While many attendees are settling into their hotel rooms this afternoon, there are quite a few who are preparing for four days spent driving between their home and the convention center.
I spent seven years commuting in from Orange County for multiple days of SDCC. Here are the tips you need to keep yourself sane this weekend.
1. Use an alternate route.
Don’t follow the exit signs that CalTrans posts unless you absolutely have to – they will often direct you to exit at Front or Imperial, and so will all those other people you’re stuck in a traffic jam with. Make use of the Waze app for real-time traffic updates and check out our map of alternate routes below.
2. Know where you’re parking.
You most likely have pre-purchased your parking permits. Make sure you have directions to your parking lot, not the convention center. If you haven’t pre-purchased parking permits, things just got a lot more difficult for you. Ace Parking has closed the pre-sale already, but you may find lots in the Gaslamp that were not pre-sold. (Watch out! Some lots jack up rates to be upwards of $50 a day.) You can also look for park and ride lots along the San Diego MTS trolley routes and then take the trolley into downtown. Parking at these lots is free and the trolley costs $2.50 each way. For those planning to camp overnight in a line, Horton Plaza reportedly allows 24-hour parking. Another cheap option is long-term airport parking.
3. Leave early.
Especially if you don’t have pre-paid parking permits, are attempting to get into popular panels in Hall H or Ballroom 20, or want to be the first ones on the floor to buy exclusives. But everyone should leave early – leaving before dawn will help you avoid weekday rush hour traffic and you’ll beat in the more casual commuters that arrive later in the morning.
Leaving early also applies to the end of your day – you need enough energy to safely drive home, and you’re going to get up early tomorrow and do it all over again. Take a rain check on that 9:00 PM panel or that late-night bar crawl and head home to rest. And try to have an emergency plan in the event you’re too tired to drive. Maybe a family member can pick you up, or if you’re close enough, a cab or rideshare would be expensive but worth it. Stay safe!
4. Pack wisely.
Unlike your hotel-having compatriots, you don’t have the luxury of dropping things off in your hotel room mid-day. You can make use of the bag check service at the convention center (head towards the FedEx in the lobby, it’s usually $1-$2 per item) for purchases or camping gear if you’re overnighting in a line. But otherwise, you need to pack enough to get through the day but not so much that your back aches by noon. This can be a real challenge! There is water available inside panel rooms, but convention center food is terrible: carry snacks but opt for a refillable water bottle. Hang on to a light sweater for chilly programming rooms, but check that parka you wore outside at 6 AM by the windy waterfront.
5. Keep things in perspective.
Traffic can be frustrating. You’re about to spend four days dealing with it in the morning and going home at night, plus the sea of humanity you’ll face at the convention center. Commuting is a big money saver and it makes a lot of sense for many people – but it can be tiring and stressful nonetheless. Don’t let it get in the way of having a good time. If you need to miss a panel and head home early to rest, don’t get upset. If you drop a few extra bucks on bag check every day so you don’t have to lug those bags of exclusives back to your car, don’t feel guilty. Everybody does the con differently – as long as you’re enjoying yourself, you’re doing it right!
How do you handle a long commute to Comic-Con? Let us know below!