Tabz’ Guide to Convention Going (or how to avoid looking like a scruffy nerfheader) Part 2: Money


Conventions. The mecca of geekdom. Attending conventions is something I’ve done for awhile now and I’ve seen all sorts of “guides” to going to conventions. Many of them are full of practical tips like shower often, eat, sleep. The basic survival guide to attending. Very rarely though have I seen a guide for not being that fan. The one that makes everyone else cringe or at the very least be extremely awkward. Since I’ve attended and worked at conventions here’s my recommendations for avoid the cringe worthy moments. If you missed Part 1: Celebs it’s here.


Let’s be honest. Conventions are fairly expensive. Even the most trust-fund kid can find themselves in a quandary about spending money at convention. Here’s some tips to help keep an eye on your funds without being THAT fan.

1. Make a plan. No matter what your budget, make sure you have a game plan in place for expenses. Include food, travel (if you stay out too late and need to get a taxi back to your hotel), and drinks. Give yourself a budget for other things like autographs, photos, extra panels (like the NerdHerd ones), W00tstock tickets, etc. Also, make sure you have a bit of emergency money (who knows what will happen).

2. Don’t be afraid to go a bit out of the way. Food close to or in the convention center is going to be more expensive than food a bit farther out. If you can pack extra snacks (non-crushable kind is best) to give you energy boosts while in line or stuck in the convention center (my favorites are trail mixes, breakfast bars, etc). Bring a water bottle and fill up where you can (filtered water bottles can also be a lifesaver).

3. Think through your purchases. Namely, do you want to lug that thing around the rest of the day and how are you going to get it home? A lot of convention centers now have places to mail home any goods you have, but it’s going to cost you a couple dollars. Another great tip if you’re really on a budget is to stick to purchases that you can’t buy online or at home (i.e. ComicCon exclusives or personalized autographs vs. a toy that you can pick up at Target). You can go through the whole convention without buying anything if you wish! It’s hard because there’s sellers everywhere, but it’s possible.

4. Be kind with your money. This is more of a feel good kind of thing (if you didn’t get it from my last post, I believe in being good), but try and be nice with your money. Drop some money in a charity jar (there’s bound to be a couple), buy a drink for a friend, buy an item at a charity auction. This also go for TIPPING. l Tip the people who clean your room or the shuttle from the airport.

5. Don’t expect anything. There’s always a couple people at conventions who seem to believe that their friends should buy them things. It’s kind of depressing and brings everyone down. If someone buys you lunch or dinner, be grateful. If they don’t, don’t pitch a fit. Geeks are kind as a general rule, but no one likes feeding a vampire (unless it’s an actual vampire…).

6. Bring cash. While there is a lot more booths and retailers able to take paypal or swipe cards on Square most conventions are internet drag points because of the sheer amount of geeks there. This is a rule that I often forget and then feel super embarrassed because I wanted an autograph and now can’t pay for it when I get to the front of the line.  Cash is king.

7. Don’t flash your cash. Sadly, conventions are still good places for opportunistic pick pockets and thieves. Keep your cash in several places if you can (I do a pocket, my bag, my wallet, etc.). That way no one marks you as a good target. Plus, if you’re absent minded like I am even if you misplace some of your money – you won’t misplace it all.

8. Communicate with your friends/significant other/companions. If you are on a strict budget, let your traveling companions know so they can be sensitive to your needs. It’s a bit embarrassing, but it can keep you out of trouble later on down the road. If you’re married or share money with a significant other talk about what you’d like to do money wise (may keep you from arguments later on).

9. Don’t be a miser. For a lot of people conventions are their vacation, it’s okay to splurge a bit. I especially recommend spending money on events (rather than items). Those memories last longer and often are a lot more worthwhile.

10. Don’t go into debt. That’s just a general rule for someone like me. Debt isn’t fun and no item is worth the stress and worry down the road. Most of the fun of a convention is being there so after basic food, lodging and attendance – everything else is optional. This also includes paying folks if you’re sharing a room or splitting a lunch bill – pay them quickly and promptly. Saves a lot of bad feelings later.




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