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Ask The SDCC Doctors: Prepare For Line Camping

Invasion Of The Doctors by easylocum, on Flickr
Invasion Of The Doctors by easylocum, on Flickr

We get asked for advice all the time from our readers, and we’re always happy to help. But now that we’ve assembled such a great team of experienced con attendees, we’ve decided to pool our knowledge in a regular column called, “Ask The SDCC Doctors”, where we go around the TARDIS answering a reader question.

Today’s question comes from @inkasrain who asks:

Any line advice! What should we bring if anticipating night-to-day waiting? Can you be comfortable and still save bag space?

The SDCC Doctors’ Diagnosis:

Jeremy Rutz, Editor-in-chiefJeremy: I joked last year that waiting in line for Hall H or Ballroom 20 was a lot like being homeless. No hot meal, no shower, sleeping on the sidewalk. We were just a change cup away from the real deal.

But seriously, if you’re camping out in line, you have to be prepared. People bring blankets and folding chairs, anything to save an aching back or knees in the morning. But we’ve also seen people bring thermal windbreakers, warm-up pants and blankets – these are great ideas for keeping warm in those cool San Diego nights, as well as easy enough to fold up and place in your backpack when you’re ready to move into the hall. I used my big backpack as a pillow, but this year I’ve downsized so I’ll have to find something else to use in its place. You should find some way to make your belongings work dual-purpose, so you aren’t bringing too much with you.

Water and food are essential, because there’s hardly anything open that late/early. And that being said, if you’re travelling alone make sure you find a good, honest buddy in line to watch your things for those unavoidable bathroom breaks.

James Riley - SDConCast Host/Photographer/Writer

James: I’ve spent my share of time in overnight lines. I’d say there are probably two really important things to do when planning to wait overnight. First, get a group. Gather or make some friends who plan to the same. Getting a group allows you some freedom while waiting for hours in line. You can take bathroom/food/shower breaks without worrying about saving your spot. You will be able to take turns waiting in line and being able to head back to home/hotel to freshen up for the next day and/or sleep in a real bed for a couple hours. Set up a schedule in advance if your group is more than 5 or so. Setting up a group/schedule leads to the next very important thing to do, and it’s in 2 parts. Part 1 – Have your entire group, or as many of you as possible, get in line at the start of your line waiting time. Part 2 – When you all get in line and more people get in line behind you, tell them if you will have more people joining you and how many, keep this as small a number as possible. Also tell them you’ll be taking shifts so there will be people coming/going throughout the night. This will help keep tempers from flaring when it looks like people are cutting, get you talking to people who are waiting in line for hours right next to you, and it’s just a nice thing to do.

There’s almost nothing that puts people more on edge after a night in line then seeing someone cut in front of them. Don’t be that person.


Kim:  While I tend to avoid any lines in general, there are those special Comic-Con events that just can’t be missed. When that’s the case, the tag-team method is definitely the way to go. Perhaps you’ve got friends who won’t mind sleeping out on the grass of the Hall H line, in which case you can get a few hours of shut eye in an Actual Bed, before joining them in the wee hours. Or, perhaps you are that friend and don’t mind a little urban camping. In that case, simply follow the general camping rules: Be as comfortable as possible (a sleeping bag and pillow are a must), have several sets of earplugs, keep a good supply of snacks and water on hand, bring some toiletries and a change of clothes, and know where the nearest bathroom is. Enjoy your time amongst other fans: Make friends and have some amazing discussions! Plus, the moment the line starts moving is one of the best things you’ll ever experience.


Evic: I don’t have any experience on this as I have never waited in line at SDCC overnight. But if I was planning on camping out in line the first thing I would do is make a list on what I felt would be necessary to bring to be comfortable in line. Knowing my lists I would have a ton of stuff on there so I then pare it down to make it manageable and practical. I would think about preparing things to help occupy my time while waiting in line.  I would dress in layers, designate a “home base” (hotel/car) to pick-up/drop-off stuff (sleeping bag, foldable chair, etc.), find a “line buddy” for conversation and to hold your space for those needed bathroom breaks and trips to the “home base”.  I would recommend to try not to let your adrenaline keep you awake all night. Definitely get some sleep while waiting in line as the repercussions of not sleeping could ruin your con. Also for common courtesy I would strongly recommend packing some deodorant to avoid being the “smelly person” in line 😉

Shawn Marshall, Writer and Contributor

Shawn: I’m not the best on this question, because I’ll admit that I think there are very few things at SDCC that I would commit the amount of line time to that many attendees do. About the only thing I would sleep in line for at this year’s SDCC is tickets for next year’s SDCC (and that isn’t going to be an option). That being said, I have spent a fair share of time in line and my biggest suggestion fits with all of the rest of my con advice which is to come prepared. My backpack advice from our first “Ask the Doctors” sums up what I find necessary for comfort. In situations where I know I am going to be waiting longer than usual, I also make sure that my iPhone is loaded with podcasts and that I have some comics to read. I’m not the most outgoing person in the world, so you won’t find me stirring up conversation in line. I’m much more comfortable in writing than speaking, so I’m not the most outgoing person in the world. Additionally, I get bored very easily, so when I wait in substantial lines I try to have items that will occupy my mind so that I’m not focusing on the clock. The most important piece of advice I have about SDCC lines is to weigh them against other options. Although much is expensive at Comic-Con, time is your most precious currency. The reason I’m not big on the crazy lines is that I think it costs me too much in terms of experiences. SDCC is all about priorities and it is important to figure these out before you hit the show.

What other advice on waiting in SDCC lines do you have for @inkasrain? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

If you have a question for the Doctors, drop us a line or tweet us at @SD_Comic_Con.

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