Emergency Services Conferences are a great place to network, attend educational lectures and workshops, and see what new products are available on the market. They’re a fun place to gather with people in your field, and serve as a mini vacation from the day-to-day. The conference fees, travel and lodging can add up, though. Here, conference scholarships and savings opportunities plus cheap lodging and travel tips for Emergency Services Conferences from the pros…
Scholarships, You Say?
Almost all conferences offer some sort of scholarship. For your state specific conference, check their website. If you don’t see a posting, don’t be afraid to email the conference chair under the “contact” page and ask. They can likely point you in the right direction.
EMS World Expo nominations open in the Spring for the Roger G. Nixon Scholarship.
Most scholarship applications have an essay. Do not fear! Be yourself and be honest about why you want to attend. Let them know what you hope to learn and how you hope to use this knowledge. You can find great advice on writing a good scholarship essay from Greg Friese at Everyday EMS Tips.
If scholarships aren’t your thing, or you’ve missed the deadline to apply, don’t worry, there are other ways to save money.
Many conferences have “early bird specials” that offer a percentage off the total price for early registration.
Consider volunteering to help work at the conference. It takes many people to make a conference run smoothly, and often there are many opportunities for you to offer your services. Call the conference organizers (check the website for the appropriate contact person) and ask if you may attend the conference in exchange for lending a helping hand.
Where to Stay
There are usually hotel deals associated with the conference, so make sure that if you choose that hotel you book through the conference site to insure the best price. There may be hotels close by for less money, so keep your eye out. Remember you want to be within walking distance, if possible, to avoid paying for transportation to and from the conference venue.
If you are adventurous, you can always look for a free place to crash though the online community site Couch Surfing which offers you a chance to stay with a local. Similar sites include Global Freeloaders and Hospitality Club. You may be expected to reciprocate, though, so make sure that you are willing to host guests at some point after you get home.
Consider carpooling with others from your area to save on gas. If you don’t know anyone who’s going, consider signing up for a service like eRideShare which can connect you with others going to the same place you are. Also, you won’t have to check bags.
Don’t want to drive? Check Greyhound’s website for web only fares, advance purchase up to 50% off, and their friends and family plan – buy one full price fare and get up to three companion fares 50% off.
If you want to fly, keep up to date on flight deals with a travel site like Priceline, Expedia or Travelocity. Or use the discount travel site Kayak.com to search available flights, carriers, and deals across many of the deal sites at once.
Sign up for Smarter Travel, tell them where and when you want to do and they’ll email you the best deals as they come
I’ve Got the Wheels, Now How About my Meals?
To save money on meals, bring your own food in a cooler (if you are driving), or hit the local grocery store and stock up on food. These days most hotel rooms have a mini fridge in them, making it easier to shop and eat cheaply. Save your snacks from the plane (and the free peanuts, if you got any) until you get hungry.
Some conferences and hotels offer free coffee and continental breakfast to conference goers, so be sure to check and see if yours does.
Apps such as Yelp can find you restaurants by price, type, and review. If you are looking to try a particular restaurant, go for lunch instead of dinner for a cheaper meal. Pick the local place around the corner over the touristy one with the water view and you’re sure to save some money.
No matter how you get to the conference, make sure to take advantage of everything once you do. The opportunities to learn, network, and meet people with similar interests are never-ending.
Solution: With a little elbow grease (check the websites, make some phones calls, make a plan) and you can go to a conference on the cheap.