How To: Survive San Diego Comic-Con

How To Survive San Diego Comic-Con

Nerd Prom.

Geek Christmas.


No matter you call it, the fact doesn’t change – San Diego Comic-Con, is without a doubt, the largest convention of its kind!

It is a literal sea of people, all coming together to celebrate their love for comics, movies, video games and geek culture… and if you’re attending, it doesn’t matter if you plan on spending your entire time in the convention center or if you are going to venture out to the many off-site events (like NerdHQ or the Geek & Sundry lounge) because either way you are in for sensory overload and a lot of stress!

So how do you survive a mega-con of this proportion with your sanity and fitness goals intact?

The Basics

How to Survive San Diego Comic ConWhile these apply to any convention, they are vital to your survival of a con of this magnitude:

  1. Budget – There is one simple fact you just have to accept; you will spend more money then you planned! To keep it from getting out of hand though, split up “floor” money and “entertainment” money. Know how much you want to spend on all the cool stuff you are going to see on the convention floor and separate it from what you plan on spending on tickets to off-site events, going out drinking with your friends, etc… That way, when you find that Limited Edition Bedazzled My Little Pony Galactus variant figure you just can’t live without you know you won’t be stuck in your hotel room at night because you’re broke.
  2. Bring Snacks – I could lump this into #4 below, but I feel it’s important enough to call it out on its own. You’ll be walking around non-stop, and you will get hungry! You could stand in one of the ridiculously long concession lines to spend $18 dollars on some cold, nasty chicken fingers or you could toss a few snacks in your bag, freeing up your time, cash and saving you from eating a plate of deep-fried shame! I recommend tossing an apple, a banana, a bag of raw almonds and maybe some jerky or a Quest protein bar into your bag each morning.
  3. Plan, Plan and Plan Some More! – Every hour of the day seems to filled with 5-10 competing panels/events; and as much as being spontaneous can be freeing and fun, this is not the place for it. Decide what you want to do ahead of time (use the handy-dandy schedule app), and always have a backup plan if what you want to do ends up being too crowded.
  4. Line Up Early – Like I said, there are a crazy amount of panels going on over the course of the day event, and chances are you want to attend all of them. Here’s my advice; pick the top ones you have to attend and then A) realize that 49,382 other people probably also feel the same way and B) line up waaaaaay early to get a seat (and if you want a guarantee you should probably sit through the panel beforehand as well.)
  5. Be Prepared – Adopting the perennial Boy Scout motto will definitely serve you well when you make your way to the convention center. Here are just a few things you need to remember:
  • A Bag – Yes, you get a swag bag when you pick up your badge. No, it is not useful at all. Bring a backpack or a messenger bag with you.
  • Art Tubes – If you plan on buying prints (or especially if you plan on getting a commission done) invest in a sturdy art tube! Nothing sucks more than buying a cool piece and then getting home to find it dog-eared or creased.
  • Extra Phone Batteries – The convention center is a swirling vortex of battling cell signals. You will get service about 1/3rd of the time if you’re lucky; the rest of the time your phone will be draining battery life trying to find its way back onto the network. Bring an extra battery or a flash charger.
  • Comfortable shoes – This should be self-explanatory.

And if you are thinking about making your pilgrimage to San Diego for the first time, here’s a video where I break the entire process down for you!

Staying on Track

San Diego Comic-Con Survival Guide - View from the Convention Center

Outside the Convention Center on Preview Night – 2012

The hardest part about going to conventions, be they work-related or something as nerdtastic as Comic-Con, is that it takes a lot of will-power to try to stay on track with your diet and fitness routine.

So here are my tips for how to survive Comic-Con with your waistline intact!

  • Don’t Skip Breakfast – Eat a hearty breakfast at your hotel. Omelets with lots of veggies, oatmeal and fresh fruit are your friends. Pancakes, waffles, Fruit Loops and other assorted cereals are your enemy. You want high quality protein and fiber to maximize how long you feel full. The longer it takes you to dip into your snacks as you wander aimlessly, the better!
  • Plan your lunch! – If you are relatively local to the convention you can bring food with you (sandwich makings, bottled water, fresh fruit and veggies, etc…) and even if your hotel doesn’t have a refrigerator, you can just pack it all in a cooler. Make morning trips to the ice machine to fill it up and keep your stuff cold! For those of you flying in, avail yourself on Ralph’s Grocery Store on 101 G Street. Not only is it the closest grocery store to the Convention Center, it is also open 24 hours and on the shuttle line. Score! They sell sandwiches, drinks and snacks at a reasonable price so my recommendation is to pick something healthy up ahead of time each day and avoid concession stand hell.
  • Don’t Skip Your Workout – Hit the hotel gym, bang out a body weight circuit (our Nerd-Core Fitness workouts are perfect) in your hotel room, or going for a morning run (Check out the 3 Routes the San Diego Convention Center recommends) . Taking 15-20 minutes to do a quick workout every other day will help keep your fitness goals from falling to the wayside. Having fun is no excuse to be completely lazy. You can also try one of the cool fitness related events that occur off-site like the Walking Dead Escape. And before you ask… No, walking all day doesn’t count!
  • Decide What Your Cheat Is – Remember, you are on vacation. You are there to enjoy yourself! Unless you are trying to hit a very specific goal by a certain date, it’s okay to relax a little and enjoy yourself. Just don’t go overboard! Follow my tips for cheating on your diet guilt-free and then decide where you are going to relax your hold on the reins. Is it a specific meal of the day, or maybe having some beers with your friends? Just pick something and stick with it! If you know you are going to be hitting every party conceivable at night and boozing it up with your friends, then make sure you are being vigilant with your meals. If you want to experience all the city has to offer in the form of cuisine, then pick one meal a day (probably dinner) where you just enjoy yourself, but then be sure to be on-point with your other meals/snacks and stay away from the evening drinking festivities. It is all about compromise!

Then as soon as you get home, get right back on your fitness and diet program.

The damage from your few days of indulgences will quickly disappear and you should be right back on track!

Have Fun

Batman's San Diego Comic-Con Survival Guide

Batman says “Remember to have fun, old chum.”

I shouldn’t have to say this, but remember you are there to have fun!

You’re not going to be able to see everything you want, you will miss things, but the things you do experience will be amazeballs and that is the magic of Comic Con.

Don’t let the little things ruin a great time!

If the vendor three booths down from where you just bought that nifty Deadpool paperweight has the same thing for $3 less, who cares? Don’t sweat it.

If you couldn’t get into whatever hall is hosting the latest Joss Whedon fan-fest don’t worry, it will be up on YouTube in its entirety by the following morning.

Go explore, meet people and relish in the fact that you are in the happiest place on Earth (that’s right Disney, I said it… wanna fight about it?)

It’s almost time for the annual pilgrimage to Nerdvana and I can’t wait!

If you are going to be there, and you happen to see me swimming through the ocean of my fellow nerds, definitely stop me and say hello. I would love to meet each and every one of you reading my ramblings!

In the meantime, if you want to keep abreast of all the San Diego Comic-Con (or SDCC as the cool kids call it) happenings as they occur, I’ll be chronicling it via Instagram and on Twitter so make sure you are following me for all the up-to-date news/gossip/awesome cosplay and celebrity sightings!

Let me know if you have any tips or tricks to add to our San Diego Comic-Con survival guide in the comments below!

Oh, if you are looking for more up-to-date Comic-Con info and tips, definitely check out Tony Kim (@Crazy4ComicCon) and his amazing site It is THE place to be!

Also check out our YouTube channel (if you want access to our Nerd-Core Fitness exercise videos), follow me on Twitter, and like us on Facebook and Google+ (there is content on both not available here on the site.) There are so many different ways for you to get your daily dose of Jerdly goodness so don’t miss out!

(Photo #1 credit)

PS: Make sure to get your free e-book, “The 7 Fitness Obstacles Newbies Face” by subscribing to our newsletter… no spam, I promise!

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3 replies
  1. becca
    becca says:

    I am a total dork! I have never been too interested in comics but my “dorkdom” (as I call it) comes out easily in other ways. I am a massive gamer chick and well let’s just say I have quite a few goofy moments that make it so that I never have to wonder what to write a post about! lol 🙂

    These are wonderful tips for comic con. I like the very first one…budget..but you will go over it lol

  2. Melinda
    Melinda says:

    Great advice for any con — of any type.

    I used to love Science Fiction Conventions in my younger days and even went to WorldCon once when it was here in Boston. Maybe I’ll try it again someday.

    Thanks for a great post! Have fun at Nerdvana!

  3. Stacy
    Stacy says:

    That was funny and informative. I doubt I will ever make it to Comic Con due to living on the other side of the country…and honestly, very little interest in comics. The closest I will get is via The Big Bang Theory and I do know enough to agree with Raj that Aqua Man does suck. 😉

    Enjoy your trip!


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