Money is always a touchy subject. Some have more. Some have less.
What is fact, however, is that money is needed when planning to go anywhere…especially conventions. Cons can be as cheap as you make them or as expensive as you would like them to be.
There are lots of ways to budget for conventions, but the best thing to note while planning is how much you are able to spend. This can be a base cost (I.e. you are able to spend $300) or a combination of costs by adding up what the costs may be (I.e. gas+hotel+food+misc=X amount of money).
Here are a few tips when it comes to planning for conventions:
1.) First, how will you travel to the convention. If by car, whose car? How much gas does it take to fill up the tank? How far is the convention from where you will start traveling? What would be the total cost of gas for the entire trip.
As I normally take my car, I know how much gas it takes to fill it up ($30). I also know that approximately five hours of travel will deplete my tank. I can come up with a rough estimate of how much it will take to travel to a con – gas wise – based on hours/mileage to said con.
If you are traveling another way – bus, train, airplane or other – then you should plan accordingly by seeing how much it will take for a round trip. Also, if needed, how much transportation from the station to the hotel will cost you.
I think travel (and hotel) are key expenses in traveling for conventions. You need to get there and you need to get home. There should not be any fudging on the cost it will take.
2.) Hotel costs are probably just as important as travel – if not more. Please please PLEASE do NOT sleep in the lobby or hallways of hotels, con centers, or in your car. Also, do not think you will stay awake for over 72 hours at a convention. Not having a proper place to stay during a convention weekend is absurd.
Booking a hotel at the con rate is a good way to ensure you have a room at a decent enough price. If the convention’s hotel or main hotel is booked, they may list overflow hotels on their website. Do not be alarmed if these are all booked. Using sites such as Hotels.com and also Maquest (to find out distances between hotels and such), you may even be able to find a cheaper hotel near the convention that you are able to book.
Make note of the price per night of the hotel. If you intend to have several people stay with you, divide up the costs EQUALLY and whoever booked the room will deal with actually paying the hotel. It is NOT FAIR to charge some people more then others within a room. We’re all at a convention trying to budget every penny. If a person does this, they are basically dishonest and I would not room with them.
If you have more then the allotted number in the room, make sure everyone can sleep comfortably. Do not try and stuff twelve people in a room that was only meant for four.
I think being the “main” person in the hotel room – the one that reserved it and whose name is on the room – is a tough job to have. That person should also be tough, especially if they are on a budget.
3.) Food. You need it. Don’t try to go without it to cut costs. Food can be cheap or expensive depending on your budget. NOT eating is NOT good. Make sure you find food throughout the weekend. Before going to a convention, see what your options are. What restaurants are in the area? Are they walking distance from the con? How much will food generally cost?
Sometimes, conventions are the worse places for food. There may not be many places around at all or food may be ridiculously overpriced. Be prepared for that.
Also, bringing some snacks and such for your hotel room is a good idea. Ordering pizza and splitting the cost can also work out for everyone’s benefit.
Conventions may be the only time I get to see my friends the entire year. Setting money aside for a sit down meal one of the nights is something that I like to budget for.
4.) Parking fees. Oh cities, I hate you. I live in a rural area and we hardly EVER have to pay for parking. Most conventions I attend, however, have parking fees. I made the mistake of not budgeting for these fees on a trip to Atlanta for Momocon. Now, I know that I need to put money aside for parking whenever I attend a convention that is in a city. Researching online can help you figure out how much parking may be for wherever the convention is held. It is best to have a hotel right by the convention so your car can stay there the entire time without being moved. The more you move your car, the more you will probably have to pay in parking fees.
5.) Badge cost. The sooner you get your badge, the cheaper it will be. Pre registering for conventions can save quite a bit of money.
I really dislike when someone does not buy a badge just because they can get away with not having one. It is so dishonest. OR when people share badges. Don’t ask me cause I’m not loaning you mine.
6.) Miscellaneous fees. This can be a very small sum (I have had this be at $0 before!) or it can be large (the most I have had was $500). This is all those extra costs that you really do not need…but want. Like the dealer’s room or artists alley. You don’t NEED to spend money in those places at a con, but you may WANT too. I know we all WANT too. I have gotten by without spending any money at all or spending too much money. It all depends on the person. However, stick to your budget. I’ll be writing a handy dandy dealer’s room guide soon and it’s best if you STICK TO YOUR BUDGET when in there. It can be hard…but you want to be able to afford your way home, right.
I think this covers most expenses at conventions! I’m all about budgeting =)