“You Have a Trip Coming Up”

This is a reoccurring reminder every time I go shopping before any trip.

You have a trip coming up.

Yup. I do. So, tell me, how’d I go to buy some jeans for my trip, and end up with all this?

YouHaveATrip

Okay. Let’s reason, a bit, here:

There was a sale at All the Rage comics (which I need to do a proper post on, sometime), where everything I bought was either 50% or 25% off. So, the three comics toward the bottom were 50%. Then the 1986 trade paperback of The Dark Knight Returns was 25% off, and I ended up paying less than $10 for it. Then that copy of Metal was 25% off, and I’d been wanting that particular cover. Decent and fairly inexpensive haul, there.

The Lil Gotham issues were $2.99 at V-stock, and actually came with a second issue behind each one. So I walked away with issues #1-4, plus my mom bought them for me. So, zero spent on those four issues.

I needed to buy a small purse, and planned to make this purchase, because I don’t want to haul my con bag around outside of the con itself. I mainly just needed a place to shove a few items in that zips. So, I went into Hot Topic to have a look. They were having a sale: if you bought any bag, if you put anything into the bag, you’d get 25% off the bag AND the item. So, the Tiffany Pop! from Bride of Chucky got shoved into the Harley bag. I left paying less for both than I would have for just the bag, itself. SCORE!

I did get my jeans and other miscellaneous clothing items I needed for my trip. But the point was showing that I could still make a haul like the one above, save a bunch of money, and still be ready for a con that is now ONE WEEK AND ONE DAY AWAY! Whoa. I should finish packing…

~Angel

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On the Road: Bat Force Radio

BatForceRadiobooks

Let’s get something out of the way, before I begin: Road trips are not my preferred means of travel. If I have to choose between 14+ hours in the car, or 3 hours on a plane… Hands down, I’d be choosing to wait in the TSA line with my shoes in a bucket and a boarding pass in hand. Roads trips, a good percent of the time, are quite miserable for me.

So, let’s start sharing some things I’ve found that can make the trips much easier, starting with one of my favorites. Whether it’s just an hour drive to St Louis, or 15+ hour journey to Orlando in a car full of people: I love listening to Bat Force Radio in the car.

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Universal Dining: Three Broomsticks

Harry Potter fanatics, such as myself, rejoiced at the initial announcement of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter being added to Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios, Orlando.

WE GET TO SEE THE CASTLE?! WE GET TO EXPLORE HOGSMEADE?!

And for those who have been, you know – it’s like walking onto the set, and everything is magical.

That being said, one of the things I was ridiculously excited for, was the opportunity to dine at the Three Broomsticks.

ThreeBroomsticks2

The Three Broomsticks restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is a quick service option for those of us that are go-go-go at the parks.  They offer a handful of different options, including fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, Cornish pasty, turkey legs and fresh vegetables, plus items on the kid’s menu for picky little eaters.

What do I always get?

ThreeBroomsticks

This huuuuuuge plate of deliciousness! Seriously, you get you money’s worth with this restaurant.

So is it worth a visit? Definitely, especially for fellow fans of the books and movies.

And you can’t forget the best part of the visit: BUTTERBEER!

Butterbeer

~Angel

 

Savings Challenge

Saving

I can be a very motivated money saver when I need to be. If I want something badly enough, I’ll pinch pennies and hoard money and come up with ways to get some extra cash. With an upcoming Orlando trip in September/October for Halloween Horror Nights and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, I need to start putting money back. Here’s the game plan:

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Convention Tips

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Within the span of one year’s time, I have went to FIVE Wizard World conventions. Yes, FIVE. Good thing I’m a Con Addict that adores traveling, haha.

During this time, and these many experiences, I’ve learned a few things to make my con adventures A LOT easier. Here’s some tips and answers to questions I get quite a lot:

1.) If you buy some art or a print, and it comes with a free plastic sleeve – KEEP IT! I know this sounds like a weird thing to some people, but you wouldn’t believe how many people end up buying plastic sleeves to hold art/prints/autographs/photo ops. I learned at my first con, when one of the first prints I bought came with a sleeve, that this was a handy thing to have. I could easily fit any 11×17 sized prints (very, very common at conventions, from what I’ve noticed) as well as anything smaller – such as the 8×10 from photo ops, autographs, etc. So, SO helpful. And a lot of people kept asking me where I found them, so I wasn’t alone in thinking they were pretty handy.

2.) Celebrities – are they worth it? Excellent question I receive a lot. People seem to be very split down the middle about this. Some people like to argue cons that are celebrity focused are a waste and trying to drain fans of their money, perpetuate the ‘celebrity worship’ mentality, and that they’re missing the point of the con entirely. Some people think the celebrity guests are a great way for fans to get to meet and connect with some of their idols, especially in cases where the celebrity has made a huge difference in their life somehow. Where do I stand on the subject? I walk the line, really. I think that con can be about BOTH things – meeting heroes, and being surrounded by your fellow geeks. I partake in both the geek community aspect as well as the celebrity stuff. I browse the vendors and artists, geek-out with others that enjoy my fandoms, and check out the awesome cosplays. But I can’t deny I’ve met some heroes via con and made connections that I never could have had otherwise. In my opinion – if you can meet your hero, do it. Not everyone will have time to spend forever talking to you, but the ones that can will make the entire experience worthwhile. Trust me.

3.) Don’t be defeated by your own thirst and hunger. I deal with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that attacks my moisture producing glands, so I have to have some means of drinking water throughout the day. I try to remember a water bottle or keep track of every single water fountain in the convention center. Keep a water bottle handy, and a few light snacks in case you get hungry. While every con I’ve been to has had concession stands of some form to eat at, I usually only tried to do that once a day, if I needed to. Why spend extra money on corndogs that you could spend on sweet nerd stuff?

4.) Consider investing in or designating a Con bag. This doesn’t have to be any particular sort of special brand, or even style, but this has become a must for me. I didn’t have a special awesome bag at my first con, but ended up buying my first con bag from an artist there. It was a small, rectangular bag with a Harley Quinn image from the artist on it. I wish I could remember the artists name! Anyway, I used this for my next few cons, and it was PERFECT, and then my friend Skylar bought me a slightly larger but same style bag with Batman and the Joker on it, and since it had an extra pocket or two the other didn’t have, it became my designated con bag. It can fit my iPad (if for some reason I need it), organization stuff with my tickets, maps, etc inside, my wallet, and any other little must-haves. It isn’t too big and clunky. It sits at my side with a flap over the top, so no one can easily slip their hand inside and take anything without me being VERY aware of it. It really is perfect for my con needs. But, figure out what suits YOU the best, and go from there. Maybe a mini backpack is more your style? I know my best friend managed just fine with hers.

5.) Pack appropriately. DO bring important papers – like tickets. Bring important things – ID, money, water bottle, bandaids, etc. Do not bring more than you are comfortable carrying around all day. While some things may seem like a wise choice to bring along at the time, they can get cumbersome after a few hours of hauling them around. Be kind to your body, and don’t bring too much extra.

6.) Bring cash. This is easy enough. You want an autograph? Cash. A lot of vendors? Cash only. Yes, there are ATMs, but trust me. Going in prepared with your cash is much, much simpler. Plus, you can avoid ATM fees.

7.) Stay organized. I have a map of the convention floor that I analyze strategically the week leading up to con. I go over the schedule of panel times, photo op times, costume contest, etc. I have a small accordion file that I use to keep things organized for myself and usually my group – a slot for my tickets, one for my photo ops separate, a slot for everyone else’s tickets, their photo ops, maps and schedules, etc. I’m VERY organized, and it’s something I’ve picked up after my first two cons were a tad chaotic. It’s much easier to know you have everything sorted and ready, so you can spend more time focused on all the fun your day entails.

8.) Dress comfortably, but embrace your fandom. This is really up to you, but I think if you’re going in casual attire instead of cosplaying at the con, then you should be embracing your fandom(s). You are among your nerdy brethren! I like to plan fandom shirts based on what I’m doing for the day, but you can wear what you see fit. Another tip, also if you aren’t cosplaying – wear comfy shoes. Seriously. I know your super awesome heels SEEM like a good idea, but they won’t be an hour or so in. For me? Converse all the way. Usually Batman Converse. Ooooh yeeeah.

 

Alright, that’s it for today! I’ll have more con tips and advice for you in coming posts, since I have another con to attend next month! Comment below if you found any of this info useful, if you have questions, or you have your own con tips to share!

~Angel

Saving for Travel

Inspired by posts from Sky at Sky vs World:

Saving for Travel – April Spending Freeze

Saving for Travel – September Edition

Saving For Travel – No Spend November

travel

 I get a lot of questions on how I manage all these trips I’ve been going on, and sometimes these are less intrigue than people trying to remind me I need to be saving for other things. But, more and more, I’m getting people genuinely interested in how I do it, because they want to embrace the idea of seeing more of the world. And when I was reading the new post on Sky vs World about saving, and it made me decide to post my own ways of saving for travel.

Now, the type of traveling that I am doing usually requires different types of saving methods.

When I’m preparing to travel for a Comic Con, I figure out the exact amount of money I need and keep that number in my head. Then, I will put away random amounts of money in a jar behind my computer that I regularly forget about, so unless some sort of emergency comes up – I don’t touch it. Then, the actual paycheck or two before I go, literally every cent aside from what’s needed for bills goes straight to that trip: Be it for the con itself, or for travel expenses, or whatever. Usually, I hit over my goal and have random spending money. Sometimes, I have a desperate scramble last minute because I’m a bit short. One time, I spent my taxes right after I got them back, and was both relieved and heartbroken that I did.
For other travels, I do a similar jar-behind-the-computer concept, and I have some sort of end goal amount in mind, and then write down every dollar I put in the jar and keep that log inside of it. Sometimes, I decide one month that every single $1 bill I have goes into that jar. I’ve had a lot of success with deciding to save every $5 bill that comes into my possession. I am a change hoarder, and separate dimes into one jar, quarters in one, and a huge jug for nickels and pennies (this particular jar I plan to leave alone until it’s absolutely full, then use it for whenever I move away from home for whatever expense I need.) And then, again, the paycheck or two before I leave becomes devoted to my trip aside from bills.
I also sell Scentsy products, which brings me a little extra cash I forget about every month and leave alone until I use it for trips. A few months ago, I started doing surveys on a site called InboxDollars, and was surprised it actually paid off when I made $30 from just doing surveys and random junk, and that went to my most recent Orlando trip. Plus, I’ll save any gift money, do some extra photo shoots, maybe sell some random junk I really don’t need, etc. I always find a way to make it work. (Currently, I’m saving for a con in Chicago in August.)

Of course, there will be setbacks. Birthdays, holidays, unforeseen expenses – car upkeep, medical bills, etc. But it’s still fathomable if you really focus on what you want. Travel isn’t just for millionaires – if you work hard, you can do anything you want. 🙂

~Angel