Yesterday we spoke about optimal packing for a travel gaming experience. There are scenarios where space isn’t just limited to the overheard bin or costing $50 for each bag beyond the first the agent checks-in. Today, we look at the adaptation of a great American tradition, the Road Trip, and specifically how a gaming road trip can (and can’t) work for you.
The Gaming Roadtrip: Pros
There a lot of great reasons to engage a road trip over other modes of transport to a convention. Depending on the size of group that is going to the event, it may be the obvious or only way to travel. Here are a few:
- Relatively Fixed Cost – While increased weight will reduce mileage efficiency slightly, more or less gas costs are going to be similar for 1 to 5 people. Websites like www.distance-cities.com will even calculate anticipated gas costs for the trip and give you relative math to cost value airfare versus road trip. As a car fills the economics generally swing in favor of the open road (if you are leaving time out of the equation…).
- Packing Space – Even four people would have difficulty packing the same volume they could in a car without paying to check something extra in an airport. Awkward gaming paraphenalia, plastic bags and other TSA-challenging materials can be easily managed in a car.
- Comfort – Sadly, most airlines are progressively LESS concerned with comfort for passengers. Most intra-continental flights are relatively short, but still can be far less comfortable than a well-planned car trip. If your group has any size-enabled members, you might be witness to surprise seat charges, discrimination or rude fellow travelers.
- Logistic Control – You leave when you leave, you stop when you want to, and generally have far more independence. Retaining the car at your destination also means going where and when you want to if you have siteseeing or foodie interests in your group. If you have to leave early for some reason, you can.
- Social Environment – Probably the most important reason to consider a road trip is the social factor. You can pre-geek and get excited for the Con. You practice character voices or workout backstories for Organized Play, you can filk or play “20 questions: Bestiary Edition.” You can start your Con fun early in ways you could never dream of on a plane.
Challenges of the Gaming Road Trip
With a clear view of the reasons TO take your convention trip on the road, a realistic look at challenges is probably in order. Arming yourself with the realities of the road trip are ke to enjoying the experience. For your consideration:
- Travel Time – Reality is for some people time is money. The cost value of the road trip can substantially alter if the time on the road “isn’t worth it.” What this means to people is highly variable. Make sure that the trip itself has value and fun before committing.
- Logistics – Who is driving? Who can take turns? What seating arrangements are there? When do you meet? Where? Have these answers BEFORE the trip starts. Nothing is more terrible than starting a Con trip off with a huge fight with people you are about to be trapped in a room with.
- Preferences – Similarly know the preferences of the trip. If it is the driver’s “my way or the highway” for music, audiobooks or radioshows, the rest of the group should know that. Being held hostage to country music or a comedian whose style you don’t like isn’t going to brew a convention grok that is going to work well.
- Expenses – Have this division planned out and WELL communicated. If you can’t afford something be direct about it. Everyone has ups and downs with resources there is no shame in admitting that it isn’t feasible to engage an activity or cost. Sometimes people might even surprise you with their generosity but are more likely to smile about it if it is a surprise.
- The Ripchord – If you have a way out, some people may seek to use it. The option to leave a Con early often prevents people from experiencing the totality of the event. USUALLY the commitment of room costs and event tickets is enough to anchor people.
- Filling the Void – If you have room, a lot of gamers will be tempted to fill it. In smaller groups with larger cars this can lead to unusual packing decisions and other strangeness. We have seen terrain, miniatures trays, painting stations, and desktop computers be wedge into the overabundance space in gaming caravans.
A well-executed road trip can be an awesome preamble to an amazing con experience. While it isn’t a decision to make lightly, it can be the choice to enjoy the most cost-effective, free-willed and geekiest of Convention trips. See you at PaizoCon!