Convention Survival Guide: Where to Stay
Just like transportation, your options are broken into public and private: crash on someone’s couch, or get a room at a hotel. Unlike public transportation, there’s no guarantee that one will be more comfortable than the other. How much space you get is determined by how many people you’re sharing the room with, and both options have their share of limitations on showering, food access, and other little details. The main things you need to consider is which option you can afford, and which provides you the space you need.
Getting a hotel room is never cheap but does guarantee access to beds and relative cleanliness. Even if you’re sharing the room with a ton of people, it may be possible to negotiate rotating sleeping arrangements on different nights or nab a few rollaway beds. Keep in mind, though, that some hotels have a problem with putting too many people in one room because it creates a fire hazard and some may charge extra fees if you're caught, so be careful when you choose. Unless you book through the convention website, many hotels may raise prices during major conventions so you’ll either be shelling out a lot of money or sharing a room with a lot of people. If you book a hotel room through the convention you’re attending, you’ll often be given discounted rates. A lot of people are aware of this and space is very limited, so if you want in on the action you’ll need to register early. Keep in mind that even a hotel near a convention as small as FanimeCon can cost you eighty dollars with four people splitting the bill for two nights. Again, the benefit is relative security and freedom. As long as you pay, no one can kick you out unless you misbehave giving you a nice, tidy area to relax in. Even if you’re crammed in a room like a sardine, you won’t have to worry about picky friends dictating what you can and cannot do. Your roomies might have different, potentially annoying requirements, but they can’t claim to own more of the room than you. If you really need to feel comfortable and secure in a room to call your own, even if you only own a fraction of it, a hotel may be the way to go.
If you’re couch surfing for a convention, hopefully you know the person you’re staying with. The benefit of this is that you can avoid the cost of a hotel and, potentially, cramped quarters. Do keep in mind however that the less you know the friend, the more unknowns there will be. They can easily limit your access to things like the shower or the fridge, so make sure you set some ground rules and know what you’re getting into before you decide on this option. Some people do manage to find strangers willing to lend a room or a sleeping space, but this is a potentially dangerous situation. There are definitely many positive stories about this setup, but stay smart and do your best to get a feel for the individual before committing to something.
Technically there is a third public option, but there’s no guarantee that it’ll be always be cheaper than a hotel. That option is staying in a hostel. They are designed to be a cheap place to stay for traveling youth, so even though you’ll most likely be cramming into a room with nine other people, you’ll have your own mattress and, sometimes, a free breakfast. This is for folks with a bit of a taste for the unknown and might enjoy the relative security and comfort of a hotel. If your only concern is the price, make sure to do your research. Again, hostels are more public, but if you can find one that seriously undercuts the nearby hotels, it’s probably worth a shot.
As mentioned in the ‘How You’re Getting There’ guide, people on the internet are always willing to go the communal route. While this might be a great way to find some temporary roomies to shoulder the burden of the cost, never blindly agree to an arrangement. The main concern is safety, and the best way to stay safe is to get to know who you’re staying with well before convention time comes. You don’t have to go looking for a new BFF, but simple conversations will help you get a better read on the individual. Aside from safety, you’ll need to identify your requirements and make them clear. If you have allergies, require a certain amount of personal space, or have any number of potential personal concerns, let the other person know so you can both work something out. Don’t get abrasive, but if you, for example, absolutely cannot stand any noise past ten at night, you need to negotiate this with your potential roomies. Lastly, set in stone who is going to be paying what for the hotel room and how. Make sure you know how you’re both going to be paying and when. The last thing you want, besides a violent or annoying roommate, is having someone you’ve spent three days with skip out on their share of the bill.
A final word of caution: I strongly recommend not trying to stay inside of a convention for twenty-four hours. Only a few cons are always open, like FanimeCon, and even though it might seem like there’s space everywhere, you’ll never be able to stay in one place long enough to catch eight solid hours of sleep. Hotel lobbies and screening rooms are always monitored for loiterers, and if you try to catch some Z’s in the back, they will ask you to leave. You might get lucky and find an unused room, but the cons of this plan more than outweigh the potential benefit.
Be sure to check out the other parts of our guide including:
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