For pop culture devotees—nerds, if you’re nasty—San Diego Comic-Con is the most exciting time of the year. It’s also the most stressful. The crowds, the tough choices, the persistent stench of BO: It’s a lot to take in. We here at TV.com want your Comic-Con experience to be as pleasant as possible, whether you’re a first-time attendee or a repeat offender. Here are some tips to surviving the madness.
1. Plan your schedule in advance.
It’s overwhelming, but the sooner you figure out where you’re going to be and when, the better. If you’re not much a planner, pretend that you are. Being spontaneous doesn’t pay off when panels fill up fast.
2.Commit to a room.
If you can, pick a room and stick with it. Most of the TV panels are in Ballroom 20, just to give you a hint. Lines get long, and if you want to get a good seat for the True Blood panel, your best bet is sitting through a few panels you’re less excited about.
3. Arrive early. Like, really early.
Showing up at 6 a.m. for a 10 a.m. panel is not unreasonable. There will be a line, trust us. And while we’re not all morning people, it’s easy to make friends when you’re all punch-drunk from lack of sleep and can bond over Chuck.
4. Accept the fact that you can’t see everything.
You’ve got to be realistic about this. While ideally we’d all have those Harry Potter Time-Turner thingies—seriously, how useful would that be?—the truth is you’re going to miss some of what you want to see. Cry a little, then move on.
5. Pack something to eat.
Food in the convention center is pricey, and you’re going to need replenishment after six hours on your feet. Remember, passing out from low blood sugar during the Supernatural panel doesn’t necessarily mean Jensen Ackles will give you mouth-to-mouth.
6. Practice good hygiene.
Please, I can’t stress this enough. By day three, the convention center will smell like a locker room—it’s unavoidable. San Diego is hot and some people are allergic to showers. Don’t be part of the problem.
7. Remember that celebrities are people, too.
There’s a good chance you’re going to run into someone famous outside of a panel. Mostly, they are cool with autographs and photos, unless they’re in a rush. Either way, keep in mind that they enjoy personal space and not being groped. Make any requests politely.
8. Carry your camera everywhere.
You’re going to feel pretty lame if you spot Nathan Fillion and don’t have a camera to record the moment. Photos with famous people give you bragging rights.
9. Keep your phone on.
If you’re a lone wolf, this is less of an issue, but chances are you’re traveling with a pack. It’s easy to get lost in the crowd, so make sure you have a back-up and don’t leave your friends hanging.
10. Have fun.
Yes, I know this sounds lame and intuitive because duh, that’s the point. Still, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of Comic-Con and forget about the joy of nerding out. Take it easy. Focus on your passions. Know that, no matter what, you’re making everyone who's not at Comic-Con jealous.
Follow TV.com writer Louis Peitzman on Twitter: @LouisAtTVDotCom