Where do we sleep at PAX East? The answer is the bean bag chairs! I’m kidding of course.
If you have ever been to Boston, you know that one of the big expenses of visiting the beautiful city is the rental of a bed, or other surface, to sleep on. The first year that I attended PAX East we got passes just for Sunday to try it out. This was eight years ago and we’ve been attending every year since. This month I will be going over what I’ve learned over the years attending gaming conventions. Last week I talked all about what to eat to save money at PAX, in this post I’ll be talking about where to sleep while you’re in Boston. When planning a big trip like PAX East I always start with a general budget.
- Convention Badges
- Lodging (hotel, airbnb)
- Flight/Train tickets
- Driving (gas, parking at event and at hotel)
- Meals (coffee/breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks)
- Taxi/UBER/T-pass (to and from airport or convention center)
Lodging: I’ve found that it’s best to make plans for where you will be staying as soon as you know the dates of the event. Usually this is before tickets go on sale. In my experience, it does not pay to wait till the last minute.
- Hotels: The Westin Boston Waterfront is attached to the convention center but you will pay an arm and a leg to stay and eat there. I’ve found that it’s best to shop around in the surrounding area. Many of the hotels in the area have shuttles that will run from the hotel right up to the door of the convention center. You can see a list of hotels and shuttle routes here. If you find a hotel that is not listed check your maps, often there will be a shuttle stop within a block of hotels that are not listed.
- Airbnb: If we have a group of us going we have been opting to rent a local apartment or house. Not only is this often cheaper per room than staying at a hotel, but you get a kitchen which can be used to save your group even more money! We usually try to find a rental within a mile of the convention center so that we can walk if the weather is nice but also we can take an UBER for a reasonable amount if we would rather not walk.
You may be wondering: Is it worth your time to stay further away from the convention center? Lets first look at this as a math equation.
Assume that we can save $100 per night by staying 8 miles away.
UBER – $24 per day (assuming $1.50 per mile)
Driving – $45.28 per day which is $9.28 (assuming $0.58 per mile in gas and wear & tear) + parking at the convention center $18. The parking at the hotel would be there if you were had your car parked there the whole time or if you moved back and forth each day, so for that reason I’m not including it in my figure.
The second thing to consider is how much your time is worth. If you value the time to travel to and from the convention center more than you value the money that you would save, you’re better off staying closer and paying a little bit more.
A few things that I look for when finding a place to stay for the convention:
- Fridge – I save some money if I’m are able to store food in our room. It increases the variety of snacks that we’re able to bring. We’ll also save leftovers from eating out and sometimes grab some beverages to keep in the room (hotel pregame anyone?) Just don’t get too loud or risk your party getting shut down.
- Want a way to keep beer cold for just the night? You can buy a bag of ice and if you are lucky enough to have 2 sinks, fill one with ice and your beverages. A box and a plastic garbage bag can work in a pinch as a makeshift cooler.
- Proximity to parties/convention center. There are a lot of offsite adventures to be had after the show floor closes for the day. You can find a list of parties and events outside of the convention center on the Penny Arcade forums. A lot of these events require you to sign up ahead of time. There will be unofficial meet ups all over the conference area if you want to play it by ear.
- WiFi – Check the hotel reviews for wifi. I’ve found it to be very hit or miss depending on where you stay and if they offer upgrades to their wifi. I often rely on wifi over my cell service for streaming/tv channels and also to save data on my cell plan.
My hotel room checklist
- Google chrome or amazon firestick. Some nights we are beat but want to watch the streamed events that are broadcasting on Twitch. We have netflix and amazone prime, so it’s nice to have easy access to those services.
- Laptop is a must anytime we travel. It’s an easy way to read up on the companies that you are interested in visiting on the show floor.
- Headphones if you’re staying with friends or family. There’s always one person that wants to stay up later than me, (spoiler alert: it’s my husband) the headphones allow him to watch a show or play a game without the sound keeping me up.
- White noise machines are amazing. If you are not use to all of the city noises you will want to explore some white noise. You can also use a white noise app or the bathroom fan to help block out the sirens and car horns that drone on throughout the night.
What’s most important is having a clean, safe place to crash for the night. Trust me when I say that you will be exhausted at the end of the day. It may be tempting to explore the convention all day and party all night but make sure you allow enough time to decompress and rest up for the days ahead.