Monday, April 16, 2012

It's Conference Season. . .on a budget!

Spring is finally here and with it, April showers, May flowers and genealogy conferences. This past weekend the Ohio Genealogical Society held its annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio. I wish I could have been there, but this year I have decided to attend the NGS conference in Cincinnati. The reason -- conferences are expensive and since my family is from Southwest Ohio, I can combine a research trip with the conference.

This year the National Genealogical Conference is being held on May 9-12 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The cost of attending the entire conference is $210. A single day is $100. I have opted for one day of conference and one day of research in nearby Clermont County. I will be spending my research time in Batavia, Ohio, so I chose to stay at the Ameristay hotel which with my husband's veteran discount will be $86 a night (plus tax). Since I shop at Kroger's, I will be able to take advantage of their fuel perks which will give me up to $1 per gallon discount on my gas. Altogether I am looking at around $350 for conference, motel, and gas plus a day of local research.

Since my motel does not have a breakfast bar, I will have to find a quick inexpensive breakfast. Fortunately there is a Frisch's and several fast food restaurants adjacent to the motel. On the plus side the motel is 2 miles from Batavia and only a few miles from the nearest golf course (for my husband). I can walk anywhere I need to in Batavia and I will take my lunch with me. 

When you consider all of the things you can take advantage of at a genealogy conference, it is definitely money well spent. In addition to the lectures, there is the opportunity to meet other genealogists, compare notes, and perhaps find a relative or two. In the exhibit hall you will find vendors for everything from onesies for the grandkids to genealogy programs for your computer. Many national and local organizations are represented and there are books, charts, maps, back copies of magazines, DNA Tests, and many freebies! One perk of the exhibit hall is being able to try out new products such as software programs and many times the vendors will have conference special pricing.

Here is the Exhibitor list for the NGS Conference:

Before entering the Exhibit Hall I have found, over the years, that it helps to have a plan. This will prevent what I refer to as Conference overload. That is when one or more genealogists get on an elevator with too many books in their suitcases. This will cause the elevator to stop between floors. I have been on elevators when this has happened. I have been the one with the books! Trust me, this experience will influence your shopping habits unless you like making multiple trips to your car on the morning of your departure.

I suggest that your first trip to the exhibit hall be for browsing only, not buying. Reserve enough time to visit every vendor and make mental notes of items that interest you. This eliminates a lot of impulse buying. You'd be surprised at how much stuff you can pick up at a conference. This will hit you when you get home and unpack everything. I know this seems impossible, especially if it is your first conference, but you can drop an awful lot of money without realizing it. 

A great way to lower expenses is by sharing the cost with others. The most obvious is to put as many people as will comfortably fit in your car and split the cost of gas. It is not unusual for people to contact local societies and offer to help pay for gas in exchange for a ride to a conference. Many of the events provide the opportunity to connect with others who wish to share a room. The FGS Conference in Birmingham offers a quad room that is $39.50 per person per night. Not a bad deal if you think you could share a room with total strangers! 

As you can see it is possible to cut your conference expenses. I always take my own pop and lunch items (which I buy on sale with coupons). I will also look for restaurants with specials. Applebees has the 2 for $20 special where you get an appetizer to share and 2 entrees. Bob Evans has their senior menu for people 55 and older. If there is a nearby Drury Inn, you have the breakfast and dinner buffets. (See the March 5, 2012, post on conference hotels). Be sure to do a little bit of research ahead of time to find out what is close and affordable.

Next: Genealogy Conferences, 101!

1 comment:

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