Convention Money Survival Guide!

Posted: April 5, 2011 by Mike in Con Review


Conventions are fun! Don’t break that bank!

Sad Otaku sad? Not enough money for the stuff you want at con because the Hotel Monster ate your money? Pesky friends asking for gas money? We’ve all been there. Anyone who has ever attended a convention knows how hard it is when you try to stick to a budget. When you run into the dealer’s hall and look at all the wonderful things on sale there, you loose your wit and your bank account loses its funds.

Ah,  I know that problem well. But fear not, trusted friends of ConGear. Let Uncle Mike impart some sweet knowledge in your mind tunnel!

So you want to plan a budget, but don’t know how or what to budget for? Here’s  a great guide that’ll help you plan for your next convention.

Whats that you say? You’re con isn’t too far away? That’s great! Good for you! I’ll show you what you should save for if you’re going to a con that’s super duper close! You’re planning on going to a super far away convention? I’ll help you plan for that budget too! So sit back, relax and let your self be taken in by my sweet, sweet knowledge.

Let’s start with the conventions closer to you that you love so much. A lot of newcomers to the anime convention circuit start off in these cons.

Now, if you’re smart, you’ve contacted your employer/parent and already have your time off needed for this three to four day adventure. Next, start looking at prices for the con. You notice a registration button. Awesome! Time to sign up! If you’re lucky, you’ll notice that there is still time to pre-register for the event, which is ideal.

What’s that you say? You’ve missed pre-reg? I’m sorry, that really sucks! I’ve goofed like that before, too. The benefit for planning in advance is the receiving a cheaper ticket. But worry not, all is not lost! You’ll still go; however the price will usually jump up a few bucks. It’s not the end of the world.

For example, for Akicon (a local northwest con), pre-registration runs about $35, but “at the  door” cost goes for about $45. See? Only a $10 difference!

Okay, great! You’ve got your badge. Now where do you sleep?  You’ll want to live it up in a BIG OLD HOTEL ROOM! You should ask your friends if they need crash space. The running rate for a hotel room in the city runs for about $125 a night according to the rough average on! However, hotels charge a 12% tax just to rent from them! So, for example if you look at a hotel for around $125 a night you’re looking at about $280 for the whole weekend! That’s a lot of money! What are you going to do?

Don’t worry, because you’re friends are awesome! They are such bros that they’d help you split that room because you were great enough to offer them to crash in your comfortable hotel room! That’ll cut that cost down by A LOT, lemme tell you. If you split that bill three to four ways, you’ll be sitting high and dry for that limited edition action figure you’ve had your eye on for the past year!

Fast forward a little bit, and you’re ready for con to happen. Your packed and ready to go! Your cosplays are finished and you’ve packed your footy pajamas! Great! Now, there are several ways to get to your con, but what do you care? This con is practically in your backyard! You’re driving! WOOHOO!

Oh, yeah. What does that contraption run on? Oh, that’s right! Gas! Worry not, as bad as gas prices are, you’ll probably shell out the least amount of money here! Let’s say your con is actually in the next town over, about an hours drive away to be exact. That’s about 100 miles away. If your car gets 25 miles per gallon, you’ll need 4 gallons each way. Multiplying that by about $4 a gallon (according to MSN Gas Pricer) is $16 total for gas.

Between all the fun times you’re having at the convention, your stomach will still serve as a reminder that you’re hungry. Thankfully, you’ve already budgeted for meals.

I suggest putting aside approximately $10 per meal, even if you don’t eat at a nice sit-down restaurant. The fast food shops in the area are well aware that a convention is occurring, and those closest to the convention will often jack up the prices to make more money. Depending on how many meals you’re thinking of eating in a day, you might budget anywhere from $20-90. However, a good tip to remember is that you don’t have to eat out for every meal. Bringing snacks and extra water bottles from home and keeping them in your room will help you survive the weekend without going bankrupt.

So you’ve set aside cash for transportation, your hotel room, and food. If we go by previous examples, you’ve already set aside:

Hotel/4 ways $70.63+Badge (pre-reg) $35+Gas $16+ $50 for food = $171.63

Next, you’re going to want to have some surplus for those things you’re going to want from the dealer’s hall. How much you want to spend here is completely up to you. However, keep in mind that anime items aren’t cheap, depending on the item you want to purchase. You may want to save over anywhere from $20-$50 at the very least, in the event you find something you simply have to have.

Congratulations! You were able to budget an entire weekend without breaking the bank!

So, you’ve braved your hometown convention and you’re ready for a convention farther away. In other words, you’re ready for the big leagues.

Again, you have your hotel room to plan for. This usually doesn’t differ too much from the hotel room(s) you’ve previously budgeted for, but check with the hotel to make sure, but keep in mind: the deadly sales tax will probably apply here, too!

Next up: your badge. Depending on the size of the convention, the price for your badge may rise or fall, or even stay the same. Remember: “at-the-door” tickets for the entire weekend are more expensive than pre-reg tickets, so try to pre-register! If it’s impossible to pre-register, it’s okay. Breathe, calm down, and be ready to shell out the extra cash.

Food costs will also probably stay relatively the same. Don’t forget those snacks and drinks from home, though, to help lower the price on this item!

These Guys Ain’t Messin’ Around! Anime Expo is SRS BSNS!

Next up, it’s time to think about transportation. Are you flying this time? Maybe taking a train? There are loads of options available to you, but you’re going to want to check out the price for each mode of transportation. Let’s say you’re trying to get to a convention about 200 to 300 miles away. You’ve found that it’ll cost you $157.00 round trip by train, $153.92 for gas if you’re driving with four people splitting the price up evenly, and $219.40 if you’re a diva and you go flying (Alaska Airlines). Those are your options. You may decide to go by car because it’s the cheapest. You might decide to go by train because no one wants to drive, or you’re going it alone. Maybe you’re simply willing to shell out the extra cash for the plane ride because it’s faster and more convenient for you. Take all those factors into account and be ready to spend on them!

It might sound like a lot of money to be shelling out just to get to a convention, but for many convention-goers, it’s worth it! You can spend time with old friends, make new ones, take photos, have photos taken of you, learn about new anime/manga/games, impart your knowledge of those things, meet the people that make the stuff you enjoy so much, etc.

So good luck to you my fellow Otaku! Take the knowledge that I’ve imparted unto you and I’ll see you at con!

– Mike


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