I remember well my first homeschool convention. We didn’t book our hotel in time and ended up staying a few miles from the convention site. While this might not sound like a big deal, those few miles cost us BIG. Instead of spending hours in encouraging or practical sessions, we spent them in traffic. Instead of having plenty of time to spend in the vendor hall making curriculum decisions, we spent that time walking to and from the back parking lots.
You’d think I learned my lesson…but I didn’t. I’ve found myself in the same predicament several times. Usually, this happens to me because I fail to book my hotel early enough. However, sometimes I have just failed to make the right choice.
Why I think staying offsite is such a bad idea…
- Traffic: remember I said that we stayed a few miles off site? Well that 1.9 miles took more than 30-45 minutes to navigate in the traffic of the busy downtown area of the convention center. So, even if your hotel seems very close…unless you can walk, be prepared to have a possible long commute.
- Parking fees: once we drove into the convention center parking area, we had to pay $12 a day to park there. Be sure to calculate this in when you consider staying at that hotel down the road that is $20 bucks cheaper. Chances are, you will be eating your savings with parking fees. On-site hotel guests are usually offered a significant discount or even free parking.
- Huge discounts for nice hotels: Remember that your convention has negotiated a group rate that is usually significantly cheaper than what you would normally pay for such a hotel. Why not pay an extra $10 a night to be treated to a luxurious stay when you aren’t likely to do that at another time?
- Staying on-site supports your convention- and if you are attending the right convention, then you will want to support their cause. Often hotels negotiate facility fees based on hotel rooms booked. So please…help them out!
- Bad weather, heavy books, and nap times…oh my! Yes, all three of those things can make staying off-site a bear. Shopping in the vendor hall? Why not stop by the room and leave your purchases rather than lug them around all day? Saves your back and your sanity. Got a little one who naps? Kids who need to go to bed? Staying on-site allows one parent to head back to the room while the other stays and gleans from the conference.
- Big families aren’t always welcome. Remember, your convention has negotiated for big families. Their selected hotel or hotels are ready and eager to accept large families. Room capacities are not an issue as they would be with off-site hotels.
I’ve even stayed at the hotel that was right across the street, but not connected to the convention and found myself wishing that we had booked early enough to get the hotel that was connected. You’d be surprised how long that 1 block of walking is after you have walked a convention center for an entire day lugged down with the best curriculum ever!
Of course I’m all for saving money. Just remember, there is a difference between cheap and frugal and often that difference is the inability to see that sometimes it’s actually much more wise to spend a little extra to save a lot of hassle!
This week’s series on Homeschool Conventions is being sponsored by Teach them Diligently Convention.