Every time you travel, you pack, and you plan. You book hotels or hostels, and while I may have only been to San Diego twice, I still know a thing or two that’s relevent to making your life easier.
When I go to San Diego, I try to go a day ahead. Why? Simple. Outlet mall shopping. I’m not a $100 shirt kind of guy. Las Americas Premium Outlet Shopping Mall located at the US/Mexico border offers many great stores such as Nike, Old Navy, Banana Republic, etc. But that’s not the only reason you should go early. If you’re going to another city, why not take a day to explore it? It’s San Diego. It may not be New York, but they have beaches, California weather, Coronado Island, and Balboa Park (worth checking out by the way).
If this is your first time in San Diego, you should go a day before Pre-reg badge pickup begins (on Wednesday). Get a feel for Gaslamp. Get to know the area so that you don’t get lost. When you find out that the secret Game of Thrones Fan meeting is on 5th and K, and you have no idea how to get there, knowing how the streets work in San Diego will help. Trust me. You can also find where everything is, from grocery shops, to post services (you’ll get so much swag that you’ll have to mail it or bin it).
Okay, so, you’ve landed a day early, and you need to stock up on supplies. Where do you go? My personal favorite is Ralph’s. Oh crap, I just realized I forgot to pack my Ralph’s card. Meh. Moving on, Ralph’s carries fresh produce, meats and fish, snacks, toiletries, alcohol, pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. There is also a CVS on 6th and Market, which, is pretty much a pharmacy. It’s got your basic snacks, toiletries, cosmetics, etc, but not fresh produce.
The most important thing you’ll need to prepare in advance is lodging. It’s hard. Hotels and hostels will raise their prices from Wednesday to Sunday because of the Con. I would highly recommend staying at the Hi Hostel in downtown San Diego on 5th and Market. It’s a great location, the people downstairs are helpful, it’s got a fridge to store your food (make sure you label.), and quite frankly, it’s the best hostel in the area. Alternatively, there is the USA hostel a block and a half up the street, but, I found it a bit too hot for my liking. Whatever you do, just try to stay as close to the convention center as your budget allows. When you need to recharge your camera, or drop off your swag, a ten minute walk is better than an hour-long free shuttle ride.
Now, what to pack? One advice; pack light. Now, I’m not a cosplayer, so I won’t need a suitcase for my stormtrooper costume. However, you’ll pick up a lot of swag, and you’re going to want all that extra space in your luggage. When I go to San Diego, I’ll have one checked baggage, one carry on, and one backpack. If you can fit all your stuff into your backpack and carry on, then you have a checked baggage all to your swag and potential shopping goodies.
In general, you should pack the following:
Wallet, cards, ID
Smartphone with data (when you need to like a group on facebook to get swag, it’ll come in handy)
Camera and batteries, usb connector, charger
two or three small things you want to get signed.
Now, when it comes to the actual convention itself, you should pack the following:
wallet, cards, ID
Camera and batteries, (charger if your hostel/hotel is far away)
pen, sharpies, and small notebook
one or two things to get signed.
snacks (granola, fruit, etc, not chips and cookies)
Okay, you’re ready to go. See you at the con.