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Smart career tips, networking possibilities, and craft development—writing conferences can be incredibly valuable to a writer. But they can also be prohibitively expensive! If you’re on a budget, these money-saving tips will help you plan an inexpensive trip that’s big on value but small on bucks.
How To Find And Attend An Inexpensive Writing Conference On A Writer-Friendly Budget
Don’t go far from home. Writing conferences are held all over the country. Save on travel and lodging expenses by choosing conferences near you. Check out our list of writing conferences to get started!
Consider “smaller” conferences. Sometimes you can meet as many people at a one-day conference as you could at a four-day event. Also, many local writing groups host daylong meetings for networking and seminars. These shorter events cost less but pack a big punch.
Incorporate your vacation into your conference trip. Make plans to spend a few extra days exploring the local sights once your writing conference is over.
Ask yourself if the conference in question is really worth the money. These five questions can help you decide. If you determine that it is worth your money, be sure to make the most of your writing conference!
Book your flight 54 days in advance. According to a new study, airfare is generally lowest about 54 days before takeoff.
Don’t be afraid of layovers. Think of airport time as undisturbed reading time. We say: Break out the e-reader and let the layovers begin!
Register early. Most writing conferences offer discounts for early registrants. Avoid higher rates and save money by planning in advance.
Get the hotel’s special conference rate for your room. Most conferences negotiate special rates for attendees. Book your room early so you don’t miss out!
Be aware of cancellation policies. Many conferences have penalties for people who cancel in advance. Some hotels might too. Before you book, know what you’re getting into.
Get a roommate. Many writing contest organizers are happy to help connect people who want to room together. If you don’t hear anything about boards and forums for finding a roommate, ask.
Consider staying offsite. Sometimes, the hotel next door to the official conference hotel is cheaper. Just be sure you’re close enough that you won’t miss the evening’s unofficial but important networking opportunities (which usually happen in the vicinity of the hotel bar).
Deal with medical issues before you leave. Finding doctors and emergency medications can be more expensive when you don’t have a plan. Remember to pack all your pills, and save yourself a lot of time and trouble!
Avoid the gift shop. Hotels are notorious for charging excessive amounts of money for ordinary items. So make your list, check it twice, and avoid the up-charge.
Pack food. You’ll probably need to splurge on a few meals when you’re schmoozing with other writers, agents, and editors. But plan to eat some meals on your own if you’re on a budget. Pack energy bars, instant breakfasts, mixed nuts, dried fruit, and other high calorie, complete meals. Read more about brain food for writers.
Find a grocery store. If you can’t fit food in your suitcases, shop at a local grocery store instead of the pricey gift shop.
Use credit card miles. If you can, pay for airfare, hotel costs, and rentals cars with saved credit card points.
Travel light. If you’ve been to a writing conference, you’ve probably met that one person who managed to get an entire weekend’s worth of clothes in a small carry-on. It is possible to look great and pack light, but you’ll have to be smart about it. Avoid airlines’ add-on fees by traveling light.
Skip the rental car. Many hotels charge parking fees. Add that onto your daily rental rate, and you’re looking at a lot of money for a car that you probably won’t drive much at all (conferences tend to be booked solid with activities from morning to night). If you need to make a trip, we recommend that you…
Make some friends and share a cab. Everyone at a writing conference is there to network and meet other people. So don’t be afraid to ask near-strangers if they want to share a cab to dinner, or the drugstore, or to a local tourist spot. Once the news gets around that you’re making a trip off the hotel grounds, you might find yourself with quite a crowd willing to split the cost of travel.
Write it off, if possible. If you’re writing to make a profit and you can prove that writing is more than a hobby, talk with an accountant about writing off your conference expenses.
Photo by kenteegardin