I started blogging in the summer of 2012, and it was too late to arrange a visit to #FinCon12. The next year, I was on a bike trip around Europe. In 2014, I thought about it, but my inner introvert took over. In 2015, I was in the U.S. two weeks before, but just got lazy at the prospect of waiting two weeks, plus I hadn’t been blogging much for the past 12 months, so I didn’t feel like I belonged there.
2016 is the year. I went back to blogging, treating my blogs like a business, with the ambitious goal of netting six figures after expenses this year. Plus, Fincon is in San Diego, which is pretty awesome.
I made plans early in the year to go to FinCon. In January, my PayPal balance was not even high enough to buy a ticket, after spending over $3,000 in blog design and content. I decided I would dedicate February to finding freelancing clients to pay for FinCon, and figuring out ways to make it more affordable.
My planned expenses were:
- Flight $700 from Guatemala
- Accommodation $880 4 nights at the conference hotel
- Conference $250 early bird ticket
- Miscellaneous $250 Maybe rent a car, extra food and local transportation costs.
Total $2,080. Ouch! That’s usually what I spend in a month of travel, that hurts for four days.
By mid February, I had landed two freelancing clients, made $3,150, and “paid” for FinCon. Still, that was a lot of money. That’s how I reduced it:
Flying from Guatemala to San Diego cost around $700. I could fly Spirit to L.A. and rent a car, which would be a nice road trip. But I didn’t want to arrive exhausted either. So not much I can do here, as foreigners can’t travel hack with credit cards. The best thing will be to book early. I found a $360 deal on AA in April for Belize City (six hours away vs 8 hours away from Guatemala City) to LAX.
I will also have to pay $15 to exit Belize. But that’s much better than the $700-ish I had seen from Guatemala. The bus to the border and the the airport come to around $20.
The FinCon hotel was around $220 a night for four nights, $880. I could half that with a roommate. I also found a Motel 6 walking distance from the hotel, for $75 a night. I could find a roommate too. After tax, with a roommate, it would be $220 for the four nights. 75% less than the Sheraton.
The next option is a $45 a night Airbnb, but a little further away, so that would mean transportation costs, and no napping in the afternoon if the conference is too much, which it will likely be, at least one of the days. Being an introvert at a conference is hard work.
Finally, I could probably find a CouchSurfing but I don’t think it is fair that the person hosts me and I come back at 10pm from a conference and barely spend time with them or invite them out some night. That is not the way I have used CS in the past, and as a host to 100+ people, that’s not the way I would like to be treated. So for as much as I’d like a free room, I’ll pay to have a place to crash and no social obligations outside the conference.
In the end, I am getting an Airbnb with a roommate for $200.
First, I bought a $250 early bird ticket in February. But then, I found someone was selling a $190 ticket, so I bought it and sold mine haha. $60 saved. It was a risk but that was two months before the conference and I sold back within a day.
I am renting a car after thinking about it for a while, I found a $25/day deal. I don’t have roaming so taking Uber would be complicated without wifi, and being able to go to the beach or nap in the afternoon is worth the cost. So that’s $100 strictly for the conference days. I’ll try to eat at the conference as much as possible so food costs should be around $50. I am turning the four day trip into a 3 weeks U.S. trip, killing two birds with one stone, no set plans yet, I am tempted by Arizona and New Mexico, but could just as well end up driving North to San Francisco. Let me know if you are around and want to meet!
My total comes down to:
- Flight $360.
- Accommodation $200.
- Conference $190.
- Miscellaneous $150.
Total: $900. Still expensive for four days but 55% cheaper than initially planned.
While this was all covered by the extra freelance money, I am hoping it will also pay for itself in new business.