First of all, if you're thinking of going into business, but you can't afford to invest in the planning (including the once-in-a-year DevCon), then you can't afford to go into business right now.
That being said, it's the content that matters first and foremost, so you're better off saving as much dough as you can by keeping your travel costs as low as you can stand. This includes looking at a hostel instead of a 4-star hotel, or even a Motel 6 or Red Roof Inn. You only need a place to sleep and shower. Compare costs of staying out further with the increased costs of commuting to and from the conference center.
Also, bring a wheel-along that you can take your own food and drink (insulated against damaging electronics!), as the costs for food and drinks will be staggering. Of course, with most of the conference sessions, the water is free, but stay away from alcholic beverages, as they will also be expensive. You can get a 6-pack to cool of in your motel room for less than one beer at these events!
There's no emabrassment in staying off-site — I've always done it to save hundreds, and the experience is no less than having stayed on-site. The embarassment would only come after the conference — for not having gone at all.
Oh, you'll also get a copy of FileMaker Pro Advanced with your paid attendance, and they've always served breakfast and lunch for most days as well (no extra cost). Use the DevCon 2014 FileMaekr app to plan out every hour of your day, and consider attending sessions that won't be videotaped, since you'll get access to those about a month or two after the conference (I wish that wasn't so long, BTW).
Hope you'll find a way to make the investment in yourself by attending DevCon.
- - Scott
We stayed off-site in Miami two years back, but within walking distance of the Fontainbleau, which made where we stayed pretty much irrelevant. Our hotel was occupied by a few hundred Venezuelan schoolkids wearing Disney shirts, which lent an absurdist feel to elevator rides.
If you don't travel with your wife, look into a room share. You can advertise here in this forum, I think. That's definitely been done in the past.
Finally: see if you can justify the cost to your employer. FileMaker has a sample ROI letter you can use to make your case:
I stayed offsite at San Diego one of the two years since it was sold out (suites only, which I could not afford) by the time I had confirmed to go. It was a bit of a hassle, but I coerced the bellman into holding bags and such for me throughout the weekend so I could enjoy myself without a backpack in the evenings. The overflow hotel though was within walking distance in the adjacent gas lamp district, and made for some nice late night watering hole finds.
There is like *nothing* within walking distance of this hotel. So a rental car is a must. Aside from having to wake up an extra half hour early or so and being dependant on getting picked up, there really isn't much of a downside apart from not having a "quiet zone" and private bathroom to use during the day.
Room sharing can greatly defer costs, as advised by Colin above, if the wife drops out of the trip due to costs.
Since you're rolling in a family vacation to the trip as well, you should deduct those expenses, and ask your employer to pick up the difference.
Thank you all for the input!
As noted in my OP, FMP is a small part of my current job… DevCon might be a springboard to a new career for me. That combined with the general attitude of my current boss when it comes to spending/investing in technology means that there is no way that my boss is going to pay for this. This will be paid by me, if it happens. Even it I can write if off for my (currently non-existent) business, there is still a cost.
The lack of walking-distance options is what promted my question.
A few miles + San Antonio + July ≠ my fat self walking.
My wife's mother is retired from Delta, so my wife can fly herself anywhere for dirt cheap. Me, not so much. So adding her on to the trip doesn't add that much cost for us.
Anyway, lots of possible factors. Thank you for the input.
If it’s a career you’re after, then devcon is the place. I speak from personal experience of paying my own way last year, and starting a new job last September.
You need to account the “networking” value in there as well, in addition to the learning experience.
Invest in yourself!