Tag Archives: San Diego

SDCC 2016: Take Public Transport!

So in my earlier post, I have shown you how to avoid being homeless in San Diego during one of the biggest comic-cons in the country. Now that you have a place to stay, the next crucial element will be getting around. Traffic during San Diego Comic-Con is a beast. You have 130,000 nerds, geeks, and cosplayers converging on one place at the same time. It’s chaotic. Not intimidating chaotic but chaotic none the less. There are so many amazing events located around the con so reliable transportation is a must.
Renting A Car is A Blessing and A Curse
Now this would be the obvious option for you. You will have dedicated transportation throughout your trip and the ability to see all the sights of San Diego. Again, we are back to that untamable beast that is traffic. You will be spending a lot of time sitting in traffic during this visit. In addition to horrible traffic, parking is extremely limited. Now, you can take your chances with Ace Parking Lottery sponsored through SDCC. As if the lottery to get badges or a lower (but still) high-cost hotel wasn’t enough, you can now take part in a chance to buy a parking spot in a, hopefully, close location. If luck is not a lady and backhands you out of the lottery, you have to take your chances with overpriced parking garages and lots. See where I am going here?
Public Transport: Your New Best Friend
While planning my trip to SDCC in 2015, I found out all this info about the car rental situation and was immediately discouraged. I knew my primary focus would be the con activities so I didn’t need to rent a car. I did, however, learn more about San Diego’s excellent public transportation system. I am not from a large metropolitan city so I have never known the usefulness of public transport. However, the San Diego MTS is pretty sweet. Their system includes buses, trolleys, and high-speed trains. Both the trolley and buses run to Downtown San Diego with the trolley having a specific “Convention Center” stop. You can even estimate your travel and costs using the MTS app, mTicket (Available in Google Play and the Apple App Store) or Google Maps. All lines of service are seamlessly integrated into the app and you can conveniently find the nearest and latest stops.

Paying for your ride is quite simple. You can either: provide exact change for your ride (for buses only), buy a single ride pass, or buy a single day or multi-day pass on a Compass Card. MTS offers special reduced rates for Comic Con as well. Passes can be purchased at designated stations, ticketing booths, and trolley ticketing vending machines. Since I knew I would need to take both the bus and trolley, I opted to purchase a Compass Card (for $2) and add a 4-day pass. This guaranteed unlimited rides on all buses and trolleys during my stay.

For everything else, Take Uber or Lyft
The only limitation with using the MTS is the run times. If you plan on partying late into the evenings, you will have to find another for your transportation. My personal go-to is always Uber. I keep the app on my phone at all times and set up with my payment options. I used it after standing in the Hall H line until 2:30 am (and yes, I did get my wristband) and safely returned to my vacation rental. Lyft is also a great option that is steadily expanding its markets across the country. The best feature of both services is the ability to contact your driver and track their arrival. No need for exact change or credit cards. Proactively set up your account and save your payment info if your plan on a heavy night of drinking. Believe me, it helps! You can also save your hotel info as a favorite, saving you the trouble of trying to remember it later. Be aware that during holidays and large scale events, their rates can double. 

Here are a few links to some of the services described above including your first free ride with Lyft or Uber on me:

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Website: http://www.sdmts.com/

Lyft: Your First Ride Is Free…On Me!

Uber: Your First Ride Is Free…On Me!

SDCC 2016: Where Do I Stay?

Now that the living nightmare that is Open Registration has ended, it’s time to make some serious plans for SDCC. More than likely, you were only focused on scoring badges for you and your friend. Success! Now you have to concentrate on all of the others details of your trip: transportation, car rental, a hotel, spending money, meals, etc… But $2000-$3000 later, you are probably going to wish you had done a GoFundMe or, at the very least, a car wash to raise these funds before buying those non-transferable badges. However, finding a place to stay is one of the largest expenses of your upcoming trip to San Diego.

Hotels

IMG_20160303_223747_319

Hotels have already increased the prices for the convention so you will start to see rooms available for $200-$400 per night. And if you are hoping to stay in Downtown San Diego, the location of the San Diego Convention Center, your wallets will definitely be taking a beating. If you are determined to stay in the middle of the action, you have to start your search now. You can either search on your own or try to score a room through the SDCC sale. In fact, the Early Bird hotel special, sponsored by SDCC, offers a discount on hotel rates in specific hotels that are on the free SDCC shuttle route. Be very mindful of this sale because once you book, you cannot get a refund nor can you exchange the room. These hotels are located more in Mission Valley and near the airport. The downtown hotels will be offered in a later Hotel Registration to be conducted in a month or so. Both sales are a lottery system and do not guarantee a room.

Concerning location, hotels in the Gaslamp Quarter area are going to be the most expensive. This area is within walking distance of the Convention Center. Believe me, this definitely comes in handy after spending all day trying to cover 530,000+ square feet of the SDCC. Other areas to consider include the Marna District, Little Italy, and East Village. Hotels in Mission Valley and near the airports will require some form of transportation. Make sure you check the distance between your hotel and the Convention Center before you book. Use Google Maps to locate any nearby bus stops, and trolley stops to ensure easy travel. Just be advised that if you decide to rent a car, parking will be scarce and traffic will be horrendous. 

Vacation Rentals

IMG_20160303_222920_339
The wonderful view from my beachfront vacation rental

When I traveled to SDCC 2015, I was not concerned with being near the other 130,000 other visitors. I wanted a place near the beach and away from the nerdtastic chaos. Instead of looking for a hotel, I opted to locate a vacation rental. This option turned out to be cheaper and more relaxing. My rental, which was right on Mission Beach, was about 20 minutes away from Downtown San Diego. However, I took advantage of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (or MTS) and took a bus from my rental to the Old Town Transit Center and traveled by trolley downtown. It was such a peaceful ride and, while on the bus, I would review my “plan of action” for the day at the Con. I was also a 2-minute walk Belmont Park, a beachfront amusement park. As you can imagine, I had an endless supply of candied apples, hot dogs, and rides every day! Even if your only focus is SDCC and its surrounding activities, you can easily find an affordable vacation rental downtown. 

IMG_20160303_221535_057
The fantastic view from my beachfront vacation rental

Start your search at vacation rental sites like HomeAway.com, vacation rental section of TripAdvisor.com, VRBO.com and Flipkey.com. If you don’t mind renting a room in someone’s house or bunking with a stranger, check out sites like Airbnb.com and Couchsurfing.org. Be sure to read through the fool details of the rental agreements and verify your dates, the pricing and any deposits that might be required. Again, make sure you check into all options for transportation if you decided to stay a safe distance away from the action.