Home Utility Belt Helpful Hints & Tips SDCC 2016: Ten Handy Tips for the Travelling European

Last month, The Gentle Geek asked a pretty simple question, to our the @EnglishmanSDCC Twitter account:

Easy enough, right? There are plenty of tips and hints out there, posted by a whole host of helpful boys and girls – but this one was a bit more specific. ‘Europeans’. Hmmm.

And they were right – there are some circumstances which us heading to San Diego from a little further afield make for a unique experience, especially for the first timer. So, using that tweet as a launch pad, I came up with a list of Ten Top Tasty Tips For Travelling Tourists From T’Europe – A ‘Final Countdown’, if you will…

Cannot be understated. Best purchase you can make is one of those filter bottles that you can pick up from any large department store – sure, they can be a bit pricey but when you can wander into a restroom and refill, it’s worth the investment.

And even more so, now that Comic-Con International have determined admin and badge space in the new Marriott Marquis and Marina Hotel, as well as Entertainment Weekly unveiling their Con-X Experience, over at Embarcadero North – San Diego Comic-Con no longer occupies San Diego Convention Centre, it occupies SAN DIEGO, so prepare for some hardcore walking. Not only that, but get your footwear sorted today. Break them in. Make sure they’re in for the big footfall.

Easy peasy. You listen to enough long-time attendees as you’ll hear words like ‘tribe’, ‘life-long buddies’, even ‘family’. The power of that many people, sharing the same level of passionate intensity is quite intoxicating. Embrace the love.

There’s simply too much – you can’t see it all. The big upside to that is, however, even if your Plan A falls through, you’ll find that Plan B ends up being utterly awesome! (As do Plans C, D and E…)

Okay, so you have a specific itch that needs scratching. That’s fine: Powerpuff Girls might not be for everybody but if that’s what blows up your skirt… At SDCC, you will not be alone in that fandom (it’s sheer laws of numbers for that to be the case) so be prepared to be appropriately driven if you just have to be in the room for that signing, or that panel, or whatever. That Powerpuff Girls panel, you might be looking at rockin’ up to the doors half an hour before; the cast of QUANTUM LEAP may require you to sit through a couple of panels you hadn’t planned on (but might be surprised about – it happens!); and if you’re wanting to be in Hall H for James Gunn, presenting his cast and footage for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2, you might have to accept you’re kissing the majority of the day (and maybe even a chunk of the evening before) goodbye.

A European-specific one, this: in the UK, we can wander into a bar when we’re very obviously going to be of the generation that are more fans of Oasis and Blur than One Direction and Taylor Swift but that doesn’t mean squat in the U.S. Keep your ID to hand if visiting bars in California…

I know, I know: you’ve travelled all this way to experience the Ultimate Nerdvana – why on Earth would I advise you to step back and head away from the Con? End of the day, it can be quite the heady experience and getting the opportunity to decompress will be a most welcome one if you’re finding you’re holding on to Comic-Con too tight. San Diego, and the surrounding area, is one of the jewels of California’s West Coast – do check it out, it’s well worth the exploration.

Take this from personal experience: DO THIS. T’Missus broke her ankle on Preview Night a few years back – thankfully, all our medical bills were covered by our policy – and, after returning home, we managed to catch a glimpse of the invoice that was submitted to our insurer.

Holy shit!!

As a nation that breathes and sleeps under the protection of the NHS, we can get a bit blase about healthcare – you have no concept of the pressure that our American brethren lives under when it comes to being ill in t’States. Do NOT get struck with that kind of financial sledgehammer.

As I said earlier, it can prove difficult to get into the larger rooms from time to time – the good news is, on the quieter days (such as Thursday and Sunday), you might get the chance to walk into these hallowed pop culture cathedrals. I’d highly recommend it, just to get a sense of the rooms once in your lives. They’re something to see!


More practical advice, this. Dress accordingly. Black is not your friend. I’m stunned more Brits haven’t opted for the full Gumby in the past – I get tempted, I really do…

EDIT: Off the back of these tips, I put them to the SDCC UK Attendees Group to see what they thought. They backed me up on a lot of them but had a few additions to the list:

  • P Jay Bogert III: Good backpack or messenger bag that is comfortable to carry for hours. Bring aspirin, and whatever over the counter medication you may need for nausea, diarrhea, headaches, etc.”
  • Dan Page: …MAKE SURE your ESTA is sorted. GET A PORTABLE PHONE CHARGER!”
  • Heike Koenig: …+1 on the portable charger. Had to restrict photo-taking on my first con!”
  • Graeme Maclachlan: Check your luggage allowance for the flight back as you may be carrying a lot more than you arrived with!”
  • Lee Snowden: If you’re joining the Hall H queue you for a few days you may need an upgraded charging solution.”
  • Neil Williamson: And also ensure you’re sleeping as close to charging solution as humanly possible!”
  • Jennifer Watson: Check who and how much you’re expected to tip.” …”Dan Berry: a fair amount is usually at least 2 times the sales tax at a minimum.”
  • Helen O’Hara: Maybe this is more a problem to the likes of me, who are essentially working all day and can’t leave, but I’d go to the Ralph’s and stock up on snacks because the food in the Con is expensive and pretty terrible. Having some dried fruit or cereal bars or whatever can be v handy – especially if you manage to get into Hall H.”
  • Heike Koenig: Bring cash.”
  • Dan Page: Don’t go in assuming it’s like other cons. It isn’t.”

Amen to that, brother. Amen to that.

Anything we’ve missed? Something you think should be included in our list? Let us know in the comments below…

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