Valhalla. Nerdvana. Paradise. Whatever you want to call it, Comic-Con is just around the corner and if you're lucky enough to have tickets it's time to take inventory of your supplies and prepare for the challenges to come. Comic-Con is a battleground but these tips will help you not only survive the heat and crowds but make the most of this incredible experience.

Handy tips:

  • Start taking preventive measures against illness now, right this minute. You're going to be interacting with an incredibly diverse assortment of people in varying degrees of health. Wouldn't you rather spend the week after Comic-Con looking through pictures of your experience than being sick and miserable?
  • Charge early and at every available opportunity. Long days + lots of photo opportunities = a dead battery. Don't let that happen.
  • Don't be afraid to leave the convention center. Sure, absolute magic is happening and the fear of missing out is powerful. But Comic-Con isn't limited to a single hall and you can bet your bottom dollar that nearby restaurants and stores have gotten into the pop culture swing.
  • Ask permission before taking photos of cosplayers. Be an active participant, convey your appreciation for the work and time they put into it. Be respectful.
  • If you're cosplaying and your costume involves a weapon, security will check it to make sure that it isn't real so don't bring any ancient swords to Comic-Con because they won't let you in.
  • Be cool. Standing in lines isn't always fun and however much fun Comic-Con might be, it can be a high-stress situation. Rather than taking that frustration out on fellow fans, cosplayers and volunteers, remember that this is an experience you're sharing with your community and it's a pretty cool privilege to be there. However long you spend there and whatever you do, celebrate and enjoy the culture regardless of the challenges.
  • Eat a burrito. When in San Diego, always eat a burrito.
  • Don't drive. Parking will be a nightmare and between shuttles, buses, taxis, Uber and Lyft, you should be able to avoid driving. The convention provides free shuttles to loads of awesome locations within the city, including hotels. Better still, the shuttles run 24 hours per day in frequent intervals of 15-30 minutes.
  • Wear layers. It's hot outside, but a lot of the convention halls have AC which can feel like an Arctic blast when you're dressed for 90-degree weather.
  • Plan ahead for travel time. A walk that might normally take 15 minutes can take three times as long with large crowds.

What to bring:

  • Sunscreen. This doesn't require a lot of explanation.
  • Hand sanitizer. Because con flu sucks and it's real.
  • Anything you want signed.
  • Nobody likes a hangry cosplayer. Protein bars make a practical choice.
  • A water bottle. Stay hydrated so you don't get heatstroke and miss anything amazing. Also, avoid ridiculous prices for drinks.
  • Infinite patience. You're going to do a lot of waiting so bring some podcasts, audiobooks, ebooks, whatever helps you pass the time.
  • Mini sewing kit including a needle and thread, scissors and glue. If you've got a costume, just assume something will go wrong. And if you don't have a costume, chances are something will go wrong with someone else's costume providing you with the opportunity to swoop in and play the hero. Suggestions include safety pins and double-sided tape.
  • Deodorant. Sweat happens and you'll be in confined spaces with a lot of cool people.
  • Good walking shoes. You're going to be walking. A lot. Find something that looks and feels amazing. Bring a FitBit if you want to know exactly how far you've walked. There's a reasonable chance you'll be walking up to 20 miles this weekend. If you don't follow this advice, bring bandages for blisters.
  • Portable charging packs. You're gonna be snapping photos and video every .3 seconds and your phone's gonna need juice to make that happen.
  • A solid bag. You're not walking away from Comic-Con empty-handed, are you? Cuss no. You're gonna need somewhere to keep your swag.
  • Autograph Sharpies. Don't rely on Stan Lee having his own pen. Come prepared.
  • Pop! boxes. Get ‘em signed, folks.
  • Between blisters, headaches and overstimulation, pain happens. Be prepared with Ibuprofen, Aspirin or your pain-killer of choice.
  • A notebook. Want a signature but don't have any swag available to sign? Want to exchange information with someone? OK, you'll probably use your phone for that. But in case your phone's dead or you just like to do things old-school …
  • Cash. Sure, you'll have your cards but you just never know. Having cash on hand might just save you from having to stand in line at some point and you're going to be doing enough of that already.
  • A schedule. There is a lot happening this weekend and while some of it might be only moderately interesting to you, others might just be on your bucket list. Plan where you'd like to be and where you absolutely have to be and look at a map beforehand so you don't spend the entire weekend feeling lost.
Happy con!