Do you see this? If you think Detroit was great — and it was a great as it looked in photos and on social media — you know Miami is going to be even better. So if you had FOMO about Detroit, the good news is that you have plenty of time to start saving your pennies now for Miami.
The Turnberry Isle Miami is a top Marriott property. People, it’s stunning. The basic room has two Queen beds AND a sofa bed. And students, I don’t know if you heard, but there’s going to be a special room rate just for you! Nearby is Sunny Isles Beach.
So let’s get to the point of this post — the money it will cost you to get to Miami. I started saving for Detroit last June, and did the same for Miami this year. There’s a core group of us who help students and young journalists get to convention every year. I can’t speak for everyone, but do NOT contact me for help if you don’t have at least two of these three things — airfare, registration or hotel. And if you come at me last minute for help, it’s going to be a no — and a link to this post.
I don’t know what the room rate is, but I’m guessing it will be in the $200-$230 range, so let’s use that as the number. The rest of these numbers are on the high end, because I like to plan for every contingency.
Registration – $325. This is for Early Bird. If you belong to a chapter, that drops to $275.
Hotel – $1150 for Wednesday through Sunday. Divide this by four if you have roommates.
Airfare – $500. This depends on where you’re flying from. I did a quick check of Southwest Airlines fares from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale in late February-early March, since that’s how long their schedule goes right now. it came to $499.28. But I expect that fare to drop, since August is not the high season for Miami.
Transportation – I always budget about $100 for this, including a ride to and from the airport and downtown visits. A Super Shuttle from Miami International to the host hotel will be around $24 each way; the same ride from Fort Lauderdale is about $30 one way.
Convention Prep – $200. This is anything you need to do to get ready for convention like clothes, business cards, resumes, hair, nails, clothing alterations, etc.
Meals/Bar – You can’t expect to get free meals every day. And you know you’re going to be socializing at the bar, so budget about $75 a day for this.
Ways to Pay
This all adds up to about $1700. There are ways to get this number down with creative budgeting, but let’s be real. This convention is not going to be cheap, but it can be done — if you start now.
Take advantage of the chapter discount for registration. Or consider volunteering to get a free one. That hotel cost will drop if you have roommates. The last time I had a room to myself was in 2006 in Indianapolis, my firs NABJ Convention.
When it comes to airfares, consider flights to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, which tends to have cheaper fares than Miami International Airport.
With transportation, you can share costs with others coming to Miami. You can also decide what you need — and what you don’t — for convention prep. I cut hair (I’m #TeamNatural), nails (again, #TeamNatural), business cards (if you want to find me, it’s pretty easy) and resumes (I haven’t applied for a job since 1992, plus anyone can go to my website), from my convention budget.
Meals/bar are always a big expense for me, because I don’t allow my mentees to pay when they’re with me. I know this and budget accordingly.
Show Me the Money
So how are you going to get the money for Miami? Start now! Below are 10 tips you can use to help.
- Start a savings account. Set one up on auto pay and walk away. My personal favorite is Smarty Pig because it takes out the money automatically and it’s in an account you can’t see, so you avoid temptation. Others include Digital (but it does cost $2.99 a month) Qapital and Chime.
- Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas-Kwanzaa/Graduation. Look for these and other celebratory milestones. Ask friends and family for contributions toward convention costs rather than gifts that can’t offer a return on your career future. Grandma can pay for a hotel night or two. Mom and Dad can spring for airfare. Auntie can give you a gift card you can use for incidentals. Your Uncle can take on registration.
- Early bird registration. As soon as NABJ announces this, register. Aside from the chapter affiliate discount, this is the lowest rate you’re going to get.
- Ask your employer. There are companies that have line items in their budgets for professional development. See if you can get some of that money to help pay for NABJ. Come correct; show them the convention schedule and show them the workshops you’re going to take that will help you do your job better. See if they’ll give you the time off without having to use vacation.
- Buy your airfare early. The earlier you book your flight, the cheaper the fares will be. Sign up for either Hopper or Airfarewatchdog, which will tell you the best times to buy that ticket.
- NABJ. Check the website and eBlasts for announcements on scholarships and fellowships that help cover convention costs. This year there were grants from Columbia University.
- Local organizations. See if your NABJ chapter offers scholarships to help students/young journalists.
- Facebook and Twitter. Follow accounts for convention information, including ways to fund your trip. They are: (NABJ) National Association of Black Journalists; National Association of Black Journalists; NABJ Students; Marlon A. Walker, Your NABJ Vice President/Print 2015-2018; Benet J. Wilson, Immediate Past VP-Digital, NABJ; @NABJ; @NABJDigital; @NABJSTUDENTS; and @Marlon4NABJ.
- #SideHustle or part-time job. I have a day job, but I also have two writing-related side hustles. I always put a percentage of what I earn with those into my Smarty Pig account to help pay for convention.
- Carpool. If you are in driving distance of Miami (my limit is 8 hours in a car), get a group together and ride to convention.
So there you have it — your blueprint to get to #NABJ19 in Miami. If you start now, you’ll be ready to go Aug. 7-11. Only 345 more days to go!