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Traveling Out of State

(Disclaimer: This article is missing some information and will be revisited in the future)

Greetings fellow con goers. This week, let’s take a trip out of state.

Whether you live in a larger area that has an abundance of conventions that come along or a smaller area that doesn’t have too many conventions that are larger, there are just some times where you want to get check out a new environment or go to one of the more well known cons like Otakon or Anime Expo (just to name a few.) This means, time for a road trip (Or Air depending on your means of transportation)! But the question that you should be asking now is how to go about preparing to go out of town.

Before getting on the road, you of course need a destination. As I’ve said in earlier articles, its best to plan ahead if you know you want to go to the con. Buy your badge early to avoid a possible long line the day of and of course to get the lower price. Also, reserve your hotel room before it runs out, and try to get some people to come with you. Since it’s an out of state con, you might not know many people that are going. Going on your own would cost more because you’d probably have to buy your own hotel room. So in this case, try to get other s to go (and if you do know other people in the area, try to room with them). If not…then what I would suggest is using the forums for said con to find roommates. Once again, be careful and know what you’re getting into. Try to be with roommates that are similar to your con style.

Now that you’ve got the con picked out…how are you going to get there?

There are a few ways you can do this: Megabus, Amtrak, Airplane, and by car. First up:

Megabus

Megabus is a service that offers bus transportation from many major cities throughout the US.

Pros:
If you buy early you can get it for a very low price (One reader got a round trip ticket for $10)
You don’t have to drive
Pretty smooth ride
By early and get a dirt cheap

Cons:
Only one carry on item and one under the bus
No large props
only seem to travel by region, so you might have to travel on transfer to multiple buses in one trip
quite possible that you’ll have to find another means of transportation to the con site.

Overall, I feel that Megabus would best be suited for travel to cons in your region.  While its convenient enough to be able to get to a place within a few hours and not having to drive, since you’ll possibly have to transfer to another bus (which would cost more money PLUS having to make sure the times line up between buses). Plus, you can have large props and only one baggage under the bus; it might limit what you can take.

Airplane

Pros:
Travel almost anywhere in the world
Fast
various options to travel with
can have multiple items packed.
Still safe to travel (http://travel.cnn.com/2012-safest-year-air-travel-1945-640001)

Cons:
Can be very expensive if you don’t book early
One carry on
can’t pack large props…and weapons are pretty much a bad idea.
Security can be a pain.

Flying can be really fast and a good way to get to places you can get to on the road (even overseas), but it is very pricey if you don’t book early. Also, having to go through security can be a pain requiring you to be there early to make sure you get checked in on time. So, if you have the money, this would be a very fast way to get where you need to be…but if you plan on bringing a costume with a large prop, be prepared to find another way to get it there since you can’t check in large props.

Amtrak

Amtrak is a train and bus service that runs throughout the United States and Canada.

Pros:
Travel to many places throughout the United States and Canada
Fewer luggage restrictions
Cheaper than air travel if planned ahead of time.
Some trains offer sleeping options for overnight traveling as well as food.

Cons:
Delays are not uncommon
Scheduling can be a bit tricky
Food options might only be available for First Class
Some routes require you to

Amtrak seems to be a popular option for a few con travelers with its smooth ride, cheaper than flight options. That being said, these trips can still be long depending on where you go (The trip from Chicago to California can take about 45 hours) which obviously isn’t as fast as air travel.

And if you don’t have the funds for those, you can always fall back on your trusty car:

Pros:
More flexibility in what you can bring
Easier to bring others and they can pitch in for gas
More control in where you want to stop

Cons:
Longer trip all together
Have to stop for gas, food and to use the rest room.
Being in the car for long hours can be unnerving.
Gas prices have been high lately

traveling in a car seems to be a simple way to get to a con. Plus, depending on how big your car is, you can store a lot of the stuff that you need to bring easily without having to worry about props being confiscated. Of course there are some things that you need to do whether you’re driving or riding along with other people:

  • Before hand, make sure your vehicle is in good shape. The last thing you’d want to happen is to go out of town and have your car break down.
  • If you’re riding, be sure to give money for gas. There’s going to be a lot of gas being spent so you need to pay up too. Gas is expensive these days, so you need to pitch in.
  • If it’s a long trip, maybe it would be good to designate a relief driver so the main driver can get some rest.
  • If you’re driving, be mindful of who else is in your car. Don’t do anything stupid that might put their life in danger. Passengers don’t do anything that might distract the driver and put you guys in danger.
  • When you have the chance to get food/use the rest room, DO IT! You don’t want to be that person who refuses to eat/use the bathroom when you’re at a rest stop. Go even if you don’t have to.
  • Be on time when you’re being picked up or picking people up.

 

In the end, you have to find the way that works the best for you. It’s all based on how much you’re willing to spend and where you need to go. Try to plan with other people so that you’re not traveling alone and can save some money.

 

Next week: How to properly run a meet up.

I would like to thank the following people for contributing some information for this article: Justin, Alena, Elizabeth, Brii, Tara, and Yunie.

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