Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year Geek Tips: Planning Ahead for Con Season

January means a new year, and a new year means that convention season will be here before we know it (and, in some areas, is still going strong). Cons don't really start in Chicago until C2E2 in April, but because I'm a poor graduate student, I do like to (and need to) plan ahead in order to know exactly when I need to have the cash to play for badges/registration, hotels, and travel. My plans aren't 100% for later in the year (I want to go to Dragon Con, but I need to figure out if it's logistically possible for me), but here's a brief overview of what I'm planning for 2014 with an approximate idea of costs. Making a list of the conventions, dates, locations, and costumes for the year ahead helps me to stay organized for the year--and it could help you, too, which is why I'm sharing this.

I'm also laying out the costume ideas I have for each con, because my major "resolution" in 2014 is to expand my cosplay portfolio.

Con #1: C2E2

Where: McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
Dates: April 25(?), 26, 27
I teach until 3pm on Fridays, so I'm not sure if I can make it to the city before the end of festivities on Friday afternoon. Still, though, I purchased a 3-Day pass ($60 if purchased before the convention). I also reserved a hotel room for Saturday night at the con hotel, but the costs of that will be shared and be $70 at the highest. Gas up to Chicago from school is about $30.
Base Cost: $160

Cosplay Ideas

1. Rogue from X-Men: Evolution

2. Enchantress from Justice League Dark (If my brother doesn't come)

3. Death from The Sandman (If my brother does come)

Con #2: Anime Central

Where: Hyatt Regency O'Hare, Rosemont, IL
Dates: May 16th-18th, though I'm not 100% on which dates I will attend due to final exams.
I haven't purchased anything here, but weekend passes are currently $53. I won't get a hotel room, most likely, unless several people want to go in on it with me (which is a possibility). I'd expect to spend around $50 on a room, then. Gas to Chicago is about $30, but since we're going on a family vacation a couple days later, I won't count it as a con cost since I'll be there already.
Base Cost: $53

Cosplay Ideas

1. Aqua from Kingdom Hearts

Con #3, Possibility 1: Chicago Comic Con

Where: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, IL
Dates: August 21-24 (it's late this year, and the weekend RIGHT before classes begin. Thanks, guys.)
Chicago Comic Con has been my yearly convention, but I'm willing to forego it in order to go to Dragon Con, if I can afford it and get down there in time after teaching on Friday. Weekend tickets are $90, and I will be staying at my parents' house (per usual). Gas to Chicago (if I'm not there already) is about $30
Base Cost: $90- 120

Cosplay Ideas

1. Spoiler (Though I may switch her with Rogue for C2E2)

2. Riven

Con #3, Possibility 2: Dragon Con

Where: Atlanta, GA
Dates: August 29- September 1
I want to go to Dragon Con so badly. I just don't know if I'll be able to afford it--I'm not paid between June and September 16th, which would make things hard. Still, I really want to try to make this happen. I'd use the same costumes for Dragon Con as I would for Chicago Comic Con. Dragon Con costs between $85 and $100, depending on when you get tickets. I would expect to drop another $60 on my share of gas and $200 on my share of the hotel room. 
Base Cost (Estimate): $305

Con #4: Chicago TARDIS

Where: Westin Lombard Yorktown Center
Dates: November 28-30
I had so much fun last year that I just had to make plans to go again. I also have a few people coming to Chicago TARDIS with me this time, and I'm really excited to share the time with them that holiday weekend. Tickets aren't on sale yet, but it was $50 for last year. I would be driving to and from the con on Saturday and (maybe) Sunday. Travel costs from my parents' (it's the weekend after Thanksgiving) would be negligible. 
Base Costs: $50

Cosplay Ideas

1. Member of the Sibylline Sisterhood

Total Base Con Costs (With Chicago Comic Con): $353-383
Total Base Con Costs (With Dragon Con): $568

And that, my friends, is why it's important to budget and stay ahead of things. This doesn't even include costume costs, food/drink, or spending money at the con.I plan to chronicle my C2E2 costumes very closely, including all the costs of making costumes for you beginning cosplayers out there. So keep an eye out for that around March, and I'll update some of these costs to reflect those costs.

Hopefully this is helpful for those of you who plan to develop a yearly con schedule (with or without cosplaying). Part of my goals for this next year is to be more responsible financially, and this my start. 

Until next time...


  1. Sometimes I wish there were more cons in my area, and other times I'm glad there aren't simply because of the cost! I only ever attend PAX Prime every year, although this year I'm hoping to go to ECCC!

    1. I wish there were bigger cons in my area. I used to wish that there were more, but then I made this list of the ones I wanted to go to and thought "Huh. There are more of these than I thought there were."