When my boyfriend pitched the idea of going to New York Comic Con (NYCC) earlier this year, I was completely on board. It was the first time that we would be going on an actual vacation together; even if it was only an hour away from home. I had never thought about it before, despite the actual cheap cost to get tickets. Either way, I was pumped. We arrived a day early, woke up even earlier the next day and well…we missed a lot of things.

The best way to describe going the first time to a Comic Con: it is like going a cross between going to an Ikea for the first time and a giant flea market, at a marathon pace. From the moment you enter til even after the booths close down, there is something going on. Sadly to say, I was unprepared. I missed tons of panels I wanted to see. I missed even more autograph opportunities and freebies by not even knowing about them. So, without further ado, here is my guide to navigating Comic Con and surviving!

Everything here is based on the idea of a four day ticket, and staying over in NYC. Just remember, moderation is necessary! These are my ten essential things to making the most out of your pass at NYCC:

1. Read Up and Plan Ahead! I went in blind and missed a lot. Once you have your tickets, start planning. Plan out your days loosely; choose which panels and signings you want to go to. And, do not be upset if a panel gets cancelled! Venues change and guests cancel.

Additionally, Get your tickets shipped! It may cost you a few dollars more, but really it is worth it. If you are getting a hotel, use the ones approved by NYCC. You will get a discount rate and shuttles!

2. Arrive Early! We saved a bit of cash for an extra night in the hotel, but it was worth it. We got to stake out our surroundings, figure out our shuttle and get a good night sleep.

Queue hall is a long wait, but you can meet some awesome people. It’s worth waking up a bit earlier to wait.

3. Pack Light. This was my biggest mistake! I was so worried about weather and going out afterwards, I really over packed. Listen to me when I say you will be way too tired to go out after.

Bring a backpack. Swag (free stuff) is given out by many of the vendors—everything from hoodies to stickers.

4. Hydrate and Eat. Yeah, yeah, you are probably thinking this is common sense, but when you are running about you forget. Schedule a break away from everything. My pedometer counted an average of ten miles per day.

5. Bring Food and Drinks or Be Prepared to Leave the Venue. I kid you not when I say that water costs just about $3.75 inside the venue. The cheapest food we did find inside the venue was $6 mac and cheese from a food truck, but the drinks were still very expensive. If you step just outside, street carts have affordable prices. We found some great restaurants on 9th Avenue that were very affordable with awesome food. Get away, take a break.

6. Duane Reade: Know It, Love It. They are a branch of Walgreens and are everywhere in Manhattan. If you need medicine or forgot something, they’ll have it.

7. Leave Your Shopping Until The End of the Day. You will be happy when your art isn’t bent and bruised, and well… you still have cash from that “unwise purchase.”

8. Keep Calm and Walk On. The event is packed, especially Friday and Saturday. By lunch of Saturday, I was feeling pretty punchy and cranky. I was pushed by some big guy into someone taking a photo. It was time to take a break

Also, cosplayers are awesome! Respect them. Do not stand in the middle of an aisle for a photo op. You will back up traffic and make people angry.

9. Rest and Refuel. When staying over, plan a light evening. You may feel pumped leaving Comic Con, but the next day your body will be sore!

10. Do not fear eating out in NYC! I cannot say this enough, stay away from “branch food restaurants.” They are very expensive and you will end up waiting in line. We found Woorijip (Korean Food) down on 32nd Street off of Broadway, Scallywags (American/Irish) on 9th Avenue around 38th Street and last but not least… street vendors. We found an awesome Indian street vendor right outside our hotel. Yes, we did shwarma ala Tony Stark.

I know it is a lot to take in, but I have to say I had the best time there. I met some great people. We got to do see a lot of cool things. We took home a ton of swag. All in all, I have to say if you have the time to do it, GO! Hopefully, my ten suggestions will help you navigate your first NYCC experience! See you next year!

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