Attending a Conference on a Budget

By Jillian Chamberlain  •  April 28, 2014

Whether you work from home or you go to an office everyday, chances are you’re going to have to attend a conference at some point. Conferences can provide a great opportunity to learn new skills in your area of expertise, explore new topics you want to learn more about, but most importantly they provide you with an opportunity to network!

 

Not all employers offer an endless budget for these types of events and if you’re attending on your own dime you want to make sure you’re not throwing money away. I am attending the Mom 2.0 Summit this week so travel has been on my brain. Here are some tips I have for conference traveling on a budget.

 

The Early Bird Gets the Best Deals

 

As a businessperson you should take stock of all of the conferences that you wish to attend for the following calendar year. Make a note in your calendar (with a reminder alert) when tickets go on sale. Most organizations offer an early bird rate. Just by signing up early, you can save a couple hundred dollars on the conference rate. Also, when you book your early bird ticket make sure to reserve a room at the offered conference rate.  Staying at the hotel where the conference is being held also cuts down on your transportation costs. I’m staying at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead, Georgia for a nightly rate far below average for a hotel of this caliber. Yay me! However, if you miss the boat on the conference rate, be sure to use websites like Hotels.com to find the lowest rate at the closest hotels to the conference location.

 

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Your modes of transportation to and from the conference are typically the greatest expense of the entire trip, so plan ahead! If you live close enough to the destination city you could consider driving, better yet, carpool with someone else in your area who is also attending. If driving isn’t an option, be smart about when you purchase your airfare. According to CheapAir.com’s study, “the best time to buy a ticket for a non-holiday domestic travel is 49 days before departure.” The right amount of research and planning can really help alleviate the strain on your travel wallet. Don’t forget to sign up for the rewards program of the airline you’re flying with! You know you deserve a vacation, so start racking up those points!

 

The Key is Comfort

 

You’re in a new city and you ready to impress! Before you strap on your 4-inch SJP inspired heels keep something in mind. No one looks good when their feet are swelling out of their strappy shoes. Conferences usually involve a lot of walking and a lot of standing. If you’re going to commit to a pair of shoes make sure they will be your friend throughout the day and not your foe. After all, you paid a lot of money to get to this conference and you want to make the most of your time there. Save the strappy heels for the cocktail party to compliment your designer dress from Rent The Runway. During the day stick to ballet flats or a pair of Toms, comfortable can still be cute!

 

Got the Power?

So you’re about to walk out the door to go to the airport. Stop for a minute and double check: did you bring all of your power cables? I don’t know about you, but I’m a tech heavy kind of girl. MacBook, iPad, iPhone, DSLR camera….oh my! I can’t live without my gadgets and I certainly can’t afford to forget my chargers! Also, while you’re at a conference chances are your cell phone is going to be seeing way more action than it does in a normal day. All of that tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming and Pinning. Not to mention all of the phone calls and texts home to makes sure that life is going on while you’re away! That’s a lot of action for one little battery. Let me introduce you to my conference sidekick, Mophie.

 

Mophie is a cell phone case with a battery built into it. Depending on which model you purchase it can recharge your battery from 85%-115%! If you’re going to buy something new for your trip, I highly recommend buying a Mophie, which is available at all Best Buy stores and BestBuy.com.

 

Well I have a few more things to pack and then I’m off to ATL for Mom 2.0. If any of you are attending please reach out to me. I’d love to meet as many people as possible while I’m there. We can compare our comfy shoes and be the only people with a full cellphone charge at the end of the day! Happy Travels!



Jillian Chamberlain Jillian Chamberlain When not Facebooking, Tweeting & Instagraming (basically turning any social media platform into a verb), Jillian can ironically be found reading a hardcover book, using an abacus and morse code.


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