A couple of days ago, CEDIA Communications Manager Olivia Sellke – not to be confused with a Selkie, a mythological mermaid-like creature said to live as a seal in the sea but shed its skin to become human on land (however, I have never actually seen Olivia Sellke in the water, so it is
entirely possible she is indeed both a Sellke and
a Selkie) – posed the question, “What is your best money-saving tip when planning to attend CEDIA EXPO?”
Now, I consider myself something of a master when it comes to penny-pinching. I once stayed in a hotel room in Las Cruces, New Mexico that cost $16 a night. (Granted, walking on the floor left the bottoms of your feet stained a nightmarish black, and the water in the shower drained through a hole that looked like it had been made with a sledge-hammer.) So, if you are headed to CEDIA this year and don’t have a cushy company expense account, here are some ways to have an awesome EXPO and not come home with a busted bank account.
Sure, you could pay to attend, or you could wait around for some distributor or manufacturer to take pity on your wretched soul and offer you a pass. OR you could click this link
and use the code CT01 to register for FREE! Looky there, you haven’t even left for the show yet and you’re already saving money!
The code is strong with free registration powers. Give it to your friends. Pass it out at bus stations and Internet cafes. Better yet, share it with your enemies! Kill them with the soul-searing kindness that only a free CEDIA EXPO registration can bring.
If you can drive to CEDIA, do it. Even better? Carpool. Four to six dudes in a van can cover some serious miles in short order and without too much expense. Plus, you’ll have a car while you’re in Denver! (Make sure the hotel has parking.)
No car? No worries. Just stick out your thumb. No one expects a wandering transient to chip in for gas, and you’ll likely get to meet some interesting people on the road! Plusses of hitching: totally free travel; interesting conversations. Negatives: no way of knowing when you’ll actually arrive; might have to ride in back of pick-up; possibility of head ending up in box Seven
But thumbing might be too tame for the adventure-minded. Where’s the fun if you get picked up by a station wagon full of elderly ladies out for a Bingo trip? If you want to turn your CEDIA road trip into a right-proper Rumspringa, I’ve got just the thing: truck stops! Truckers are in it for the long-haul, and if you wait long enough, you’ll possibly find a hitch going all the way to Denver. You will want to brush up on your CB lingo
so that if they ask if you want a “road pizza” or if you are a “male buffalo” you can most definitely say no.
If you can’t drive to CEDIA, you could take a bus all Jack Reacher style. Just you, the clothes on your back and a folding toothbrush in your pocket as you travel the countryside ready to head-butt and neck-punch any punks that get in your way. Of course, you’re (sadly) not Reacher. And even though the Greyhound ride is only $218 from Myrtle Beach to Denver, you’d be on the bus for 2 days, 6 hours and 50 minutes! And you’d arrive on a bus. That is about the lowest amount of swag humanly possible. No. The bus is not the way to roll to CEDIA. Unless you are
Jack Reacher, in which case #Respect.
Before you start thinking train, with visions of Skyfall
in your mind, rolling up in a tuxedo with spies and martini-filled dining cars, instead mull this word over: “Amtrak.” Also, the train is not a way to save money. It costs almost as much as a plane ticket, with the added bonus of taking 49 hours and 1 minute and requiring sleepovers in exotic locales like the waiting rooms of Penn and Union Station.
For most of us, getting to Denver will involve a plane. If you’ve got frequent flier miles, this might be a good time to burn some of them up. If not, a Texas A&M study found that weekends are the best time to purchase tickets as prices drop nearly 5 percent. Another helpful tool is Bing Travel
, which uses Cyberdyne algorithms to predict whether ticket prices will go up or down between now and your travel date.
The easiest way to save on rooming expense is to share a room with someone. If you’re feeling even more thrifty, you could crash on someone’s couch or floor. I mean, if it means CEDIA or no CEDIA, I’d definitely sleep on the floor. Sadly, the Denver YMCA does not accommodate overnight guests. Total bummer, I know.
One of the awesome things about Denver is that the downtown area is totally clean and easy to navigate and feels safe. There is a free trolley thing called the RTD MallRide that runs the length of the downtown area and drops you off super close to the convention center. (And, from what I recall, one of the pick-ups is in front of a Starbucks. But since we are doing CEDIA on the cheaps, we won’t be drinking any $4-a-cup macro-blend.) If you stay in the downtown area, use this awesome service, which runs from 5:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. and enjoy some fresh, mile-high air as you walk around the city.
If you are outside the range of the MallRide, try to stay at a hotel that uses CEDIA’s free shuttle bus system
. Totally free and you don’t have to deal with the hassles of parking. If you are at a hotel SO far out of town that there isn’t a shuttle available, take a cab to the closest CEDIA shuttle hotel and then ride for free from there. Yes, it will take a bit longer, but it will save you some ducats, son!
Eating and Drinking:
Ideally you’ll stay at a place that offers a free breakfast. This is your time to eat like it is your last meal before The Hunger Game
s! And coffee. Lots of coffee. Caffeine keeps the brain sharp and fools the stomach into thinking its busy doing something instead of gnawing on itself. When I’m traveling, I have a motto: “Eat now; you don’t know when you’ll get a chance to eat again.”
Part of this motto also means we’re gonna skip lunch. We don’t need the extravagance of three meals a day. What are we, Hobbits? And if you did breakfast right, by lunchtime you should be saying, “Oh, God, I seriously still can’t even think about food.”
Now, there are usually plenty of opportunities to grab food on the show floor, and I encourage you to embrace these. Especially when you stumble on free waters; gotta stay hydrated, and water fills the belly. And you know what really makes those “Fun Size” candy bars actually “fun”? Eating like six of them.
At the end of the day, there is usually some booth that starts pouring beer. Find this booth. Find it with the intensity of a white-hot Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive
. When you get to the front of the line, don’t forget to get an extra beer for “your friend.” (Your friend is you.)
There are usually several options for dining on the cheaps at night. Maybe a rep or manufacturer is taking you out to dinner. If you’re not that cool, there are always parties going on. Sometimes you need to get a pass or ticket at a manufacturer’s booth. Other times it is just a show-up-and-party kind of thing. If all else fails, ask around on the show floor. There’s almost always something going on, and that something nearly always involves free food and drink.
So whatever you need to do to get there, make sure that come September 25 you are in Denver for CEDIA EXPO. I’ll be looking for ya.