Con season is certainly upon us – and as a geek, it can be quite a challenge to choose how to navigate the choices, indulge your passions, and still have enough money left over to pay the rent and keep the lights on.
Here’s a few key ways you can feed your soul and still save money:
Plan out your schedule
There are several great resources out there for finding out about local geeky events. The Southern Fandom Resource Guide is an excellent list of events in the area.
Buy your tickets early
Many events and conventions offer lower prices when you buy your tickets far in advance. This may be because advance sales allow them to save money themselves – as well as to secure down payments and travel arrangements for venues and performing guests or speakers. For example, ticket prices for the Geek Gala go up by $5 in June so consider purchasing them now before it’s too late.
Check for discount codes
Fan groups, local businesses, and advance advertisements sometimes are provided with discount codes. Make sure to “like” the Facebook pages of your favorite events and sign up for their newsletters so that you can get the heads up when discounts are offered. For example, use code CC2019 for a special discount to ConCarolinas.
Conventions depend on warm bodies (or mostly warm) to keep things humming. Many events are happy to offer free tickets in exchange for a few hours of work. Plus, many times as a volunteer you get a chance to assist with fan tracks or areas of fandom you are already interested in.
In addition to the conventions themselves, many fan groups and vendors also seek volunteers to help at their tables – and are allotted some passes for their assistants. If you want to assist for The Charlotte Geeks at any of the events we attend, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share the costs
Sometimes the cost of traveling to a convention and staying at the host hotels can be the most expensive part of going to a hotel (next to the dealer’s room). Make plans with friends to commute together and share a hotel room. Friends not going? Most conventions have message boards or social media threads where you can find someone else who is looking for a roommate or travel companion.
Plan Your Meals
The rule of thumb for con life is “3, 2,1” – as in – plan to get at least 3 hours of sleep, 2 meals and at least 1 shower every day you are at a con. (And no, extra Axe body spray does not count as a shower, in case you were wondering.)
Buying food at a con can get expensive, but there are other options. Many hotel rooms come with an in-room microwave and mini-fridge/chiller, and there is also value in buying a small crockpot or toaster oven to bring with you. In addition, some conventions may offer a con suite where you can usually get free food and drinks. Just make sure to thank the staff as coordinating a con suite is a lot work!
Set a buying budget and weigh the value
The dealer’s room is where many budgets are broken to bits. Some fans find that if they give themselves a budget in advance, they are less likely to impulse shop. At the least, make sure to make a full circle of all artists and vendors before buying anything to make sure you choose wisely.
Afraid you will forget? Take a picture of the seller’s business card or shop name by the item you are interested in so that if you can’t afford it right then, you can buy it later. (You may want to ask permission so they know you are not trying to steal their idea.)
Another idea is to make sure to head back in the final hours of the event – some folks may make a bargain rather than having to pack things up and take them back home.
Whatever you do – we hope you find your way to some of the amazing events happening here and remember to always #supportlocal.