I don’t have kids, animals or even plants. I do have community and creativity, plus a strong desire to travel + visit more people, places, and you betcha on plates!
Here is a reveal about how I afforded attendance at SOTA14, the most recent astrology conference. Hint: spending time over money/cash
I bused from NYC to Buffalo, NY on Greyhound for $44.50 to enjoy the city for a good 48 hours prior to the event… it was so damp, hang on you cold I barely did that, save for eats.
Then I took a local transit bus from a great Buffalo restaurant, with vegan options of course, on a day pass for $5+2, to right in front of Sheraton at the Falls, the conference site+hotel.
(I spent another $7 total on the bus Thursday, because I mistakenly thought I transfer between the first two buses en route to lunch for $2. And then spend another $2 going from lunch to the conference hotel, which would’ve been $4 vs $5. Chalk it up to my lack of thorough research. It’s only $3 and the world keeps on spinning.)
Returning back to NYC, I rode Amtrak coach for $62. Ah, and I split a taxi 3-ways from the hotel costing me $6.
Hmmm, it did cost me $5 on the MTA to go to Greyhound from my apartment in NYC; and from Penn Station back home.
Observations: (1) Reserving Megabus earlier on likely would’ve been a reduced price by at least a few bucks. Possibly the same with Greyhound too. Wasn’t sure where I was traveling from until barely three weeks beforehand. (Originally was going to be flying from Dallas to Buffalo!) (2) I would’ve preferred to fly back, stay a couple hours more to enjoy the Closing Ceremony & Prize Draw plus the last speaker/s, still getting home closer to sundown vs. midnight. Key with this is finding a more frugal, though fast, way to get from the hotel to the airport. It’s a $45+ taxi ride going solo! Planning and sharing a taxi seems key in that. JetBlue can certainly be near the $62 one-way train ride especially if purchased weeks/months in advance.
Part of how I attend so many conferences is by reducing this cost, usually (a) volunteering as a producing team or staff member earning free room nights OR (b) sharing a room – and its costs – with one or more, particular the AYA suites hosted at ISAR, NCGR and UAC conferences.
CONFERENCE REGISTRATION $0
Typically, I’m volunteering in some sizable capacity so my registration is free. When my dance card is full OR no spots are available for volunteering, I then aim for buying earlybird registration (packages). So I’m looking up the GLAC15 and NORWAC15 earlybird deal dates NOW… OK, former is December 31st, latter is February 6 (my birthday!)
So I try to keep this more on the healthy side than anything. If I can bop to a great place for vegan eats during the conference, GREAT. I don’t expect it though. Still, a man’s gotta eat. And hotel rooms are quite tricky without a stove(top), and most often no fridge. So my go to for breakfast is packets of oatmeal, heating water through a coffeemaker – found in nearly any hotel room these days. For midafternoon (and late evening) snacks, a raw vegan bar can be great. Of course, all this travels well, and small. I used to do green juices for lunch before it was revealed they aren’t vegan and are otherwise compromised. Ordering for Chinese, Thai or Asian food delivery can be great for hot, cooked veggies – important as many astrology conference sites are far from a bounty of eatery options.
This time around, I actually found my favorite vegan yogurts on sale ($5 for 5) at Lexington Avenue Co-Op, thanks to XX. And often out small simple things on ice in the hotel bathroom sink. (This time seems liked I had to put in more ice 4,5 daily vs. 3 times. Maybe keeping the bathroom door closed and that room cooler would’ve helped?) Along with that I bought bulk muesli. And four Larabars and vegan (Halloween) gummy snacks – all for $18.
Thursday’s lunch, vegan Burmese at Sun Restaurant, (in Buffalo) was so massive; I had plenty leftover for dinner. (Let’s say the rolls’ cost was Thursday dinner at $18, roughly including tax and tip.)
Part of what I put on ice otherwise was intended to be lunches. That was (1) some version of a calzone from Pizza Plant, (2) a slice of stuffed garden pizza made vegan from PP, and (3) another pair of slices. The first two got waterlogged and tossed. (Too bad because I barely had any of the ‘pod’ aka calzone thingie.) Also this raised the question of what I was going to do for lunch and was a good $10-15 NOT down the drain; I could’ve avoided this problem hugely by opening the drain a bit for melting ice. Live and learn!
Instead, I joined friends Friday and Saturday for fries and lemonade at TGIF‘s within the hotel building. Fries were great, housemade lemonade looked better than it was. I forgot about my $5 voucher being usable there Friday and paid $10 cash. On Saturday, I was ready and used it for half off the bill; the rest going to my room’s tab. BUT my tab was messed up two-fold come check out, so the studly hotel desk dude zeroed out all the charges. Free lunch achieved!
So the PP food (half pizza and ‘pod’) for conference was approximately $30 including tax and fees.
The only other food I paid for was for Friday dinner at Koi over on the back of Seneca Casino. Believe that was $12 bucks.
OVERALL it appears I spent $196 actual dollars on this weekend. Volunteering-wise, I’m guessing a good 50 hours over the course of the last 12 months, largely averaging 30 minutes a week for social media. The bulk of the work is creating the flyer and program, plus ad sales, and then updating both documents for changes. Might be more hours, though 100 hours in a year sounds like too much (average two hours a week). Hope this is helpful to others in their budgeting monies for conference attendance, as well as volunteering throughout the year otherwise.
Why do I choose this over spending the cash? It feels good to volunteer; it’s part of who I am (and was raised to be). I’m always learning more while sharing and enhancing our community (events) by way of what I can teach with my professional skills gained outside – or elsewhere – in the community.