Making It to Annual Conference: Financially Planning Your Trip

So, ALA Annual Conference to be held in Orlando is 7 months away.  Proposals for presenting have been accepted and presenters have been notified.  Keynote speakers, author events, and preconference workshops have been announced.  And now, reality has set in.  Can I afford to go? Let’s break down those expenses for a full conference attendance.

The expenses breakdown:

Travel

Airfare—Flights from select hubs can be as low as $200 round trip.  Plan to book at least four months in advance for the best rates.  Lower your cost with use of frequent flyer miles.

Hotel

5 nights–$160 to $400 per night depending how early you book and how close to the convention center the hotel is.  Remember there is a reservation deadline for the best conference rates through the ALA website.  Share a room to bring your cost down.

Registration

Register by the early bird deadline for the lowest cost.

Food

6 days—estimated $40.00 per day, for a total expense $240.00.    The average cost of a meal from the food vendors in the exhibit hall are $11-$15 and restaurants in the convention area may cost between $20.00 — $100 per meal.  Lower your food costs by taking advantage of exhibitor presentation meal invites.  Visit the local grocery store (Publix or Walmart on Sand Lake Road) and pick up some inexpensive meals and snacks to keep in your hotel room refrigerator.  Most hotel rooms in the convention area have fridge/mini microwave combos and coffee pots.  Occasionally, giveaway snacks are offered to attendees. Have the snack or bag it for later.

Conference attendance is 7 months away, begin your planning now.  With a savings of $215 per month through June, a full conference attendance is within your reach!

Table

Some other tips to off-set your expenses.

  • Ask your school district or employing institution if there are professional development funds for use.
  • Seek funding from your school’s PTA/PTO or other parent organization.
  • Request support from a community-based organization such as your local Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, or other group that supports education.
  • Graduate students inquire about grants from your institution.
  • Remember conference attendance may be deducted from your taxes as a professional expense. Check with your tax professional.

Vandy Pacetti-Donelson is a Library Media Specialist. She is a library advocate and Board Director for the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME). Find her online at www.eliterateandlevelingup.com or follow her on Twitter @VandyPD.

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