good bar soap with you (won’t spill in luggage and lighter than body wash and you won’t need to bring it back unless you want to).
    –Eat a bigger breakfast, eat a light lunch (buy some supplies at Ralph’s and make your lunch – it’s faster and cheaper that way), and eat a nice dinner time-permitting to enjoy your time in SD.
    –If you feel like you’re getting tired or overwhelmed with the crowds and such, go take a break and get a beer – it’s relaxing, and will refresh you for heading back into the show.
    –If you want to ship something back home, go to the FedEx place at the Manchester Grand Hyatt – very quiet there – not busy.
    –Stay hydrated – will be good for immune system, and generally feel better. Bring a water bottle with you and refill as needed. If you’re thirsty, you’re needing hydration. (You can get those electrolyte tablets at most grocery stores for some flavor.)
    –With about a month to go now – get yourself out there and at a minimum, walk every day or every other day to get your legs prepared for like 35 min at a brisk pace. You’ll thank yourself for it. The con is a physical grind that’s not often appreciated.
    –If you have the means, get yourself a lighter piece of luggage – those extra 10 lbs or so will make a difference for bringing stuff back.
    –Above all else – relax when you’re there – enjoy it. You’re not going to see “everything” or get everything – but just take your time and enjoy it, and you’ll get more out of the show.

  • Ed

    There’s also a post office at Horton Plaza. FedEx can be more expensive than using a USPS flat rate box.

  • Dan Korn

    Yes! I always bring a black umbrella, not for rain, but for shelter from the Southern California sun.

  • Darja

    I always take a pashmina or a large cotton/viscose shawl. It’s enough to keep you warm inside when they turn A/C to the max, it doubles as a pillow or a little blanket when you wait in line on the grass for Hall H and can be wrapped around the strap of the bag when not in use.

    Don’t forget elastic hair bands, they can double as a poster-in-place-holders if you forget the tube or don’t get the Fox one, the one we all count on.

  • egaal

    I always like taking some sort of scented wash cloth. There are a few different brand, but I’m partial to the Ban
    Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths. When you don’t have a hotel nearby
    to go take a shower during the day, these can make you feel like you
    took one.

  • Erik Jochums

    Alternately, pack like you’re going to backpack across Europe, throw in a lote of wipes for hygiene, and forget about spending hundreds or thousands on a hotel room and just continually camp lines at night. Honestly, the lines for Hall H are at that point anyhow where you could just spend the whole con camping for the next panel. Even if you don’t plan to see the panel, it’s a legit way to camp at the con, and you could save a ton of money on lodging.

  • Jango Schultz

    All great suggestions. You may also want to bring one of those portable and extremely lightweight three-legged stools, similar to the ones that they handed out at the MTV Fan Fest the past two years in a row (however, beware – I witnessed someone fall off one after one of the legs broke). They’re pretty compact and handy when standing in that incredibly lengthy Hall H line, Ballroom 20, or AdultSwim carnival.

  • Candice M

    My mom and I took some chairs last year. They came in handy when we were waiting for Orphan Black. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7688ff5a501e9b14604112668eeb3093fce94023040b968645e97717a3fb5c15.jpg

  • lmo2014

    Bring a book to read, but most importantly bring your patience, common sense and respect for your fellow Con goers.

  • Diane S

    There have been years I wanted to get a bunch of the small travel size deodorants and hand them out as swag.