All your friends are going to an awesome comic convention this weekend two states away and you can’t–cuz, well–you’re broke. Join the crowd. Comic cons ain’t cheap and neither is getting to them or buying anything at them, for that matter.
So what’s the scoop, you ask. You said you were going to tell me how to actually afford to go.
I did. And here I break it down into 4 sections:
Until teleportation comes to fruition, you are stuck transporting your physical body from one location to another. And many times, that comes at a cost, a big one. So here are a few tips on getting to and from your next convention affordably.
- Don’t go it alone. This is sage advice no matter what the travel itinerary, but especially when you are looking to do so affordably. Chances are if you have one, two, or ideally three or more travel buddies, everyone can shoulder their share of things like 1. gas 2. car rental/maintenance 3. driving duties 4. snacks
- If you must travel alone, look for mass transit between major cities. Many times you can hop on a Mega Bus for around $9-$19.
- Gone are the days of flying standby for a crazy good deal. But if you are a college student you may still be in luck. Hop on over to this great article at the Huff Post for some resources to save you on your next flight.
Among other things, this includes a place to lay your weary head within a half hour or so of the convention.
- Just like travel, don’t go it alone. If you already have a great group of family or friends that you can put up with traveling, you can probably rely on them to split the cost at a hotel or motel. (unless of course one of them snores, then they are on their own!) $125/night doesn’t sound so bad when you are only paying a fourth of it. Get the picture?
- Don’t just rely on places like hotels.com, expand your search to include places like hotwire.com or even vrbo.com (especially great when you have groups) and airbnb.com (you’ll have to make a profile), but one room accommodations are usually easy to come by and affordable.
- When all else fails, and you don’t have a friend or distant family member to call up for some well-timed coach surfing, check in to see if their are any hostels in the area. We recommend this last one lightly. Be sure to do your research before you go. Check up the ratings online, make sure all your valuables are locked up and safe. If for some reason you have inhibitions about a particular location, listen to them, it’s called your conscience for a reason and usually that is to help you stay safe.
You gotta eat…right? Food ain’t cheap, especially these days. So what’s a guy/gal supposed to do? Depending on where you end up, especially if you are in a major urban area, the price of food might be double or triple normal price–and we don’t want you to starve yourself. So a little prep will go a long way.
- Try to hit up the super market before the first day of the convention. That way you have easy to grab snacks to curb your hunger monster. Granola bars, energy bars, protein bars, some easy to manage fruits or veggie snacks should last you through the day until you get a chance to get back to where you are staying and have a right sized feast. You can even pack yourself a lunch. Trust us, the savings will add up when you get an eyeful of what some of the food at many conventions runs.
- If you must dine out, do so with care. Nothing’s worse than being consumed by your hunger beast and lashing out at anyone and everyone only to fall for the first restaurant you pass by. This could end up being a three or four money sign establishment. What’s worse than having to eat out when you can’t afford it? Blowing your entire weekends food budget on one meal!
- Plan on dining out but don’t know what’s good or affordable? Hop over to yelp.com or zomato.com and do a quick search of your area. Often there will be hundreds of reviews on well established restaurants. Rest assured you can pick pretty confidently knowing the vast majority of people that review these websites are doing so selflessly. If a hundred people give a restaurant a five star, chances are, you will have a good experience there as well. And when they rate the affordability, it’s usually $ – affordable/budget minded, $$ – still reasonable but not quite right for the budget minded, $$$ – this is bordering on fancy-shmancy and will probably set you back a jackson or two, $$$$ – this is for the high-rollers, if you are even thinking about these restaurants, why are you reading this blog?
Getting into the con is great, but there is so many shiny things to touch and buy. I wants it, my precious.
- You just have to have a print of Harley Quinn, the latest Walking Dead comic book signed by the creative team, a Flash action figure, or a cool little emoji pillow. All that comes at a cost. But here’s the scoop. Don’t buy until an hour before close, on the last day. If you aren’t attending all days, then go for the hour before close on the day you are attending. But better if you can wait until the last day. Make sure you keep an eye on the booth or product you want and make sure they aren’t packing it in early. It’s never poor etiquette to ask for a discount. And if they say no or give you a firm price, and still have the item on the last day before close, ask again, their mood may change. They’ve either had a great show, in which they’d be happy to let someone take something home they probably can’t afford to pay it forward or they’ve had a terrible show, in which case that’s just one more item they have to repack in their moving van or box truck. Still be fair with what you can expect to pay and remember that there are a lot of expenses in exhibiting at these events, not to mention the cost of the product to begin with and the employees wages.
- Panels can be a great form of entertainment. You can see sneak peeks of new movies. Celebrities talking about their experience on set or drawing the latest batman comic, or even how to cosplay. Look at the show schedule ahead of time and make sure you give yourself enough time to travel to and from the event and secure yourself a seat. Convince a few friends to pick some out when you so you can break up the day of walking on the concrete with some R&R while you sit down and partake in a panel.
- Look for engaging booths or game tables. Many times, there will be people previewing or demoing new products or services. In those cases you can expose yourself to a brand new table top game that not many even know about. Spin a couple wheels of chances to walk away with some promotional swag. Or get a picture with some local cosplayers so you have a way to remember the event.
So, just like batman, a little prep goes a long way. Be sure to do your homework before you decide to set out for a convention. Ask your friends and family members if they want to go with you. If they say no, try them again for another show, sometimes people get busy and their schedule might be jam packed for a particular weekend. Don’t be afraid to find out if anyone else from your extended friends are attending a show. Even if you aren’t bff’s you might still be able to ride share or split rooming costs once you’re at the show. As with any advice, be sure you are safe and you know the people you are splitting with. If you don’t know them personally make sure you get a trusted parent or advisers consent. Safety first, fun second.
Hope these tips were helpful and they make your next show a little more affordable!