This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at www.jenniferhudsontaylor.net.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Budget Conference (Part II)

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor 



This is the second part of how to budget for a writing conference. The first post concentrated on how to choose which conferences will give you the most for your investment based on your individual writing needs. This post will concentrate on how to save money on logistics after you've determined your writing conferences.

With the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference coming in September, many people are trying to figure out a way to fit it into their budget without making their families sacrifice too much. Some are trying to determine if they can afford the ACFW Conference as well as other writing conferences.

Travel


  • Drive if possible. Even with the high costs of gas, it's still cheaper to drive than fly if a writing conference is within driving distance. I'd be willing to drive as far as 5-7 hours. Anything longer than that is a little too far.

  • Flying Options. Lots of cheap tips people give include flying to places during their nonseasons. But that option only applies to vacationers, not conference attenders who have no control over where the conference is set or when. So ignore that tip, it won't help you.

  • Flexible schedules. Other cheap tips will tell you to be flexible within in a few days of your departure and arrival date when you're booking a flight. However, unless you can stay somewhere for free, the $30-$50 you might save isn't cheaper than an extra night at a hotel. Ignore this temptation.

  • Compare PricesMake sure you compare prices from one airline to another. I've purchased flight tickets straight from the airline and I've also purchased them from online services such as http://www.expedia.com/ and I've never had a problem going through either route.

  • Nearby Airports. Sometimes it's worth driving an hour or so to a larger airport to get a better rate. To avoid paying for parking while you're gone, ask someone to drop you off and pick you up at the airport.

  • Fly Standby. Unless you need to be at the conference by a certain, be willing to fly standby to pick up some extra flying mileages. I was returning from a writing conference one time and because we were willing to fly standby on a later flight, we were given $900 worth of vouchers I could use for another writing conference to anywhere in the U.S.
  • Be watchful of fluctuating rates. Flight rates can fluctuate as often as three times in a given day. Watch the rates and monitor them before booking.

    From Airport to Hotel
  • If you know anyone that lives in the city, have them pick you up. You can offer them a reasonable fee that would still be cheaper than a taxi or a shuttle.
  • If you must hire transportation from the airport to the hotel, wait around until a few other writers show up, or ask around to see if anyone is going to the same hotel. You can probably share the expenses of the shuttle.
  • Don't rent a vehicle unless you really need one. Otherwise, you'll be paying extra charges for parking and valet parking. Most hotels where conferences are held won't give you the option to park your own car. You have to give your vehicle over to a valet and then you are expected to tip them.
  • If you are capable, pack light so you can carry your own luggage without having to hire or tip someone to cart your stuff for you. These small tips add up if you are on a tight budget.

    Registration
  • Some conferences offer various workshop sessions that are separate from meals, award banquets, editor and agent appointments, manuscript critiques, and other options. If you don't need the additional service then don't pay for it.
  • Share a hotel room with other people. A few sacrifices will bring you some lifelong friends and save you money in the long run.

    Other Saving Tips
  • Don't go out and spend huge amounts on meals that aren't covered by the conference. Find some friends that are mindful of their budgets and eat at simple places.
  • Don't order room service for anything! Use your cell phone to make a phone call. If you don't have your own Internet service do without for a few days unless the hotel provides for free service. Make sure you understand the terms of service. Will you be charged after a certain amount of time on their Internet?
  • Find a nearby Wal-mart or Target, or even a drug store and buy snacks and beverages. A short walk will be worth it. Most of us are so spoiled we won't even walk a few blocks. If you physically can't, that is one thing, but if you simply won't do it, that's another. These items anywhere else in the hotel or airport will be double the price.

    The money you choose to save is more money you will have to sow into God's kingdom or will be able to save for your family for those unexpected financial crises that arrive in everyone's lives sooner or later.

    Have a great writing conference and may God bless your faith in going and your courage.

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