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Convention Survival Guide: 4 Tips to Save Money on Your Hotel Room

Convention Survival Guide: 4 Tips to Save Money on Your Hotel Room

You’ve picked your first convention to attend. What’s next? Finding a place to stay. This will probably be one of your biggest expenses, so you want to get it right.

Here are four tips to help you save money on your hotel room.

1. Book your hotel room ASAP.

If you read our first post “6 Tips to Help You Prepare for a Con”, this will sound familiar. After all, hotels will fill up the closer it gets to con weekend. Also, if you can’t make it to the con, it’ll be easier to cancel an early reservation. Wait too late, and you may not get your money back!

How long before the con should you book your room? We recommend at least four months, but the sooner, the better. One time, we booked ours a year in advance, since we knew we wanted to go back to that con next year!

2. Don’t stay at the host hotel.

Why not? You won’t have to buy gas as often. You can easily grab your badge if you leave it on your bed. There’s a food court downstairs. Sounds great, right?

Well, it might be. In our 10+ years of going to cons, we’ve never stayed at the host hotels. Not that we haven’t wanted to. It might be fun to try it once.

But since host hotels are usually large and fancy, they’re typically the more expensive, even with the deals conventions negotiate. Plus, being right where the action is has its downsides, too. We’ve heard horror stories about loud neighbors, fights in the hallways at night, and nasty stuff left in stairways. That can happen at any hotel, but the odds are higher when there are more people staying there.

So, we don’t recommend it, especially if you’re on your budget. If you just want the experience, go for it! You might have a blast!

3. Use a hotel booking site.

We sometimes use or to find hotel discounts. Be careful, though. You’re basically “bidding” on a room, and you may not get it even if you “win”. We’ve heard of hotels not saving rooms booked through these sites, leaving guests stranded with nowhere to go. This hasn’t happened to us (yet), but have a Plan B just in case.

If you’d rather not risk it, book on the hotel’s website. You might even get a better rate. (That has happened to us.)

4. Book a hotel further from the con.

A lot of cons are in the heart of major cities. The satellite hotels may be closer, but they may be just as expensive as the host hotels. Remember: congoers aren’t the only ones traveling during con weekend. 

So, don’t be afraid to book a hotel that’s further from the con. We’ve stayed as far as an hour away before because the rates were much cheaper. To save money on gas, pick a hotel that has a shuttle.

If you do this, don’t forget you’ll be at the con most of the day, so bring everything you need!

Bonus: Skip the hotel and stay with family instead!

If you’ve got relatives living near the con, why not crash at their place for the weekend? We’ve done this many times, and we’ve loved it! Not only did it save us a ton, but we got to catch up, share our hobbies and interests, and enjoy some home-cooked meals. Can’t beat that!

So, you’ve bought your badge (you pre-registered, right?), you’ve booked your hotel room (or called your aunt), you’ve started on your cosplay, and you know what to pack for the con. Next time, we’ll talk about how to save money on food.

March 2023