SDCC Newbie Guide – Part III: Groceries and Smartphones

Okay, your plane landed, you’ve checked into the hotel, and you’re ready for Comic-Con to start. You have your schedule planned, you’ve booked every offsite event you could get in to, and you’ve got a room full of packing supplies to ship home all that great stuff you’re going to get. The lobby is crazy with people, the streets filled with attendees buzzing with excitement. It’s electric. And you’re there, baby. You’ve made it. It’s happening, and you’re a part of it.

Get ready for one of the best times of your life.

And to do that, there’s just a few more tips I want to share to make sure you are as prepared as you’ll ever be.

You Are What You Eat

You’ll want to stock up on food to carry with you while at the con. Expect to be on the go from early-morning to the early-evening with rarely a break from the frantic pace to refuel. Sure, there’s restaurants all around and enough fast food to fill Hall H, but if you want to survive the weekend, you’re going to want to eat smarter. Not only that, but even the hot dogs and pizza slices in the convention center will set you back a pretty penny, and we all know that would be better spent on, well, anything.

Make a grocery list of items to get you through the weekend. Plan for breakfast, lunch, and snacks in between. Here’s what I carried with me last year:

  • Dry breakfast cereal – some folks bring breakfast bars, I just bought a couple of boxes of cereal and brought some in a small zippered baggie with me every day. That way I could munch while waiting in line for the show to open.
  • Fruit – I had a banana for an AM snack, and an apple for a PM snack every day. Healthy, nutritious, and I didn’t have to worry about them spoiling.
  • Crackers – I bought a box of Wheat Thins and brought a small baggie-full every day. Better than potato chips, especially if you want to eat healthier.
  • Water – You’ll spend a typical day squeezing through crowds, always on your feet, shuffling from one end of the convention center to the other and even finding yourself standing in a two hour line in the outdoor heat – staying hydrated should be a top priority. I bought myself a case of water and just took two or three bottles with me every day. A few Smartwaters with electrolytes are a good, no-calorie choice too – those 1 liter bottles are a generous size to stuff into a backpack and last throughout the day.
  • Sandwich bags – I can’t think of a worse way to spend the weekend than cleaning out crushed Cocoa Puffs from your backpack. Buy a box of these to take your daily rations with you.
  • I skipped lunch, but you could always make yourself a PB&J sandwich to take with you. Lunch meat is out of the question, unless you’ve got a refrigerator where you’re staying.

I’m not going to get all preachy on eating healthy, and you know what works best for you. The key here is to stay energized, eat on the go and save costs.

The easiest way to stock up is to hit the Ralph’s grocery store on 101 G Street. It’s just three blocks up from the convention center, and last year it was fully stocked throughout the weekend. For one person, groceries for the long weekend should cost you altogether as much as one or two junk-food meals.

If you’re traveling with a group of people, and you don’t have time in your schedule to hit the grocery store, Vons is a regional grocer which will deliver an order of $49 or more to your hotel. The delivery charge depends on whether you want a one, two or four-hour window for delivery. If you have perishables, most hotels will store it in their kitchen’s refrigerators if you arrange upfront. As always, call ahead and make sure your hotel will accept delivery in advance of you checking in.

I Left My Heart In San Diego

Your smartphone is going to be your best friend while attending the show. From checking Twitter geo-updates from attendees to monitoring exhibitor announcements to catching the can’t-miss surprises of the show, your phone needs to stay on and by your side at all times.

Network coverage is going to be spotty. It’s a given that you have more than 100,000 people jammed within a few city blocks all simultaneously calling, texting or tweeting. Expect frequent outages and poor signal strength. Also, beware of any WiFi networks broadcasting as “Free Public WiFi” – you run the risk of connecting to a computer broadcasting a signal only to steal login information and other data from your connection. There is usually free WiFi offered by the con, just ask a staffer what the network name is – and be prepared for it to be slow and sporadic based on time of day, number of users and location.

Also, make sure you carry your charger at all times. Not only is constantly searching for a 3G network taxing on your phone’s battery, but so is the endless hours of playing Fruit Ninja or constantly refreshing your Twitter timeline while waiting for that next panel to begin. You’ll be stationary long enough to plug in for a few minutes at a time, and sometimes that’s all that’s needed to stay charged throughout the day.

But the best use I found for it last year was to stay in touch with of all the great people I met at the con. You’ll never be surrounded by so many who share the same interests as you, and everyone – with one exception last year – is as friendly as they come. Twitter and Facebook are good tools for meeting up with newfound friends throughout the weekend, and hopefully well past the last panel on Sunday.

Are there any other tips you are interested in hearing? Let us know in the comments below or contact me on Twitter at @SpotAnime.

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