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Convention Survival Guide: 5 Ways to Save Money on Food at a Con

Convention Survival Guide: 5 Ways to Save Money on Food at a Con

For the few hours at a con, you’re running on adrenaline and symbiotic geek energy. But those don’t have any calories, so eventually, you’ll have to eat! The problem is convention food can be expensive. How do you avoid breaking the bank just to get some grub? Here are five quick money-saving tips.

1. Set a meal budget.

When setting your budget for the con, don’t forget food. How much you set aside will depend on how many people in your party, of course. If it’s just you, you can bring a smaller amount: about $50-75 for the weekend. If you’re going in a group or as a family (like we do), you might need about that much per person.

Assuming your hotel serves free breakfast, you’ll want enough money for:

  • Lunch and dinner Friday and Saturday (and possibly Thursday)
  • Lunch and possibly dinner on Sunday, depending on how far you have to travel to get back home

If breakfast isn’t included with your stay, you’ll have to factor that in, too.

2. Don’t buy food at the con.

When we say food is expensive at a con, we literally mean at the con. Hotels, convention centers, and food trucks jack up their prices because they know they can make bank off of tourists and congoers looking for something quick and convenient. At one con we attended, a well-known pizza chain was selling 6-inch pizzas for $9 each. That’s twice what they cost at their restaurants!

You’re better off leaving the con and eating somewhere nearby. You researched the city beforehand, right? That was tip #5 in our first post: “6 Tips to Help You Prepare for a Con“. Check it out for more!

3. Bring your own food and snacks to the con.

What if those restaurants are expensive, too, or there’s nothing you like? Or what if you want to stay at the con so you don’t get lost and risk missing a panel? Well, why not pack your own lunch? Make a PB&J before you go, or make yourself a little bento box.

Don’t forget to bring snacks, too! Time flies at a con, and you’ll be hungry again before you know it. (Psst, our Convention Survival Kit comes with three KIND Energy bars.)

Convention Survival Kit (KIND Energy Bars, Drawstring Bag, and More)

4. Book a hotel room with a microwave and a refrigerator.

Food saved equals less food to buy, so try to get a room with a microwave and refrigerator to stretch your meals.

Some fancy hotels don’t offer them, though. Instead, they have on-site cafés, but the prices are often just as high as at the con — maybe higher. If you thought $9 for a 6-inch pizza was bad, how about $12? Another true story and a lesson learned.

5. Don’t skip meals.

The worst way to save money on food? Don’t eat. We know you’ve got panels to attend and actors to meet, but trust us — you’ll enjoy the con a lot more with a full stomach. Also, the hungrier you are, the more tempted you’ll be to grab an overpriced bag of chips in the dealer’s room. So, make sure you get your three squares a day.

That’s it for today! Tune in next time for more convention planning and packing tips!

March 2023