Bird shows are a great way to meet others that share your passion for birds. It’s also a great time with lots of socializing opportunities! You don’t, however, want to blow your budget traveling to show. That would take the fun out of it. Follow the tips below for showing your birds on the cheap.
1. Seems obvious, but … make sure the event you plan to go to is the type of event is still happening at the time and place posted. Things change, so call ahead. Also ask the show manager about the show. Is what you had in mind? Is it the right show for you? Are parrots being shown? Only canaries? Finches? There is nothing worse than making plans and spending money to attend a show only to find that the “show” does not even contain a bird show, but is simply a vendor mart. Vendor marts are a great way to find hard-to-locate bird items and speak one-on-one with vendors about the products they use and sell, but if that’s not what you’re looking for, you should know ahead of time.
2. Can you purchase your cage tags in advance? If so, this often affords you a discount. Does the event include a banquet or other grand finale? If so, can you purchase these tickets in advance for an additional discount.
3. Now, how will you get to the show? Driving there usually costs less but not always. If you plan to attend a show but not exhibit birds, crunch some numbers regarding auto versus air. After the gas, road tolls, food stops and hotel stays along the way, you may find that flying is more cost effective for you.
If you are taking birds with you, flying might cost significantly more than driving. Airlines typically charge between $100 to $200 round-trip to carry your birds in flight. (Always verify with the airline the exact costs and regulations for your type of bird, including type of travel carrier allowed.)
My preferred method of getting to a show is carpooling. This has by far been the cheapest and must fun option for me. Sharing the drive with a buddy cuts gas and lodging expenses in half, and affords you a chance to stare out the window while your friend takes the wheel from time to time. If you’re both feeling ambitious, divide the drive up, so once of you drives at night and one during the day. Now you can drive straight through the night without shelling out money for an overnight hotel stay.
Other bonuses of bringing a car to show: bringing as many birds that will safely (and sanely) fit into the car or van – and not paying out airline fees; and having a vehicle at your disposal for getting around once you reach your destination. You’ll also be able to pack all of that discounted merchandise that you buy at the vendor hall into your car, which equals more savings for you!
4. Ask about parking fees before you pull out of the driveway. Some hotels charge upward of $20 a day while others offer it free with your room. Some events might be held in a convention center that offer a day flat rate or street parking. Do the show’s organizers offer discounted parking coupons?
5. Ask the show point person if there is a special room rate or a specific hotel for exhibitors, vendors, workers, etc. Many times there is, and if you want to stay close to the venue, the special rate might make the most sense. A stay at the host hotel makes it easy to come and go from the show — it’s just a matter of hopping on the elevator or walking down a hall.
Is the discounted rate still too much? Why not look for a roommate? Your carpool buddy might work, or, if you’re attending the show on your own, is there someone else from your bird club that will be there? Can you ask the organizers if anyone else is looking to share a room?
6. Now you’ve arrived, proud of the fact that you’ve gotten there “cheaply,” can you continue to save? It pains me to pay the hotel gift shop’s inflated prices, so I often pack staples such as bottled water, granola bars and other snacks
Ask the concierge for budget restaurants that are nearby? Does the hotel run a free shuttle to any of them?
If you’re showing birds, bring your own seed or other food for the bottoms of the show cages. I once arrived at a show a day early and had forgotten my seed. I had to go to a local pet store and pay a lot of money for a few small bags. Needless to say I have not forgotten since that time.