7️⃣th #NABJ in the books❗️
I can’t thank this organization enough for what it’s done for my career. These conferences are starting to feel more like a family reunion. The best reminder I get from @nabj is you’re not alone on your journey.
See y’all in DC #NABJ19 pic.twitter.com/chUy1vh2Oa
— Justin Walters (@JustinWaltersTV) August 14, 2019
We all know the routine — you try and decide whether you’re going to the NABJ convention or not. Then by the time you decide, pre-registration is over, the airfare is sky high and you don’t have enough to cover everything. So you’re at home with a huge case of FOMO, swearing you won’t miss it again.
And yes, despite some hiccups, you really did miss out by not being in Miami this year. Next year, we’re in Washington, D.C., holding a joint convention with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists on July 8-12, 2020 (note we’re a month early next year). D.C. is where NABJ was founded and we’ll be in the thick of electing our next president, so you know it will be epic.
I do this every year, but here we go again. NOW is the time to start saving to ensure that you’ll be in D.C. And like I do every year, I’m going to give you some great tips on how to have the money ready when it’s time to start paying.
We’ll be staying at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park. Unlike the Turnberry Isle Miami, Wardman Park’s basic room has two double beds, which is much more attractive for those who need roommates to save costs.
Registration – $325. This is for Early Bird. If you belong to a chapter, that drops to $275. Pre-registration is $380 and after that, it’s $550 (but you’re not going to wait that long, right?).
Hotel – NABJ is committed to keeping hotel room prices at under $200 a night, so if I were guessing, we’re looking at $179 a night before taxes. That adds up to $716 for Wednesday through Sunday. Divide this by four if you have roommates.
Airfare – I checked Southwest Airlines fares from Chicago Midway to Baltimore/Washington in March 2020, since that’s how long their schedule goes right now. it came to $312 round-trip. But because of the location, I’m sure a lot of you can drive, or take the bus or a train. And there’s also carpooling.
Transportation – You need to get from the airport/train/bus station to the hotel, which is in upper Northwest D.C. There is a Metro subway station nearby too. I always budget about $100 for this, including a ride to and from the airport and rides to downtown D.C. A Super Shuttle from BWI Airport to the host hotel will be around $50 round-trip; that same shuttle costs $31 from Washington Dulles Airport.
Convention Prep – $200. This is anything you need to do to get ready for the convention, such as clothes, business cards, resumes, hair, nails, clothing alterations, etc.
Meals/Bar – You can’t expect to get free meals every day, although I encourage you to take full advantage of breakfasts, lunches and receptions. Don’t forget that NABJ members network and socialize at the bar every day. Give yourself a food/drink budget of about $75 a day.
This all adds up to about $1,400, but your numbers may be different, depending on your travel and roommate costs. The simplest way would be to set up an account that you can’t access easily and put aside $140 a month.
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. When it comes to airfares, consider flights to BWI and Dulles airports, which tend to have cheaper fares than Washington National Airport.
Show Me the Money
So how are you going to get the money for D.C.? 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 food and drinks. 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 your own PTO.
- Buy your flight 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 association eBlasts for announcements on scholarships, fellowships and hardship grants that help cover convention costs.
- Local organizations. See if your NABJ chapter offers scholarships to help students/young journalists. Check for local businesses and nonprofits that offer grants.
- 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 2015-2020; Benet J. Wilson, Immediate Past VP-Digital, NABJ; @NABJ; @NABJDigital; @NABJSTUDENTS; and @Marlon4NABJ.
- #SideHustle or part-time job. Use the money you earn and put it into your convention bank account. And leave it alone until it’s time to pay for something.
- Carpool. If you are in driving distance of D.C., get a group together and ride together.
I have a special message for those of you in college and want to bring your chapter to D.C. My grandmother says closed mouths don’t get fed. Talk to your chapter advisor now and create a plan to pay for your convention trip. Once that’s done, go to your school’s dean and ask for financial help. Host campus fundraisers. Ask for help from professional NABJ chapters and your local community. Please don’t post a GoFundMe in the spring and expect donations. Give yourself time.
I started saving for Miami last June and for D.C. in July. I belong to a group who helps students and young journalists — who come correct — get to the NABJ convention each year. I can’t speak for my tribe, but be warned: Do NOT contact me for help if you don’t have at least two of these three things paid for — airfare, registration or hotel (I’ll need to see receipts). If you should happen to forget and come to me at the last minute for help, it’s going to be a no — and a link to this post.
So there you have it — a financial map that will help you pay for #NABJ20 in Washington, D.C. If you start now, you’ll be ready to go by July 8. Only 324 more days to go!