If you’re a poor geek like me, you need to save money for a Comic Con.
Comic Cons are so much more expensive than they used to be! Back in the day, if you were willing to wait in line for hours, you could see whoever you wanted for free. Even get an autograph! I waited in line for hours and hours at Wizard World Philly, Gen Con and other places to hear Kevin Smith speak and to get an autograph from James Marsters, among others.
I love cons, but they can burn a whole in your wallet.
For instance, let’s say Wizard World is hosting a convention in big city near you. Your favorite star will be a guest and you’ve bought your ticket. But maybe your budget is tight and you want to know how to save money for a Comic Con extras, like autographs, cool merch or virtual reality experiences. Or just food! You want to buy more than just your ticket and gasoline.
I’ve got some tips and tricks for how to save money for a Comic Con, or any other fan convention.
I’ve learned that planning ahead is the best way to save money for a Comic Con. One of the most useful tools to stretch your travel dollars is Groupon Coupons.
No self-respecting fan would arrive at a convention in just any old outfit. Lots of fans enjoy cosplay — dressing up in costume as your favorite character — but if you don’t have the time or the gumption for cosplay, you can still advertise your fandom in other ways.
Take advantage of the Hot Topic Groupon Coupons or shop their clearance section for deep discounts. Hot Topic has a huge selection of t-shirts, dresses, tanks, hair bands and accessories from Harry Potter to Marvel to Adventure Time. Save money for a Comic Con by ordering more than one item at a time. That way, you pay less per item for shipping.
See also: Best Stores Online for Cosplay
Start a Collection
When you’re a fan of pop culture, you want to surround yourself with things that will make you feel connected to whatever you’re obsessing about. Whether you collect action figures, Funko Pop! Vinyls, banners, artwork or housewares, Entertainment Earth has everything you’re looking for.
Entertainment Earth carries merchandise for big fandoms, like Star Wars, and smaller ones, like The Venture Bros. After you start your collection, you can talk it up at the convention, and maybe even bring small items to trade or show off. To save money for a Comic Con, check out the Groupon coupons for Entertainment Earth’s great gifts under $25 or get free shipping on specific collectibles and pre-orders.
I’ve learned the hard way that if I want to save money for a Comic Con, I need to plan ahead where I’m going to eat. Sure, the convention will have vendors selling food, but it’s usually way over-priced junk food.
First, I scope out a few restaurants that are within walking distance from the convention by using Yelp or TripAdvisor. Then I visit Groupon’s restaurant coupon page to see if any of those restaurants are offering deals. Whether you’re looking for something quick, like at Panera, or a sit-down meal, like at Romano’s Macaroni Grill, nabbing a Groupon Coupon before you go will get you more food for your money. Who doesn’t want to a half-off dinner?
See the Sights
Every convention has plenty to do, but if the fluorescent lighting and the noise in the big hall starts to get to you, venture outside the convention center to see what else the city has to offer.
The events page at Groupon Coupons has great deals on big attractions, like Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Madame Tussauds.
If you’re in Orlando for the big Star Wars or Harry Potter celebrations, use Best of Orlando to compare prices on attractions and theme parks. Never pay full price for those crazy expensive parks!
Spend the Night
I’ve also figured out that one day at a Comic Con is not enough. I started booking hotel rooms when I got to Comic Cons so I can see more stars over the weekend. (The biggest and best celebrity events are usually on Saturday.)
Groupon always has a hotel coupon that will slash your costs. The Groupon for Hotels.com, in particular, has a sale that lets you save about 50% off hotels worldwide.
However, if you ran out of time and you need a hotel room right now, HotelWiz.com has great deals on last minute bookings for hotels in most cities.
When you use Groupon Coupons and other cost-saving websites to save money for a Comic Con, you’ll pat yourself on the back for all the do-re-mi you saved. It makes going to Comic Cons a lot less painful. Plus, the more money you save this time, the more money you’ll have to buy a ticket for a future convention.