By Nick Eskey
Those who are watching the ticking clock of San Diego Comic-Con know that it’s less than a month away. This is one of the largest and busiest conventions in the world (sometimes just as turbulent and exciting as tornado season). A certain level of preparedness is in order for such an event.
When traipsing through the jungles of an exhibit hall all day, a small backpack of provisions can be a lifeline. Food, water, notebook, a can of Axe body spray; the important stuff. For my convention pack, I use a Timbuk2 backpack (made in M’erica). Their products are always solid, and resistant to wear. Keep the backpack as light as best you can though. At some point in the day you’ll be shelling out some money on some cool toy or print. Leave room for it.
Food and drink lines, much like the rest of the lines, can be quite long. Every minute is precious when sticking to a schedule that consists of panels, signing, and raffles. And if you are lucky enough to find a short one, be prepared to shell out more than you’re used to. Comic-Con consumables are at a premium (Are you serious, $3.50 for a bottled water!?).
A prepared meal in a squish-proof container (lest you enjoy a pancaked sandwich) will go a long way and
will be much cheaper. If you’re not one for preparing food, something else quick and easy like beef jerky or power bars is a great alternative. You’ll be thankful for the quick boost of energy when the day drags on.
Pack a reusable bottle so you can fill it at any old water fountain on site when it gets empty. I like my aluminum one I purchased from REI: It’s durable, free of harmful plastics, easy to wash, and great as a bludgeoning-weapon in case of zombie attacks. Companies also make ones that keep the heat in or out, allowing your chosen beverage to stay as hot or cold as you want for hours.
Electronics have become a part of everyday life. Cellphones alone are invaluable tools. Nowadays they can take high-quality photos and video, as well as have access to social media applications like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It’s important to be able to blast that picture of you and that dreamy Chris Hardwick to all your jealous friends.
For those doing presswork like myself, deadlines can be demanding. A slim laptop or tablet for writing is a must. My weapon of choice is a Microsoft Surface Pro with an optional keyboard. I use it to write notes using the touch screen and type up my articles when I sit down for a break (bring some headphones). So that you aren’t losing anything, keep a USB Flash drive on your person for those important files. For pictures, I use my Nikon SLR camera equipped with an 18-200mm lens (for those up close, personal shots). Something big like Comic-Con will quickly fill up a memory card. Bring an extra, or like myself, upload what you have to your laptop when you can.
The limitations placed on such devices however fall greatly on their battery life. Don’t assume you’ll be able to find any free outlets. If you do find a free one, tread lightly. It’s not a safe bet what voltage a strange port is giving out. Your device might end up a fried paperweight. Invest in a handy-dandy rechargeable battery pack.
Boredom of lines or waiting for that later panel can be an issue to. A handheld device like a Nintendo 3DS or a Ps Vita can make the time passable, especially when you don’t feel like squeezing through the sales floor for the umpteenth time. I find myself usually taking a paperback book.
There might be some other things you may consider packing, but these are the things that work for me. I have enough to be adequately prepared, but not over burdened with unnecessary items.
And lastly, don’t wait till the day before to get this together. You’ll be already preoccupied with getting that thick schedule finalized.
See you lucky guys and gals at San Diego Comic-Con!
Outstanding piece, Nick!
Food: I carb up at breakfast, ordering the largest skillet available. If you can, schedule a meeting during the breakfast.
I won’t get hungry until about 5 PM. (Later if I’m running on adrenaline.)
I will burn off most of those calories walking, talking, thinking.
I buy a box of breakfast/granola bars at the local grocery or convenience store. Make sure they are not covered in chocolate. They are healthy, low-mess, and can be noshed while wandering an aisle.
Electricity: USB battery packs are great. (Why don’t conventions or exhibitors sell branded battery packs? Those little lipstick batteries are as cheap as $1!) I have an older phone, so I bought cheap duplicate batteries online.
If covering a lot of panels, an extension cord might be a nice addition. Find the local outlet, and plug in during the talk. If you feel charitable, bring a power strip, so your fellow journos/fans can also recharge. The power strip should also block any strange voltages.
Accessories: Binder clips. Safety pins (swag pins can also be used in an emergency). If you anticipate a MacGyver situation, then include a baggie with a rubber band, paperclip, and chewing gum.
Also, I travel with a suitcase (actually a backpack) that’s half-full, so I don’t have to pay shipping. Use your clothes as padding around your treasures.
I AVOID carbs and sugar in the morning, as this just makes me hungry all day, unless it’s dense low glycemic carbs. That’s why I stick with trail mix all day and a fish supper.
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