SDCC 2012: Rooms, Costs and You!

While we all know that rooms were chosen months ago and we had our arrangements solidified shortly after, real life sometimes comes into the picture.  Schedules become tweaked at work, your boss sucks at his job, family emergencies arise, etc.  Of course, that’s always more important than a convention – you need to work to keep going to conventions, right?  -;)

Other times it’s just a huge ball dropped on you shortly before the event is actually here.  You think everything planned and ready to go, you have your money budgeted and your vacation time requested and your travel arrangements all set.  That sweet, sweet Comic-Con is quickly approaching —

— but someone bails out of your room less than two weeks out.

Crap, what do you do?  Well, unfortunately, everyone else in the room is set to absorb the financial burden.  You have to figure out how to save up more money in a ridiculously short period of time, ultimately realizing you might not be able to buy that limited-edition figurine or have an extra night out like you originally intended.  But, the people left in your room have to do the same in order to figure it out.  The person holding the room already fronted 2 nights’ worth of money (we all remember that, don’t we? oi!) so really, they get the worst end of it by having to tell everyone else the new numbers.

If at all possible, it becomes time to re-evaluate what you can and can’t save money on.  So!  Some helpful tips to try and cut costs at the last minute – mostly through food, since it is an oft-forgotten but necessary expense:

Breakfast
We all know us nerds need to get our food on in the morning so we can go non-stop, right?  Usually we’d head to the closest fast food joint or even to the restaurants in our hotel (mmm, Starbucks) for our AM fix.  This is a great way to start the day by saving money.

– Most hotels will have coffee available in the room, so get your caffeine on before you even head out the door!  Coffee is also good to suppress your appetite.
– Pack accordingly!  Bring granola bars, protein bars, trail mix, nuts, cereal in a baggie, etc.  Whatever you need to do to keep that hunger at bay and not starve yourself just for that awesome limited-edition Comic-Con figurine.  =)
– The average breakfast at a Starbucks (i.e., grande coffee and a bagel) will probably be $6-$10 a day because you are in a well-populated city and you are staying in a tourist area.  That’s how much you could spend for your entire breakfast budget — for two people! — with just a bit of simple pre-planning.

Lunch
Here comes the tricky part — you’ve left your room, your snacks are low, and you’ve got a massive hunger building while you wait for your Walking Dead panel.  What to do?!

– Before you even think about going to that convention floor from your room you best be toting your water, extra snacks, and some cash.
– Plan your food around your day.  If you’re going to be sitting in line for a panel for a good 4-6 hours, then bring breakfast, two snacks, and lunch.  This is where it becomes essential to BYOF – bring your own food!  Pack some pistachios, a banana, beef jerky and a bottled water.  Right there is a great combo of protein, healthy fats, potassium and hydration to get you through the day.
– Beef jerky, beef jerky, beef jerky.  This is a great way to get lots of protein and carry it around without worrying that it will spoil.  Nuts are great too if you are vegetarian/vegan – pistachios, almonds, walnuts, etc.  Just make sure to keep that water bottle handy and full!  There are drinking fountains along the parameter of the convention floor.  (Protip: Melt some ice in your ice bucket the night before and fill your bottled water with that!)
– When all else fails, hit the cafeteria.  The prices are slightly inflated, yes, BUT stick with protein-licious things like hot dogs and burgers.  You’ve got water and you’ve got snacks, so you only need to order the protein part. =)

Dinner
Ah, the evening.  You’ve bought your collectibles, squealed over spotting Nathan Fillion, and sat your happy butt through that panel you’d waited hours for.  Once again, you’re hungry!  But after the day you just had, anyone would be.

– DO NOT ORDER ROOM SERVICE.  This is the most expensive thing EVER to do at ANY convention.  Muster up your energy to at least walk somewhere if there is nothing in your room.  Besides, I bet it will be at least an hour to get your food because all the other people are doing it.  =P
– Explore your hotel lobby.  Sometimes they have special areas set up for con-goers that offer cheaper meals than at any of the restaurants.
– Explore downtown!  There are a LOT of places that offer discounts for your Comic-Con badge, so keep that sucker around your neck!
– See what mobile food trucks are in the area for Comic-Con!  These are reasonably priced and offer great, freshly made food.  You can find these on Twitter or doing a quick search on Google.  Or here’s some links to help you out!

Who knows — you could find something new for a decent price!  Plus there’s always great personalities around food trucks.  Make some friends and have great food.  =)

Other Helpful Tips…
– See if that limited-edition figurine or comic you want will be sold after the convention.  Toys R Us sells SDCC exclusives afterwards – you just may have to wait a couple of weeks or so to get it.
– Try to bargain with people at smaller tables for something you really want.  This is probably most effective on Sundays when people want less to pack up and bring back.
– Surf eBay post-con!  You’d be surprised what you’ll find from the convention — and have the funds by then to purchase every want and desire.
– FREE STUFF!  I got SO MUCH stuff last year that buying ANYTHING was next to pointless.  They have so many great giveaways (hello Thudercats sword, Jake keychains, Syfy portable stereo, Transformers figurines,  Hunger Games poster, etc. etc. etc.) that you’d be hard pressed to walk away from SDCC with absolutely nothing.
– If all else fails, at least take a picture.  Hell, stand next to the item you want and take a pic with it.  You may not have bought it, but at least you have the memory of it forever.  =)  Who knows — maybe one day later down the road you’ll find that picture again and say, “Oh man, why did I ever want that?”

If you absolutely want to splurge, go for it!  You can always make reservations at a restaurant if you want your nice night out – just take into account dress code.  If you really want that figurine, just make sure your basic costs are always covered first.  These are just some last-minute ways to save your dough for emergencies or for fun.  Just think back on those memories you do spend money on and make sure it was totally worth it.

Cheers,

Damsel Chan

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