I do like hitting up the big cons like PAX or Gen Con, but I hate the inflated hotel prices. Like you said, for the hotel and airfare I end up paying I could end up just about anywhere else I'd want to go. But of course, like Disney World, sometimes it's the one place you really want to go, so it's not about where else you could go.
I like attending PAX because it is PAX... taking an international vacation or going somewhere else wouldn't achieve that goal. I go to see internet friends, play some games with them, pick up new releases (Fantasy Flight Games debuts their the betas for their Star Wars games at the big cons), check out the expo hall (swag and hands-on pre-releases!), hit some panels, and of course the concerts.
But you're right, it ain't cheap.
The next convention on my horizon is Loncon in August, and considering that I live pretty close, it shouldn't be too big an expense. Still, between a £65 ticket (which, for five days, is admittedly great value) plus train fare of probably about £15/day, it's going to come to about £150 before I factor in food, drink and swag. Admittedly, that has nothing on PAX - I do want to go to PAX someday, but I'd rather not think about the price of flights from the UK - but when you're freelancing and not getting a regular income, it's still a lot of money.
Conventions are so much fun, and I love them, but they're a big expense even if you're close by.
Some day I wish to live in a city where the cost of living is low enough I can actually afford to go on vacation AT ALL.
Vacations? I vaguely remember something like that ten years ago. I don't like going near airports any more.
Riding a train down to Boston, staying in my father's apartment for the duration. Set.
Is PAX Worth the Price?
Critical Intel wants to know if it's quite literally worth your money to go to big conventions.
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I spit my tea when you went over the numbers, it looks like austerity hasn't touched the Rath household.
I can see why you go with your work but I couldn't justify spending that on myself with a wife and child. As you point out, there is so much else that money could be spent on
I guess I'll continue to follow pax in the press rather than attend.
Any of the PAX ticket costs are actually pretty low by some comparisons. An earlier poster mentioned hotel prices which is what gets most people. This is due to not knowing scheduled days until it's nearly too late to find anything manageable.
There are alternatives. Especially to keep lodging prices down. I go to Prime every year and here's my suggestions:
Look for rentals vs hotels
Be prepared to walk or take transit (This is good for you anyway!). The more able you are to take public transit, the lower the lodging cost.
Despite lodging, buy portable, store bought food. This can be anything from chips to fruit. Cuts the cost of eating.
Try and buy those tickets early, but don't get gouged. Prices are only as high as the demand at any current time. The sooner they're available, the higher the price.