It’s that time again. Last year I posted a story about not being excited for San Diego Comic-Con, and it seems I wasn’t alone. I was tired of the slog, of waiting in lines, of running all over San Diego and of studios complaining about fans filming footage and posting it online.

I’m still dreading it a little bit — OK, a lot. (I’ve got seven panels, covering for sites, two videos and an hour on stage.) Still, I wanted to give you a survival guide and some practical advice for enduring five days of geek madness. 

First of all, check out the schedule first and consider the distance and the lines. If you’re planning on seeing anything in Hall H (a place I avoid like the plague) or Ballroom 20, know that you’re likely going to be spending hours in line. Sometimes it will be overnight for things like the Marvel panels. If you’re going to do that, be courteous. Bring a chair or a cushion, water and snacks. In terms of distance, getting around is kind of a nightmare. You have to cross train tracks with scores of people to even get in the convention center, and if something is at the Hilton Bayfront, you need to leave yourself at least 20 minutes to get from place to place. At least. 

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Food lines are a nightmare, generally, and it’s all going to be crap. If you want to stay healthy, leave yourself time to get from the convention center to some of the very good restaurants around the gaslight district. Remember that it will be blocks before you find something that doesn’t have a wait, so schedule in time for that, too.

Next — and this is true for all conventions — cosplay is not consent. You do not have the right to touch cosplayers in any way, nor are they dressed up to be harassed. They are not “asking for it” because of their costumes. You ask to take pictures, you treat them with respect and you kindly walk away if they refuse. (The “asking for it” thing is something I actually heard at my last con a few months ago, so it bears repeating.)

I know you’ve heard this over and over and I don’t want you to add to the sweaty nerds stereotype, but: Please shower and use deodorant. San Diego is hot and you’re going to be walking around outside a lot to get from place to place. Use more than usual. Please. 

Finally, talk to your fellow geeks. Most of us are friendly. (Leave if someone isn’t interested. That should go without saying, but sadly, it doesn’t.) The world is an ugly place lately. At least here, we have a group of generally wonderful people who share a love of geeky things. Make a new friend. Make several. The only thing that can combat hate is love and kindness. If you see me, come say hi.

Follow Jenna Busch on Twitter @jennabusch and visit her site, Legion of Leia