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International Travellers Guide to PAX Prime 2011

2

Posts

  • JHawkJHawk Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Never really knew that the U.S. was the only place that did tips, guess waiters in other countries like me by now =D

    Great advice given here, a couple things to add:

    Currency exchange, won't be a problem if you are using a card, but if you bring your country's cash you'll of course have to trade them in for US dollars; check exchange rates as well. If possible do NOT do this at the airport, they will always over-price the rate to make a profit.

    Transportation in Seattle is crazy, but assuming most of you are staying in downtown hotels, TAKE THE LIGHTRAIL, it'll cost a tiny fraction of a taxi for the same time/distance, and you can socialize. Look to the transportation thread for more help on this.

    Finally, don't be embarrassed to ask locals for directions, help with ticket machines, good restaurants etc. Most of us will be happy to help!

    Hope all the foreigners have a good trip. Welcome to Seattle!

  • thegh0ststhegh0sts Sydney, NSWRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    regarding the lightrail/trains: what's the nearest stop to the convention centre/dexter ave N?

    EDIT: figured it out! it looks like i'll need to take the central light rail to the end of the line and then walk for 15mins....at least i won't be walking with wheeled luggage.

    Next PAX: TBA
    Previous PAXs: PAX Prime 2011, PAX AUS 2013
  • AnorornAnororn Registered User
    edited June 2011
    thegh0sts wrote: »
    regarding the lightrail/trains: what's the nearest stop to the convention centre/dexter ave N?

    EDIT: figured it out! it looks like i'll need to take the central light rail to the end of the line and then walk for 15mins....at least i won't be walking with wheeled luggage.

    Well, you've figured it out, but I'll mention it here anyway in case anyone else is curious. I'm assuming that people are going to either the Sheraton or the convention center.

    When taking the light rail from the airport, you'll want to stay on until you get to Westlake Station. This is also the last stop, and the conductor will do a quick sweep to make sure that everyone's off, so you don't need to worry about missing the stop.

    Once you get off the train, go upstairs. There are exits at each end of the station, and a couple that lead into department stores (I think the exit leading into the actual Westlake Mall will still be closed then). The exit near the giant clock is the one that will get you closest to the Sheraton and the convention center. Once you're on the street, cross Pine Street (the street one you come out on), walk one block, then turn left on Pike. the Sheraton is across the street, and the convention center is one block further.

    If you need to get as close to the convention center as you can before you start walking, stay on the platform after you get off the train, and wait for the next bus to come by. Get on (any bus will work, and it's free if you're in the tunnel and it's between 6am and 7pm), and ride one stop to get to Convention Place Station. Go upstairs, and turn left. Cross the street, and keep going until you reach the convention center (one block past the Paramount). If you're going to the Sheraton, turn right, and walk about two blocks.

  • drspacemonkey2drspacemonkey2 Registered User
    edited June 2011
    kropotkin wrote: »
    8) Power

    If you want to be able to continue to charge your DS and/or PSP you need to bring an adaptor. The giant UK plugs don't fit too well in US sockets so do buy a power plug adaptor before you head off. Also note that whilst your PSP and Laptop will work fine off of the 110v US power supply it won't work at all for any consoles, should you be even considering bringing one. Don't, it just won't work without some kind of step up transformer to bring it up to 240v. Then there's the PAL output which makes things even more complicated...

    Note: UK DS & DSi Chargers will need a step up transformer to function. Follow this link to order yourself one: Stepup Transformer and Maplin sell on for £25 here.

    Alternatively you can grab one of these things. It's a universal charger that can plug into any socket on the planet. It also has a built in solar panel!
    Spoiler:

    Alternatively, you can just buy a cheap 3rd party charger in Boston. By doing so you do carry the risk of voiding your warranty with Nintendo, as it's a third party charger! You have been warned!

    Here's a tip: if you're like me, most of your portable devices can be charged via USB. My phone, Kindle, tablet, DS, etc - all USB chargable. Some devices you'll have to pick up an adapter cable (most of them available from DealExtreme for $1-$3 USD with free shipping almost worldwide). Then all you have to do is pick up a powered USB hub with a 110/240v power brick (most of them are, just double-check before you spend any money). I charge pretty much everything all at once off a single hub and I only have to carry a single plug adapter with me.

    Here's a few items off the top of my head from DealExtreme:

    USB Charging Cable for NDSi/DSi
    USB Charging Cable for NDS Lite
    Universal USB Power Charging Cable for iPod/PSP/NDS/NDSi/NDS Lite/MP3/MP4/iPhone 2G/3G
    USB Data and Charging Cable for PSP 3000/2000/1000 (110cm-Length)

    Just a tip from some poor bastard who has found himself hauling small suitcases to cheap hotels a lot in the past few months.

    PS: For international travelers, what sort of distance do you have to cover to get to PAX? I'm looking at about 12,500km.

  • thegh0ststhegh0sts Sydney, NSWRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    stupid question: are locals generally friendly?

    yes....stupid!

    :p

    Next PAX: TBA
    Previous PAXs: PAX Prime 2011, PAX AUS 2013
  • drspacemonkey2drspacemonkey2 Registered User
    edited June 2011
    thegh0sts wrote: »
    stupid question: are locals generally friendly?

    yes....stupid!

    :p

    Based on my experience last year, yes.

  • thegh0ststhegh0sts Sydney, NSWRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    thegh0sts wrote: »
    stupid question: are locals generally friendly?

    yes....stupid!

    :p

    Based on my experience last year, yes.

    cool, i hate basing things on negative pre-conceived notions....ruins the fun.

    EDIT: don't get me wrong i am super excited to be heading over to North America and meeting new people, i just dislike the minority that just have to be douchebags because they want to.

    Next PAX: TBA
    Previous PAXs: PAX Prime 2011, PAX AUS 2013
  • tokyodovetokyodove Perth, WARegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    anybody know whats the go with restaurants/bars? I don't drink alcohol but im only 20 and where im from drinking age is 18, and obviously Id have to abide by local laws, but would I still be able to go in with people over the drinking age?

  • Curse-TenCurse-Ten Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    tokyodove wrote: »
    anybody know whats the go with restaurants/bars? I don't drink alcohol but im only 20 and where im from drinking age is 18, and obviously Id have to abide by local laws, but would I still be able to go in with people over the drinking age?

    Probably not, laws can be pretty strict regarding minors in bars. At the university I meet so many people who are 18 and legal in their country but can't go into any bar around campus.

  • thegh0ststhegh0sts Sydney, NSWRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    thank goodness i am not 21 or under: though i don't really drink much and not much of a drinker (unless you count coca cola).

    Next PAX: TBA
    Previous PAXs: PAX Prime 2011, PAX AUS 2013
  • Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited June 2011
    I think the basic distinction is if the place is a bar or a bar/restaurant. Places that are both allow under 21 into the restaurant area, just not in the bar area.

    And no, just because they serve food doesn't make then a bar/restaurant.

  • thegh0ststhegh0sts Sydney, NSWRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    should i be worried about the TSA on my arrival?

    EDIT: cos I am planning to bring my alienware M11x with me to document my trip (see blog in sig) and I have read the horror stories of the TSA stealing passenger valuables.

    Next PAX: TBA
    Previous PAXs: PAX Prime 2011, PAX AUS 2013
  • Reverend SnideReverend Snide Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Laptops/notebooks should travel with you as hand luggage- I'd be more worried about baggage handlers being, er, casual than airport screeners pinching stuff. Never pack breakables or valuables (or breakable valuables) in checked bags.

    The process for scanning hand luggage is similar to that here, although the TSA are a little more picky (you have to take your shoes off, for example, and some airports have the Nude-O-Scope full body scanners rather than simple X-rays).

    Have miles, will travel | Twitter | XBL: Reverend Snide | Wii U/PSN: ReverendSnide
  • thegh0ststhegh0sts Sydney, NSWRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Laptops/notebooks should travel with you as hand luggage- I'd be more worried about baggage handlers being, er, casual than airport screeners pinching stuff. Never pack breakables or valuables (or breakable valuables) in checked bags.

    The process for scanning hand luggage is similar to that here, although the TSA are a little more picky (you have to take your shoes off, for example, and some airports have the Nude-O-Scope full body scanners rather than simple X-rays).

    i am concern as at that point, when you're in the scanner, is the perfect opportunity to steal stuff. i don't want some fat bloke groping my package!

    Next PAX: TBA
    Previous PAXs: PAX Prime 2011, PAX AUS 2013
  • kropotkinkropotkin Mr London UKRegistered User regular
    This is a quick reminder to those travelling to PAX from foreign climes to ensure all of their documenation is in place with regards to passport, VISA Waiver applications and a sound knowledge on how to tip! It's a month away now, so you have enough time to ready yourselves :)

  • tokyodovetokyodove Perth, WARegistered User regular
    im not so worried about seattle coz i know theres going to be alot of friendly people around, but anybody know whats the go with public transport in LA and san fran? i've had one guy tell me that if i go on a bus in LA ill get stabbed.....sure hope he was exaggerating.......

  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    thegh0sts wrote: »
    stupid question: are locals generally friendly?

    yes....stupid!

    :p

    Based on my experience last year, yes.

    For the most part, you will be interacting with PAX people and staff at local businesses. I've always found everyone to be super friendly, except that one taxi driver who was a bit of a dick because I couldn't tip, as I hadn't factored it in to my spending, being from Britain and visiting for the first time. BUT ANYWAY.

    The one thing that surprised me about downtown Seattle was that there's a lot of homeless people. They're the same as any other homeless folk in any other city - mostly decent people, but be as wary as you would anywhere else when walking around.

    @vgreminders - Don't miss out on timed events in gaming!
    @gamefacts - Totally and utterly true gaming facts on the regular!
  • tokyodovetokyodove Perth, WARegistered User regular
    anybody coming from UK/Aus/anywhere further then 10 hours from Seattle- whats the jetlag like on arriving?

  • kropotkinkropotkin Mr London UKRegistered User regular
    tokyodove wrote:
    anybody coming from UK/Aus/anywhere further then 10 hours from Seattle- whats the jetlag like on arriving?

    It depends on the direction you're flying in from. East to West is th end of a long day, but you don't feel as bad as West to East. This can utterly wipe you out for a day or so.

  • zezspecszezspecs Registered User regular
    kropotkin wrote:
    tokyodove wrote:
    anybody coming from UK/Aus/anywhere further then 10 hours from Seattle- whats the jetlag like on arriving?

    It depends on the direction you're flying in from. East to West is th end of a long day, but you don't feel as bad as West to East. This can utterly wipe you out for a day or so.

    I will have to second that one as one who's had to fly back and forth from the UK to the east coast of the US for school several times in the past year. Even on the shorter flight, I generally need more time to recover flying to west to east than I do east to west.

  • tokyodovetokyodove Perth, WARegistered User regular
    so by west to east you mean flying over russia to get to seattle, and east to west would be flying over new york to get to seattle?

    im leaving from sydney in AUS so that would make it...........west to east yeh?

  • Reverend SnideReverend Snide Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Yeah, you're going from West to East.

    The jet lag thing is manageable if you can get a few hours' sleep on the long-haul flight.

    My flight this year leaves BNE at 10:20 and takes 13 hours to get to LAX. But 23:25 for me means 06:25 in the morning in LAX, so I'll have a whole day to get through before reaching my comfy, comfy hotel bed. Not to mention a few hours in airports queueing for CBP, queueing for connecting flights, queueing for TSA, queueing for Starbucks... nothing is more tiring than doing nothing. :)

    If you can get some shut-eye on the plane- ANY sleep is better than NO sleep- you'll be reasonably able to face the day on arrival in the USA. If I can get through the first day, get an early night and a full night's sleep, generally I find I'm fine and not jet-lagged after that.

    Ninja edit: This link at MedicineNet has more info on avoiding jet lag.

    --

    On a tangent: I made the mistake on my first trip of doing the Qantas Movie Marathon on the way over- no sleep, just non-stop movies. (I did the return flight home on the A380 superjumbo. That flight had popcorn!) I knew I was in for a long day when I arrived, but I figured I'd spend most of it in queues. No dice- flights were exactly on time, I was in and out of CBP in a jiffy, the terminal for the connecting flight to SEA was five minutes' walk away, and there were no lines at check-in.

    I spent the next five hours in Terminal 3 at LAX doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I had purchased US$100 in cash so I had money on arrival, and I think I spent all of it on coffee that morning. But I caught my flight. :P

    Reverend Snide on
    Have miles, will travel | Twitter | XBL: Reverend Snide | Wii U/PSN: ReverendSnide
  • tokyodovetokyodove Perth, WARegistered User regular
    cheers rev that helps me alot :D stupid 21st century shouldn't we be beaming everywhere star trek style by now instead of still using planes?!?

  • drspacemonkey2drspacemonkey2 Registered User
    edited August 2011
    I spent the next five hours in Terminal 3 at LAX doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I had purchased US$100 in cash so I had money on arrival, and I think I spent all of it on coffee that morning. But I caught my flight. :P

    Ugh. I hate those stops - you're there long enough that you've seen everything you could possibly want to at the airport (not to mention all the money those places manage to squeeze out of you), but not long enough to leave the secure area to hit up some sights. That's why I like Schipol so much. Since they do their security screening right at the gate, even a stopover of 5 hours is plenty of time to get in some adventuring.

    drspacemonkey2 on
  • Reverend SnideReverend Snide Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Ugh. I hate those stops - you're there long enough that you've seen everything you could possibly want to at the airport (not to mention all the money those places manage to squeeze out of you), but not long enough to leave the secure area to hit up some sights.

    There isn't even much variety of that at LAX T3- there's Starbucks, Burger King, and a newsstand, and THAT'S IT. Unless you're willing to pony up for lounge access.

    (The miles tally from three previous PAX runs means I have status for lounge access, but not with any of the airlines at T3.)

    Less than three weeks to go- everyone got their ESTA sorted out, I hope? Hint, hint. :)

    Reverend Snide on
    Have miles, will travel | Twitter | XBL: Reverend Snide | Wii U/PSN: ReverendSnide
  • tokyodovetokyodove Perth, WARegistered User regular
    absolutely :D ive already got some books and a ds, but any suggestions for stuff to do on the flight from aus to america?

  • Reverend SnideReverend Snide Registered User regular
    Who are you flying with?

    Qantas, Delta and V Australia have movies, TV shows and CDs on demand- the screen in front of you does it all. They also have games, but they're fairly rudimentary- don't expect anything more complex than Tetris.

    United has movies on the main screen in the cabin.

    It doesn't hurt to have books in tow, or your DS/iGadget charged, just in case, though. :)

    Have miles, will travel | Twitter | XBL: Reverend Snide | Wii U/PSN: ReverendSnide
  • drspacemonkey2drspacemonkey2 Registered User
    tokyodove wrote:
    absolutely :D ive already got some books and a ds, but any suggestions for stuff to do on the flight from aus to america?

    If you have the cash, get a Kindle. Those things are absolute gold on a long flight. They stash easy, they're fantastic on battery life and I currently have about 400 books on mine (some were even purchased. ahem). If you're looking to stay awake during a long flight, then a Kindle and/or 3-4 books you know you can read in an entire sitting are good, the DS is also a good call. Depending on what airline you're on, the in-flight entertainment system might have plenty of stuff to keep you occupied. Royal Dutch, Quantas and Delta are all great for this - dunno about anyone else. General rule about laptops, though - don't count on them. They're a pain in the ass to unpack and set up (assuming you're flying coach), the battery will be drained completely before you land, and they're very awkward to use on those little folding trays.

    The key is small -- ideally, something that can fit in your pocket -- and good battery life. USB battery packs (such as these) can increase your playtime, but keep in mind that's more money and more carryon stuff to keep track of.

    Other than that, I'd actually recommend trying to sleep on your flight. Any sleep you get will be better than no sleep, and the last thing you want is to get jetlagged to shit on the first day of PAX. If you can swing it, try to adjust your sleep schedule as much as possible before you leave. Assuming that's not possible, trying to sleep on the flight could make the difference between being alert and enjoying your day at PAX and sleeping the day away in the handheld lounge.

  • tokyodovetokyodove Perth, WARegistered User regular
    good stuff ill look into maybe getting a kindle they look pretty cool.

    i work night shifts, so my sleeping pattern is already out of wack, maybe a 14 hour flight will cancel it out :P

  • SerenitySerenity Registered User regular
    Awsome guide! Just a question about using 3g on your cell phone though... I was looking on AT&T's website and it looks as though they do offer a $50 pay as you go plan for unlimited voice, text, and data... Is this wrong?
    http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/cell-phone-plans/pyg-cell-phone-plans.jsp?wtSlotClick=1-005ZH4-0-2&_requestid=86144

    Also a note on taxes for Canadians, I remember there was discussion that PAXers coming down from BC were exempt from sales tax?
    Been reading articles that say otherwise though... Can anyone confirm this?

  • hiddenllamahiddenllama Registered User
    As a native Seattle-ite, I can tell you that we are pretty easy going and helpful here. We're a pretty big port for foreign travel, so people (especially around the airport area) are very understanding. Seattle is a fantastic area and I highly recommend seeing the sights!

  • Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    Serenity wrote:
    Awsome guide! Just a question about using 3g on your cell phone though... I was looking on AT&T's website and it looks as though they do offer a $50 pay as you go plan for unlimited voice, text, and data... Is this wrong?
    http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/cell-phone-plans/pyg-cell-phone-plans.jsp?wtSlotClick=1-005ZH4-0-2&_requestid=86144

    Also a note on taxes for Canadians, I remember there was discussion that PAXers coming down from BC were exempt from sales tax?
    Been reading articles that say otherwise though... Can anyone confirm this?

    I'm pretty sure that's not true.

  • RisiaRisia Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Re: Canadian tax exempt
    My mother-in-law came to visit me recently from Alberta (I live in the Seattle area), and she was able to pay tax-exempt at a few malls here. Apparently all you have to do is tell the clerks where you're from, and you just show your Canadian ID & fill out a form with your home address. I had never heard of it before, but it worked for her in June.

    Risia on
  • SmallLadySmallLady Registered User regular
  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    Just a quick FYI for anyone coming in under the Visa Waiver Program - if you've been to the US within the previous two years, you can simply update your information under your current ESTA waiver and not have to pay the fee.

    @vgreminders - Don't miss out on timed events in gaming!
    @gamefacts - Totally and utterly true gaming facts on the regular!
  • MeltharMelthar Registered User regular
    One final point; if you are using an iPhone or other smart phone all 3G online functionality will be shut down from it. No access to the internet will be allowed across a 3G network without paying a massive premium. Sending basic SMS messages is fine but is charged at 20 cents a shot, both sending and receiving. Please bear this in mind whilst you are at PAX Prime 2011. If you must gain access to Twitter and/or Facebook, find a WiFi network and use that. Do not try to use 3G on your phone!


    The AT&T site has "prepaid data" listed, it explicitly lists smartphones as requiring a datapack, and 500MB for $25 sounds reasonable enough, has anyone had any experience with this option? (My phone's not network locked, and uses the 850Mhz band that AT&T uses)

    http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/cell-phone-plans/pyg-cell-phone-plans.jsp?_requestid=170490

  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    The easy way to get around that on an iPhone is by flicking on Airplane Mode and then turning WiFi on again. It basically turns it into a iPod Touch until you turn Airplane Mode off.

    Melthar, you might find that because of the proliferation of iPhones at the convention, ATT network coverage is shite and it's not worth going for.

    @vgreminders - Don't miss out on timed events in gaming!
    @gamefacts - Totally and utterly true gaming facts on the regular!
  • tokyodovetokyodove Perth, WARegistered User regular
    im planning on bringing my laptop with me just to facebook/skype back home, is there a recommended prepaid internet provider i should use?
    also same thing with a prepaid mobile phone, but im only making local calls/texts

  • zerzhulzerzhul Old General Registered User, Super Moderator, Moderator, SolidSaints Zerzhul mod
    tokyodove wrote:
    im planning on bringing my laptop with me just to facebook/skype back home, is there a recommended prepaid internet provider i should use?
    also same thing with a prepaid mobile phone, but im only making local calls/texts

    Your hotel may offer internet free, or at a modest price, if that helps for skyping.

  • SerenitySerenity Registered User regular
    Got a question about tipping...
    How about for Valet parking? Is there a standard for that? Is it customary to tip?

2
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