While going to a fan convention is intended to be fun, you’re more certain to enjoy the convention of your choice to a greater capacity if you prepare early and thoroughly. With that in mind, this section will concentrate on the things you’ll need to take care of well before it’s time to pack up get on the road.
First and foremost, you have to look at financial matters. Fan conventions can get damned expensive. Between a hotel room, passes to the convention, travel, food, liquor, and costuming stuff, you’re looking at a pretty penny. Really, cons should indeed be viewed as vacations and for many seasoned Con Sluts, they really are. For folks like me and the many friends I have from all over the country who converge on Dragon*Con, for instance, it is our one guaranteed vacation for the year. Some people go to the beach. Some people go to Disney. We go to con.
Okay, since I don’t know exactly which con you’re planning to attend, I can only really give you ballpark dollar amounts on how much it costs to attend the con of your choice. The price range for different conventions is extremely wide. With that in mind, I’ll be using Dragon*Con as an example since it’s a large convention. This way, you can get idea of the higher range of costs and you can plan from there. (article continues…)
Using Dragon*Con as my template, I’d go as far to say that you’ll need to raise at least $1000-$1200 between you and your roommate(s) to swing it even somewhat comfortably. By using the term somewhat comfortably, I mean staying in a host hotel for 4 nights (including taxes and fees, excluding parking, etc.), eating at least 2 meals per day, drinking, tickets, etc. It does not include gasoline, airfare, costuming (that’s another article altogether) or any of the other extraneous stuff that will be necessary, so it’s up to you to add those parts.
It is possible to cut corners, though. Don’t get me wrong. There are a few ways to make things cheaper and I’ll discuss a few of those options later. One thing I will mention now, however, is getting as many people as possible to split costs. It’s a lot less expensive to have 6 people in a hotel room (with a couple of people crashing on the floor) than to go it alone or with one other person. It’ll also help on other costs such as food, parking and the like if you do it correctly.
But actual amounts are neither here nor there for this particular article. It’s up to you to do your own research and exercise common sense. Look at the expenses involved and plan realistically. Sure, you want to go, but if you’re not sure you’ll be able to make it, don’t waste money on tickets and plane tickets. Wait ’til you are sure. You don’t want to be out a few hundred bucks if you realize you can’t swing it. That’d hurt big time, buddy.
Look, I know this part seems elementary, but it’s important. I’ve seen a lot of people fall victim to this kind of poor planning and literally throw hundreds of dollars down the toilet. And I’m not talking about stupid people, either. I am, however, talking about people who just get really excited and anxious to get the ball rolling. All I’m saying is that you can save yourself a lot of frustration simply by keeping your head screwed on straight and having some foresight.
Even if you’re not 100% sure you can make it, there is one thing you can do right off the bat and that’s reserving a hotel room as early as possible! At major conventions, (and sometimes small ones) rooms sell out quickly so it’s in your best interest to take care of this well ahead of time. In some instances, hotels begin selling out of rooms designated for the convention as early as 8 months before the whole thing is supposed to take place. As it pertains to expenses, even though many hotel chains charge a deposit (usually about the same as the rate for one night) right off the bat or a few days before your arrival date, you will at least get that money back if you cancel. Trust me, it’s a hell of a lot easier to make a reservation that you’ll later cancel (and get your deposit back) than to try to make a reservation at the last minute when the place is sold out. Right? Right.
And no, do not wait until you get your roommate(s) situation figured out unless the one night deposit is going to break you.
Just make the damned reservation, okay?
-Scott “Scooter” McGowan