Budgeting for Blizzcon -Post-Pandemic & Updated for 2023!
*** DISCLAIMER ***
The opinions and experiences detailed here are our own, they are meant as a guide to how you could budget; your mileage may vary and prices are always changing. This advice is given in good faith… and we hope to see you at BlizzCon 2023 #WeBelieve!
When planning for a con, it’s easy to feel completely overwhelmed by all the details that go into it: Where do I stay? How do I find roommates? It costs HOW much for a drink at the Hilton?! I’ve personally found that it is much easier to break down each major element and then tackle them one at a time.
*** NOTE FOR EVERYONE ***
After the last 3 years, I cannot predict the future, what travel restrictions are, and any requirements that may be in place for “safe travel”. Masks, Vaccination Certificates, Pre-Travel Tests, etc. – We may not like them, but they are likely to be a requirement for some time to come. Just keep an eye on what you NEED to have done and have with you when you travel from wherever you are to the USA (California especially). Don’t think you will be able to get around this stuff. You Won’t. Just check the latest advice before you travel simple as that.
*** NOTE FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVELLERS ***
Before you book ANYTHING make sure that you have a valid passport with enough time left on it to tick whatever the requirement is (could be 6+ Months) and a visa or visa waiver certificate, if applicable, (ESTA – https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/). You don’t want to spend all that cash and find out you can’t travel or get to the US to have to turn around and go home 🙁
*** NOTE FOR US CITIZENS ***
Please, take a photo ID with you to travel on flights… I’ve seen enough episodes of Border Patrol to know,
you do not mess around when it comes to this kind of thing… be nice, calm, and respectful – manners cost nothing and can get you way further than an attitude problem! When it comes to planning for Blizzcon (or any con really) there are 5 major factors that you need to budget for:
- The Ticket
Because good luck getting in without it! Not to say there isn’t plenty that goes on outside the con -but that would kind of negate the point of going to Blizzcon if you couldn’t get in. Now, as we have seen over the years the prices of these tickets are subject to change so we are going to go off the 2019 ticket pricing for the purpose of this example. AXS was the Official Partner for 2019 so we are assuming a multi-year deal. But, this may have changed. Keep an eye on this situation, and get whatever app you may need in advance, make an account, make sure your card details are available, and good luck on Sale days!
In 2019 Blizzard also introduced a new 3-tier level ticket model:
● The Blizzcon Pass @$240 USD
This pass grants you entry and includes a Virtual Ticket (valued at $40 USD separately), and any additional bonus gift associated with the ticket for that year. If your primary interest lies in attending the convention’s events, demos, and social interactions, this pass will suffice. Additionally, the Virtual Ticket is an excellent resource for those of us who dislike queueing, as it allows you to revisit each event at your convenience once they are uploaded.
● The BlizzCon Portal Pass @$550 USD
At almost double the price of the regular pass, this one had a lot of extra goodies attached to it in addition to all the ones listed above. One of the major ones was access to the Darkmoon Faire at an event called “Night at the Faire” that was held the Thursday before BlizzCon started. This alone was enough for so many avid traders and collectors to be ready to hand over their gold but, it wasn’t the only extra perk. Portal Pass holders were given first access to the show hall, separate lines for various events, and better parking, and they even had access to an exclusive lounge where they could meet and speak with Blizzard developers.
● The Benefit Dinner Pass @$750 USD
This is the Bently of passes, that not only got you everything above but got you into the charity dinner where pass holders had the chance to mingle with various Blizzard developers and employees.
In 2019 this was held Thursday night before BlizzCon where all proceeds from the Dinner went to CHOC Children’s Charity, which really makes the steep price tag worthwhile for those that can afford it.
*** NOTE: We have no idea about the plans for 2023, but we will update this when details are announced.
- Where to Stay
● Hotel – This is the most likely option for most of us and can be one of the more frustrating items on your to-plan list as it is hard (but not impossible) to book until they announce the dates. It goes without saying that the closer you are to the con, the more expensive the hotel will be, so keep this in mind when booking. Paying a little more for your hotel now can easily pay off when you think of the cost of an Uber/Lyft or renting a car if your hotel isn’t within walking distance. When booking a hotel here are a few tips to save money:
Book early- This can be hard to do when you don’t know the exact date. There is no exact date that this is announced but, based on history, we can usually expect to hear this precious info somewhere between February and early May. Now, there are those who like to take the chance and go ahead and book before this, relying on previous date history and good luck that they secure the correct dates. Many hotels have a ‘pay at hotel’ option, which can be great for people who can’t afford to pay upfront. This is also a good option if you are still working on who, if anyone, will be staying with you.
Book directly with the hotel- This is a big one that a lot of people don’t realize can save you a ton of money. Although it can be tempting to book online through the hotel’s or deal finder site, you can get some of the best rates by calling and simply asking for them. Just be direct and ask if there are any special rates. Also, even if a hotel is showing that it is booked up or the prices seem really high online, don’t be afraid to still call and inquire. Pretty much all hotels have some rooms blocked off to accommodate last-minute reservations or, like in our case last year, to move to when your room unexpectedly floods on the 2nd night.
Bundle your flight & hotel together- If you do prefer to use a deal finder site such as Expedia or Priceline (my personal go-to), you save a ton of money by bundling your flight & hotel reservation in one. It may seem like a lot of money upfront, but it can easily save you hundreds in the long run.
Be sure to see what your reservation includes- It can easy to pull the trigger on a low price but, remember to see if there are any hidden expenses before clicking that “reserve” button. Things like parking, internet access, daily fees, and even breakfast can all add up really fast. If you are booking through a 3rd party site, be sure to compare this info against the company’s site as well to ensure all the info is up to date.
Whether it be by plane, train, or automobile, planning how you are actually going to get to Con is essential.
Flying: For many of us, this is the best option, and making sure you don’t pay an arm and a leg for a ticket takes some strategic planning.
Shop the sales: In the US, one of the absolute best times to buy flights is around Memorial Day which is the last weekend of May. My go-to site, Priceline, has come through for me and many others when it comes to nabbing amazing ticket prices not to mention they will refund you the difference if the price drops for your flight.
Follow the airlines: Whether it be on Twitter or Facebook, airlines such as Southwest and JetBlue will post about their annual sales but be sure to act fast, most only last 24 hours. There are also sites like Airfarewatchdog.com that will monitor pricing for certain flight paths and notify you via email if it matches your search alert.
Call the airline: Just like with hotels, calling the airline directly to book can unlock some great pricing.
See what your ticket includes: Again as we mentioned above, you want to see what you are getting with your ticket. Basic Economy can be a great option if you travel light and don’t mind where you sit or when you board, but sometimes paying as little as $20 more can provide you with the option to pick your seat, get boarding priority, allow you to bring a carry-on bag, and even include the cost of a checked bag which can range from anywhere from $20-$50 USD depending on airline & weight.
For instance, if you are an avid cosplayer or collector and have a lot you plan to bring with/back with you, it could be more beneficial to book with an airline like Southwest and pay a little more in order to take advantage of getting your 1st two checked bags, as well as a personal item and carry on the bag all included. However, if you are somehow able to squeeze everything into a single carry-on or suitcase, a low-priced economy ticket will do just fine.
Book at the right times: Believe it or not, that flight you looked at can be a different price each day of the week. It’s a well-known secret that booking at peak times and dates will lead to higher pricing. What a lot of people don’t realize is that when and what day you book can literally save you hundreds of dollars. Booking on a Tuesday used to be the go-to day but over the past few years, Sunday has become the best day to buy and when a lot of sales are announced. Hesitation isn’t your friend in this situation as most sales run for 48 hours max, with some prices jumping up after just a few hours.
Fly out on the right days: Sunday is usually one of the most expensive dates to fly, whereas days like Tuesday and Thursday tend to be much cheaper.
2023 Update & Hot Take 1
So after the hot mess, that was the pandemic, made us all stay at home, airlines and airports laid off a lot of staff. In the UK, we have gone from no travel to “GET ME OUT OF HERE” and Airports have become background scenes from The Walking Dead or World War Z. Endless lines of queuing passengers… check-in, bag drop, security, immigration. Everyone is shuffling along, looking for some spare change or brains… who knows! This may well have gotten a lot better by the time BC23 comes around, but in case it hasn’t GET TO THE AIRPORT VERY VERY EARLY. Be prepared to queue. Have water and wear comfy shoes. Just don’t turn up 1 hour before your flight and expect to make it. No amount of begging, shouting, or crying will get you to your plane any quicker.
However, there are things that you could do to potentially help, at a cost. If you travel a lot, and I mean A LOT, US Citizens should look into whether TSA PreCheck is an option to make your travel a little easier. And now, for some international travelers, TSA Global Entry may also be an option – take a look at the benefits and costs. It’s not for everyone, but it may be an option for those who love to travel to the US more than once a year.
See if Fast Track Security or Priority passes can be had for a reasonable price or as part of your flight. These can really cut down waiting times.
Driving: The biggest expense in driving would be, of course, gas. Prices vary from state to state, so using an app such as Gas Guru can help you find the best prices and plan your route accordingly. Also, it may be a good idea to have something like AAA set up just in case something happens on the road. Most car insurance companies offer services like roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement for a premium. If you decide to drive, again remember to check the parking policy wherever you are staying so you can factor that into your budget.
Train: Although I can’t say I would choose this option for myself as I travel from coast to coast, it is an option. Amtrak has options to upgrade to one of their sleeping cars for a bit more, and the prices seem comparable to that of flying, although they seem to run higher cost-wise.
2023 Update & Hot Take 2
Gas/Fuel prices have gone up. Whether you drive, fly, or catch the train/coach, the prices for all of those internally in the USA seem to have gone mad. Hopefully, by the time BC23 comes around, things will have settled down. BUT, budget for what the price is now. If the prices go down, you have more loot money or maybe enough to fly inside the aircraft rather than on the wing. You may even be able to buy a drink in the Hilton bar… which nicely leads us on to…
- Food & Drink
This can be a big expense if you don’t plan it right because the drinks and food at the con are expensive. One drink at the Hilton bar runs about $10. At the Starbucks found in some of the hotels you are looking at around $7 for a cup of coffee, and the cheapest item in the food court is a $6 chili cheese dog that makes Sonic’s look fancy.
Go grocery shopping: It goes without saying but, this is the most cost-effective option. For example, A handle of Tequila at Costco is around $25- 15 and a case of beer is around $20. Doing a little pre-gaming before traveling to Con can save you quite a bit of money, especially if you are staying at a hotel close enough to Con to be able to refill often. The same goes with food- spending $30 can either buy you sandwiches for the week, or it can buy 2 ppl a meal at one of the food trucks during the con. Although there are a few items that are must-try at con (Viking Dog!), taking advantage of things such as your hotel’s continental breakfast (remember to make sure this is included if you want it), your room’s mini (or full) fridge and a cheap cooler can really help you save big.
Use cash- Now, this may not apply to everyone but having a set amount of cash that you bring with you per day can help keep your spending in check. People are less inclined to spend frivolously when it is physically present as opposed to being able to swipe a card. Also, although most food trucks have card readers, network or other issues can arise that keep you from getting that delicious corndog if you don’t have alternative payment.
- Spending Money for Misc. Items
This is for some, one of the biggest expenses of the trip if they are a collector or interested in some of the exclusive items at the Blink store. The best advice we can give for this is to set a budget before you even board the plan to con and stick to it. As amazing an experience as Blizzcon is, the joy can quickly be lost if you come back home to a financial hole that you’ve dug for yourself because you just HAD to have those extra 3 Funkos. It is also a good idea to set aside a small amount for an unexpected expense like having to check an extra bag or pay a fee because your new gear has added on too much weight, or you forget your phone charger at home.
We’ve put together our tips along with those from our Facebook friends on Club Tito’s, BlizzNerds, and BlizzCon 20230 here in this awesome list!
- Start Budgeting way in advance. Putting aside $5-$10 a week can have your entire trip paid for by the time it comes around.
- Ask the community for advice if you are stuck. Groups like Blizzcon2023, World of Warcraft, etc. on FB, and other community groups on social media are a plethora of knowledge, just remember don’t feed the trolls.
- If you are looking for roommates to split the cost, go through community-vetted sources like Looking for Blizzcon. Also, if you are the reservation holder, have everyone Paypal/Venmo the cost
of the room to you 2 weeks prior to con to help avoid unexpected financial surprises.
- If you need to buy a ticket and didn’t get lucky enough to buy one when they came out, go through vetted community sources to purchase from someone in the community. Several groups like
Blizzcon2023 will keep a spreadsheet of members looking to purchase. Stay away from eBay!
- Transfer money from your account to your PayPal/Venmo balance, and pay for things with that account. Not only can it help you keep track of what you have saved, but it also keeps you from spending the money you have and can always be transferred back into your bank account if needed. You can even do cash deposits through approved retailers like Walmart with PayPal.
- Get a “Change Jar” – Thanks to Angela Sanchez (RIP You’ll never be forgotten, LOKTAR OGAR!) for the literal tip to “tip yourself” – Throw all of your spare change in the jar at the end of the day… you’ll be amazed how much you can save. Should easily be enough for food, drinks, and maybe even some merch!
- Syphon off Overtime – Thanks to Jade Lynch for this one… If you can afford to do it, think about siphoning any extra cash made from overtime at work, and anything you get on a paycheck outside of “normal ” pay BOOM straight to the bc fund.
- Set up auto-savings – Thanks to Nicki Fischer for this suggestion – have a monthly “bit” taken from my checking/current account and automatically put it into another account to save for things, like BlizzCon.
- Use a Spreadsheet (PROPERLY) – Thanks to Adriana Carrasquillo for this techno-tip – try to budget using a spreadsheet; separate your Travel, Hotel, Food, and Spending Money budgets; make sure you don’t put everything on one page. And now… MATH! (or Maths if you are in the UK!)…
Chavii’s Budget Example:
-Ticket: Basic BlizzCon Pass @$240 USD (w/ ticket vendor fee) purchased when available, last year through AXS.
-Hotel: Hilton for Tues-Sun: $620 (about $103/night) – we booked in advance on a lucky guess the week after 2018 con) and we had the option to pay at check-in which gave us more time to budget. We split the group among 6 of us and divided the daily room cost by # of people staying per day as not everyone stayed the whole week. The total cost for the room was $3085 for Tues-Sun for a double queen on the lanai deck, averaging out to about $515 a night.
-Flight: US Internal $235 (UK International @£450-600) – a round trip economy with a carry-on. I booked this around memorial day on Priceline. The week after the prices jumped up about $150 and were almost $100 more expensive than the week before.
-Food & Drink: $120- this included my drinks (thank you Costco) and food for my whole stay. Since we stayed at the Hilton, I was able to visit the room when I needed another drink and I’m a light eater, especially when there is cosplay in the near future.
Spending Money: Maybe $30? I’m one of those weird people that spend next to nothing on gear and such during the con.
Fletch’s Note: If you can hit $30, you’re better than me, I’d budget about $300-$500 for your 1st BlizzCon, if you don’t spend it, save it, and remember you have to get all of this home! But you will be like a kid in a candy store… don’t buy the stuff you can easily get at the Blizzard Gear Store!
That is equal to $24/wk if you start budgeting the week con ends (which I actually do), or $26 a week if you start the 1st week of December. Also, spacing out when you purchase things (ex: Ticket in March/April -> Flight end of May-> Hotel at check-in in November?) can break it down into bite-size manageable bits. If a week comes that you can do $5 more, then do it- because some weeks you may have to do $5 less. *$24- 1 week of large iced coffees from Dunkin (the superior coffee).
Also, remember to allot more for the items that are more important to you. For me, it was springing for a better hotel. In 2018 what I had to spend on Uber and food/drinks could easily be offset by paying a little more to get a little closer. My flights? I took the cheapest option with some of the most god-awful layovers & travel times but I was okay with that.
Chavii & Fletch
Originally written by uKFletch at https://clubtitos.com/budgeting-for-blizzcon-post-pandemic-updated-for-2023/