Staying healthy at Comic-Con

2 JULY 2015

It's time for me to sound like your mom and lecture you on taking care of yourself at Comic-Con. Let me say first that if you're going to SDCC, you're obviously a wily sort who was able to navigate the online sales and avoid certain pitfalls, so you probably can take care of yourself just fine. But there are a few considerations specific to SDCC that people don't always anticipate.

Take care of your feet. 

You'll be walking a lot, which means you'll want to wear supportive footwear, bring moleskin and bandaids, and generally be judicious about how much optional foot travel you do. If you're a first-timer who's a vain little kitten, you might think you can just soldier through in high heels. But as someone who also wears heels everywhere, I still break out dorky supportive shoes for SDCC. It's worth it. Save the heels for your nocturnal adventures (and even then you might choose comfort over vanity.)

Bring supplies to dull the pain. 

Aspirin, ibuprofen and other painkillers can save your life at SDCC. If you're prone to headaches, the Exhibit Hall volume can do a number on your skull. Your plantar fasciitis can flare up or your hotel pillow can bother your neck. Troubled knees, feet, backs and hips can be pushed to the limit at Comic-Con. Even just sitting or standing in line for long periods can be difficult for some people. Commenters Ferd and Gail brought small fold-up stools to make their line waits more comfortable, which is a great idea.

Get assistance if you need it.

SDCC is a demanding experience; don't make things harder on yourself than they have to be. CCI provides a wealth of resources to help out attendees who need it. This includes rest areas, private areas for nursing mothers, a first aid team, wheelchairs, ASL interpreters and special seating for large events. If you have mobility issues or any other circumstance that could benefit from a helping hand, go ahead and ask for it.

Boost your immunity

If you're the type to easily catch colds and viruses, practice whatever faux-medical juju you normally do through echinacea, bee pollen, Emergen-C, etc. I've never gotten sick from the Con but other people swear that Con Crud is real. And you will be touching escalator railings, book covers, photo ops, seats and other surfaces recently contaminated by dozens or hundreds of others.

Protect your skin

You might be outside more than you think. It's not just Hall H that lines up outside - other rooms do too and there are lines for picking up your badge or getting an autograph or exclusives ticket that can post you out by the waterfront. You might also walk to the Gaslamp for lunch or go to the library or Horton Theatre for a panel. Wear sunscreen.

Protect everything. 

People hook up at Comic-Con all the time. It happens. And often it happens late at night when your hotel gift shop is closed, you have no idea where the nearest pharmacy is, and you're too tired to go on a hunt. So if there's even the teeniest sub-atomic particle of a chance you'd be open to meeting someone, bring condoms. There are some souvenirs you don't want to bring home from SDCC.

Eat well. 

Some people like to eat lightly at SDCC; others feel powered by eating luxurious monster meals. In general, try to eat well. Don't skip a lot of meals. Don't live off a box of pop-tarts in your room. You're going to undergo a physically draining and sometimes emotionally frustrating experience, so set yourself up to be energized and in a good mood. 

Everyone has their tricks - some people grab a huge sub at the all-night Subway and keep it in their bag; others bring sandwiches and cookies into the Con with them. Winging it means you'll need to rely on the Exhibit Hall food court (not recommended) or venture out - which can mean losing hours as you cross the street, find a restaurant, put your name on a list and then wait to be seated. Personally I eat a lavish breakfast every morning, then carry apples and granola bars with me into the Con. That way I never have to choose between a panel line and my growling stomach a few hours later. And I always make time for a good meal at night, no matter what.

You can see a few suggestions in my eating well post last year. And of course keep in mind SDCC's Restaurant Guide.

Stay hydrated

I know, how obvious. But Con-going is thirsty work. Attendees may not realize dehydrating it is to be doing all that walking. And buying bottled water on site adds up fast. Bring enough water to get you through the lines and the exertion. As a hiker I follow the "If you're halfway through your water, you're halfway through your hike" rule; consider the same for SDCC and monitor how fast your water goes your first day. You'll understand how much more you need the next day.

Be moderate in your debauchery. 

Obviously the nightlife at SDCC is rich with potential. And for every "official" party you see listed, there are hundreds of private hotel room parties, unadvertised shows and underground events and bar crawls between friends. It seems like an invitation to go wild. But I'd caution against overindulging. Even if you can pull off all-nighters at home without feeling much pain, SDCC is a much more demanding experience. You'll be irritable and tired and probably wind up collapsing at some point and missing a lot of the Con. 

And it can impact your friends. I had a friend who was so viciously hungover one Sunday morning that she wound up in the convention center's first aid area, and we had to leave at 10:30. We missed the entire last day of the Con. Another year a friend's friend got so high that he got lost and we were looking for him on various deserted streets until 3 a.m. It's just not worth it. Save your chemical excesses for home so you can enjoy the Con to the fullest.

Prepare mental and emotional resources. 

Maybe you're sensitive to crowds and noise. Maybe you're traveling in a group with someone who's working your last nerve. Maybe the Con isn't at all what you expected and you're on the verge of tears for multiple reasons. Make sure you have friends back home you can call and unload on. If you're in therapeutic care and you think the Con might push your buttons, see ahead of time if you can call your therapist. Bring any meds you need. Look up nearby meetings if you're in recovery. Comic-Con can be stressful for everyone and there is no shame in getting some help if you find yourself struggling.

Take a break.

Often you don't realize how overwhelmed you are until it's too late. It's always a good idea to cut yourself off from the chaos for a bit. Go hang out in the dark Playback Room at the Omni and just isolate for an hour or two. Go swimming at your hotel. Go to the beach. Tell your friends you need some time alone and ask everyone to let you have the hotel room to yourself for a bit. And if you've got some cash to burn, schedule a massage - it'll be like the heavens opened up and poured relief down upon your stiff Comic-Con muscles.

Get your rest. 

When I first started going to SDCC, I would have various escapades all night, return home around 4, sleep for 3 hours and bounce out of bed ready for the day. It caught up with me quick. Now I make a point to be in bed no later than midnight or 1 a.m. If I'm going to be out super late, I nap first. Obviously your attitude on this depends on why you're at the Con - if you're there to carouse all night, have at it. But if you're there to actually do panels and compete in gaming tournaments and explore the activities, you'll want to be fairly peppy.

And that's my wellness advice. If you've never been to San Diego Comic-Con before, you might think I'm exaggerating the demands it puts on you. But for those attendees who like to live the Con to the fullest, being in top shape isn't just important, it's required. I know you want to have a magical time next week. Take care of yourself and you probably will.


  1. Plantar fasciitis is a very painful condition where at the bottom of the foot’s plantar fascia becomes inflamed due to a number of reasons. When this happens the plantar fascia or a tissue ligament (which is easier to understand) becomes swollen and irritated. Hence, for such persons it is very important that they wear special shoes that are specifically designed managing this condition.

  2. Great post. You talk about interesting post. But you must know about plantar fasciitis. Some boots and shoes protect us from plantar fasciitis. so be careful about plantar fasciitis. Thanks in this post. I am waiting for your next post

  3. Thanks for sharing these! I agree people usually overlook HUGE events like these and just go there without getting prepped. I also agree to make sure to wear a comfortable footwear. Going there on heels will never do you any good - trust me.

    1. Footwear can make or break your whole Con.