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Monday, January 17, 2011

BEA on a Budget

Book Expo America is coming up, so I thought I'd share what I learned last year with my readers since I know so many people who are planning to go. It's only four months away and there is lots of planning yet to be done. These are just some tips to help you attend BEA without breaking the bank...

Book early. - It sounds simple and silly, but it matters. BEA is held in New York City, and it's inherently expensive to stay there. Hotels also tend to fill up fast because the expo takes play in May  when lots of other things are going. Booking early guarantees you a room and can save you as much as a few hundred dollars.

Roommates are awesome. - Sharing a room with friends cuts costs significantly. If you don't know people in real life who are going then check with fellow bloggers. Ask around on Twitter or post on your blog. Other people are probably looking for roommates too.

Coordinate flights. - Just like hotels, booking early is important; however, you still have to get from the airport to the hotel. Talk to friends or roommates in advance and coordinate flights so that you arrive at the same time as someone else. You can share a cab and cut costs.

Don't fear the diner. - Diners are a blessing in disguise. It's all fine and well to want to eat at a fancy restaurant while you're in NYC, but you can't sustain that three meals a day for nearly a week. Consider your options. Diners, pizzerias, and other holes in the wall can have amzing food for great prices. They may not have the nicest facade, their neon sign might be broken, and even the interior may not be anything super special, but if they aren't putting money into the look of the place then it must be in the food right? Looking for local diners will also stave of the instinct to cling to the familiar albeit mediocre and go to Applebees on Times Square. You're in the Big Apple people!

Don't eat at the Javits Center. - Remember all the times you’ve eaten at a sporting event, the ice capades or anything other event of the like. For the price of one meal at a convention center (anywhere and especially in NYC) you could eat 2-3 meals out in the city. Your wallet appreciates you eating elsewhere.

Carry a water bottle. - Running a convention center that is a NYC block wide will leave you parched. If you carry a water bottle you'll save yourself from paying $3 a bottle for water.

You can't put your car just anywhere in NYC. - Driving to NYC can save money, but what you save in transit can easily be eaten up in parking costs. (I drive and love it because I have control over my own travel.) There are a couple of parking options though...
  • New Jersey - If you can find a way to stow your car in Jersey then you can take the bus over courtesy of NJ Transit. Check out the site to see what cities you can get a lift from.
  • Central Parking - Counsult their website to look at long-term parking options near where you're staying. It will tell you which garages have week-long rates and which one will be cheapest. You can also print coupons.
  • Hotel Partnerships - Many hotels in the city partner with parking decks nearby then offer a rate cheaper than what the deck/lot would normally offer. Call around if you've got a few hotel options and see what they offer in terms of parking.
Think about transit. - In NYC there is no shortage of transit options. The two you'll likely use the most are taxis and the subway. Cabs usually aren't prohibitively expensive, but some trips are more expensive than others and fares can rack up fast. The beauty of the subway is that you can buy a week pass for $28. You just swipe and go.

The contingency fund. - Have one. Save a little spending money, but put away more than you expect to actually spend. Unforseen expenses can come up at any time and you don't want to be caught without the cash.

Last year I probably spent about $600-$700 at BEA between the hotel, travel and food. This year, thanks to a lot of planning, I think I'll wind up spending $300-$400. I think that's pretty good, don't you?


  1. Great post! I agree with it all - I think the biggest money saver will be roommates, since if you book a hotel room for just yourself you will be spending over $1000 (eeek)

  2. Susan this is such a great post. I agree with you on what you said about booking early with hotels.

    Also staying at a hotel that offers breakfast is helpful too since you will be able to grab some extra fruit to take with you. I did this and it helped when needing a snack.

    Also another piece of advice check the BEA site because you might be able to get a discount on travel. They offered 10% if you booked on Amtrak.

    Have fun at BEA.

  3. Fantastic post! Thank you so much!!

  4. Oh BEA I wish I was going but looks like this years trip is going to be an Anime Convention.

  5. Wow, you really are saving a lot. I really want to go to BEA again this year, but honestly, it doesn't look like it's going to happen...which is a bummer. :(


  6. I'm hoping to know soon if I can make it. Great post! It helps.

  7. Don't forget comfy shoes for the center since you're going to be on your feet. Carry snacks like granola bars for when you can't get somewhere to eat readily, and bodega's also have some good cheap food (plus some fresh veggies and fruits).

    Wish I was going. Looks like huge fun.

  8. Thanks for an idea, you sparked at thought from a angle I hadn’t given thoguht to yet. Now lets see if I can do something with it.

  9. What a great resource!