Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tips For International Travel to SDCC From An Englishman In San Diego

San Diego Comic Con has grown to become one of the largest conventions in the world.  Over 300,000 fans travel from all over the world to be the first to see the movies, T.V., comics and collectables that come out of SDCC.  Run by Comic Con International, it certainly has been living up to the international part of its name.

The international fans of SDCC make the con a community that spans the globe.  One time a year fans from all over the world can converge into one place and connect in person about the things they love.
After attending five SDCC's, I have finally found the international community.  One person in particular who has really tried to help international attendees travel the distance and make it a bit easier, is An Englishman in San Diego, Leonard Sultana.  I talked to him about what traveling to San Diego from the UK is like and here are a few tips he gave me for international travel:

1.  Get your house in order before you set off, sooner rather than later. Organize a checklist of official documents required (ie. ESTA's, passports, etc.) and sort out flights and hotels as soon as you can. 

2.  Do NOT hang your entire trip on SDCC. It can be the headline, by all means, but the U.S. and its people can do so much to hold your attention. Head out, head away and see the sights.
Luckily attendees arriving from outside San Diego will find that the airport is only a short taxi ride from the Convention Center and San Diego's Historic Gaslamp District.  In the Gaslamp you will find the majority of hotels you would be likely to stay at and the Convention Center just across the way.  You will need a SDCC badge to get into the Convention Center, but everything in the Gaslamp is usually open to the public, even if you do not have a badge.  Attending SDCC without a badge is becoming more and more common.  The Nerd Machine hosts their own star studded panels.  Movie studios set up shop throughout the Gaslamp.  You could people watch for hours and never get board.  Plus there seems to be even more SWAG in the Gaslamp than on the SDCC show floor in recent years.
Acquiring a SDCC badge and hotel room are an equal opportunity/luck of the draw for all as long as you have a Member ID.  You can get a Member ID quickly and easily at comiccon.org.  You will need this to purchase a badge.  Badge sales usually happen in the Spring and have become a hot topic among attendees.  Last year myself and another attendee had multiple computers up and running and still had a hard time gaining access to the site.  What I recommend is patience in this situation.  Gather yourself before hand, practice clicking the links quickly and just take a moment before the sale begins to relax.  If you do not get a badge during the first sale, there is always a re-sale closer to July for all returned badges.

Hotels sale go about the same, but even quicker.  Have many friends available to get into the hotel lottery.  This allows for more chance of any of you getting a room you can all share.  If you gain multiple rooms you can then return them and there is also a hotel resale, same as the badges.

Once your hotel and badges are in order, you can relax and try to find some other international fans to connect with.  Making lasting connections is what I think SDCC is all about.  We come to this place we love, to find others who love the same things.  There will be tons of bonding time in the long lines, at restaurants and after parties.  SDCC becomes one long weekend of no sleep, but it is entirely worth it!

You can connect with Leonard on Twitter @EnglishmanSDCC, G+ An Englishman In San Diego and his official site http://www.anenglishmaninsandiego.com/.

Comment below if you have any additional questions about San Diego Comic Con. You can also check out our San Diego Comic Con Guide for more useful tips and tricks!  If this post helped you, share please share it with your friends!

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