Conventions are a great way to meet others who share the same passions and to connect with the rest of the nerd community. Unfortunately, cons also tend to be on the expensive side. Here are a few tips to make the cost of convention attendance a bit more manageable.
Pre-register- If you already know you are going to be attending an event, follow the convention social media for pre-registration discounts. Many cons offer cheaper tickets if you buy early. Be sure to read the refund policy if you are uncertain about your schedule. Some hotels will have special convention rates, so keep an eye out for those as well.
Bring Snacks- If the convention is located in a pricey tourist area, food costs can “eat” a significant portion of your budget. Bring healthy, energizing snacks (such as trail mix or granola bars) with you to the convention itself to avoid temptation by overpriced vendors. You can also keep food in the hotel room to avoid eating out for meals. Research the hotel beforehand to see whether the room has a microwave/refrigerator and plan accordingly.
Share with Friends- Splitting a hotel room can be a great way to decrease costs. That said, it’s not worth it (and is illegal) to pack people in like sardines. Make sure to communicate with everyone involved before the event so there is no confusion regarding payment.
Become a Panelist- Many conventions offer a partial or even full badge reimbursement in exchange for hosting a panel at their event.
Volunteering- Conventions can’t function without staff members. Check the convention website to see about volunteering benefits. Some provide badges, food, and other perks depending on how much time you commit. Alternatively, you can volunteer at a vendor or industry booth. AC Paradise often posts casting calls for cosplayer booth opportunities.
Sell at the Flea Market- This tip isn’t so much saving money as it is making money to replace what was spent at the con. An increasing number of cons are hosting flea markets and swaps for attendees to find homes for their old anime merch. Be sure to read the rules beforehand to see what is and isn’t allowed to be sold.
Carry Cash- While this may not work for everyone, I have some friends who like to limit their convention weekend to cash only so they can visually see how much money they have spent/how much budget they have remaining. This helps to prevent impulsive card purchases in the dealer’s room that can add up unexpectedly. In addition, occasionally dealers will be willing to haggle with cash on the final day of the event.
I hope you found these tips helpful! If you have any more suggestions for saving money at conventions, let me know in the comments below!
(Donuts are a tasty hotel room snack! Photo by Webyugioh)