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 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.
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.
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.