From the famed ski slopes of Whistler to the roaring majesty of Niagara Falls, some the world's greatest travel destinations are just north of the border, in Canada.
With an overload of Canada travel options, which of these destinations are most popular among travelers? Hipmunk analyzed its travel data from 2015 to find out.
The 25 cities below make up 80 percent of all hotel accommodations in Canada. We also included their average hotel and Airbnb booking prices, as well as average airfare (if flying from the US or within Canada) to each city. Note: all prices are in US dollars.
Straddling the border between New York and Canada, Niagara Falls takes the cake as the most popular Canadian city for tourists. The city's world-famous waterfalls — which flow at a rate of six million cubic feet of water per minute — attract some 12 million visitors every year and commands 16 percent of all Canada city searches on Hipmunk. Just north of Niagara Falls, Toronto closely trails in second, garnering nearly 15 percent of total Canada hotel search volume.
At an average of $194 per night, Whistler has the most expensive hotels of any Canadian tourist destination. Following closely are Mont-Tremblant ($177) and Banff ($172). Each of these destinations is known for its ski slopes in the winter and hiking in the summer.
It's important to note that these hotel prices can vary tremendously depending on the season. As a general rule, most cities are more affordable during winter months (when it's very cold) than in the summer months, when weather is more amenable. Below, we've broken down these hotel prices by season.
Ski resorts seem to be a notable exception to this rule. In Whistler, for example, hotels are nearly $100 more more night during the winter than in the summer!
Search Whistler Hotels
Over course, if you're planning to visit any of these locations, hotels won't be your only cost: you'll have to fly there as well. Typically, flights into most major airports in these regions range between $350 and $420.
In general, flights to Canada's easternmost popular cities seem to be a bit more expensive than those on the western coast. Like hotel rates, flight prices are seasonal: in the warm summer months, flights cost slightly in the summer than they do in the winter.
Now that we have laid out hotel and flight costs, let's compile this into one handy total expense chart. For the purpose of this calculation, let's assume the trip is for two people (two flights) who are sharing one hotel room for three nights.
Whistler comes out on top again. With $194 per night average hotel rooms, and flights that average $372, Canada's premier ski destination is not particularly cheap. It's a wonderful city to visit year-round, and its prices reflect that.
Cities that experience more brutal winters (Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary) seem to be on the cheaper end (though this rule doesn't hold 100 percent true).
Last, just in case you're interested in finding the best deal for any city on this list, we've broken down these prices by month. Let's take a look at the median hotel price and median flight price into each of these cities throughout all of 2015. Are there any opportunities to save money by going during “almost” peak season?
Below, we've listed the price of the a flight plus three nights in a hotel room by month. We've highlighted some of the months that are almost at peak season where you can get an especially good deal.
*Not enough monthly data to determine Montcon or Windsor
And so travelers, now you have all the data you need to find a great deal on practicing your French skills in Montreal, hiking in Whistler, or carving fresh powder in Banff. Happy travels!
Methodology: Hipmunk analyzed its daily median booking prices for Canadian hotels, Airbnbs, and airfare (arriving to Canada from the US or within Canada) in 2015 to determine average prices.
This post was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on March 3rd.
Make some late summer or early trip plans to explore Amarillo, McAllen or Irving, Texas or skip over the ocean to Puerto Rico for an adventurous time in Fajardo.
Start planning the perfect fall trip to Amarillo. This time of year brings much more mild temperatures in the Panhandle town. Driving on Route 66, horseback riding, and visiting the Texas Air and Space Museum are just a few activities to get you started in this exciting city. If you plan ahead far enough, you can score a great Airbnb location. But if that's not your thing Amarillo has traditional luxury hotels and a smattering of cheap hotels. Fifth Season Inn has pretty good ratings and is consistently under $50 a night. Even the Marriott is under $100 per night.
The Mustangs of Las Colinas by wonders of back roads via Trover
If visiting Cowboy stadium is on your list, consider staying at Irving instead of Dallas for a more affordable trip. Spend a day watching football and stay a while to explore Irving; don't miss the plethora of outdoor activities along with the sites and landmarks like the Mustangs of Las Colinas. The Hotel Las Colinas is centrally located and has a pool to cool off. Plus, they've got a free cancellation policy, if needed.
Unless you're a big bird watcher, chances are you haven't heard of McAllen, Texas. The most popular stop is Quinta Mazatlan, a bird and nature center located in an old historic mansion. You'll find other family-friendly activities around town in their malls, golf courses, and more. The Best Western Garden Inn & Suites along with many other budget hotels run around $50 or $80 per night.
It's not hard to find a great hotel deal in Round Rock, Texas. Most good-to-great rated hotels will run you between $75 and $100/night. The Austin Marriott North ranks top of the list, boasting amenities like spas, pools, a business center, and child activities. When you're out and about the city, experience Flix BrewHouse, America's first cinema brewery, or take the kids to the Play for All park for a memorable day in the sun.
Puerto Rican beach vacations are often overshadowed by California, Hawaii, and Mexico for most Americans. But what most travelers don't know is that visiting a city like Fajardo, on the Eastern side of the island, is completely affordable and luxurious. Visitors most memorable experiences are full of beauty and adventure: kayak along Bioluminescent Bay, explore Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve (day or night), or ride horseback on the beach. Airbnbs are a great option for large groups and families. But even the local Waldorf Astoria hotel is around $200/night.
This post was originally published on Project Domestication by Becky on June 15th.
Disclosure: Thank you for supporting posts like this with partners I believe in and who allow me to pursue creative content for this blog. I am currently writing for Hipmunk, and would love for you to check out their helpful site and articles! They have great resources for traveling domestically and abroad.
Many vacationers in the United States head south during the summer months to the most southeastern state of Florida. Florida offers many exciting attractions to offer tourists during all parts of the year. With mild winters and sunny summers it's no wonder it's called "The Sunshine State." If you want to spend some days chilling out in the sun and getting a tan, here are some good recommendations for laid back hotels.
Panama City is a great place to base yourself for family and college spring breaks. Panama City Beach, or "PCB" as young party goers like to call it is adjacent to Panama City. Panama City Beach is a stone throw away from Panama City and provides vacationers with amazing beaches. For the younger crowd, there are a countless number of beach bars and clubs located on the strip. If partying and drinking the day away is not your thing, try heading into the heart of Panama City and strolling around St. Andrews State Park for some peaceful time with nature.
Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, Fort Myers provides visitors with fantastic beaches, surreal sunsets, and clear water. Known as a family destination, many visitors will flock here during spring break and the summer months to watch the waves roll in and listen to the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean To break away from the crowds head to the less populated Lovers Key State Park, located on Lover's Key. However, expect many honeymoon lover's on this white sand beach.
Image via Flickr by Matthew Straubmuller
The sunny state's largest city has plenty of places to relax at. The city has a large bustling city center that will be sure to entertain visitors, but the cities largest appeal are the barrier islands and beaches one can chill out on. The first of the islands one should head to would be Amelia Island. If you're looking to splash out and chill on a beautiful Florida beach then look no further than Fernandina Beach.
Gainesville is home to the Florida Gators or the University of Florida. If you're headed here you're likely ready to catch America's greatest sport, at one of it's best institutions for college football. There are numerous hotels to chill out here after all the day at the stadium or the something a little more relaxing such as the Butterfly Rainforest. Butterfly Forest features hundreds of different species of butterflies that is sure to impress anyone and make for a great escape.
So you have spent all your time in Florida and getting ready to pack up your vacation? A great place to get a real taste of the Southern United States is Bossier City, Lousiana. Bossier City is in the northwestern part of the state and is home to over 62,000 residents. Visitors can promenade along the Red River and pick a good hotel to set base at while exploring the Barksdale Air Force Base followed by a night of fun in one of the cities four riverboat casinos.
This post was originally published on The World Pursuit on June 11th, 2016 by Cameron and Natasha.
When planning family trips, it's best to keep kids busy with activities from crafting and music lessons to hiking and swimming. (No one wants to hear, "Mom, I'm bored" while lounging beach side with a cocktail in hand.)
Travel is one of the most fun ways for a parent to share the cultures and natural wonders of the world. These destinations are safe for kiddos, catering to the picky eaters, adrenaline junkies, nature lovers, and beach bums too. Not only will kids be welcome, they'll find programs and excursions designed just for them on each of these global adventures.
While it may sound like a lazy beach vacay, this beautiful resort is on one of Hawaii's most exciting islands – and one of the world's top resorts for families. The resort offers tons of kid-friendly activities (think ukulele lessons and lei making) in-house. But families can also find breathtaking hikes, ziplines for the token daredevil, horseback riding and kayaking to name a few. For something more low key, splash in a two-tiered pool or the saltwater lagoon that meanders through the hotel's property. By nightfall, kids will definitely be ready to crash.
For the boy (and girl) scouts who are looking for a back-to-nature experience, this Thai getaway won't disappoint. Thailand is one of Asia's best destinations for kids. With a drive and boat ride to this hotel, they may start to feel a bit like Mowgli in The Jungle Book. Bamboo guest rooms float on top of the River Kwai and offer visitors a taste of Mon culture. It's a bit rustic (as in there are wick lamps instead of electricity. But don't worry, in-room bathrooms are a part of the deal). Kids love exploring the nearby jungles atop of a gentle elephant, or visiting natural wonders such as the Lawa Cave or the Sai Yok Waterfall. Get a few thrills without leaving River Kwai by river jumping or bamboo rafting — something to excite even the most adrenaline-seeking tweens.
Nicaragua makes for an affordable, and adventure-filled, Central American trip (and many parents are choosing it over the equally kid-friendly Costa Rica). Visitors won't see nearly as many expats and will get a great taste of the local culture, plus tons of hiking and swimming! In a bungalow at Morgan's Rock, guests are nestled in the treetops and have easy beach access. One of the more exciting excursions to make is to Ometepe Island, formed by two volcanoes, which can be reached by ferry. Explore ancient rock art and petroglyphs and brave the hike up the dormant Maderas Volcano. Parents will appreciate the beaches known for waves that are safe for first-time surfers, zip-line excursions, and an insider look at the lodge's sustainable farm where kids get to collect farm eggs and milk the cows for an awesome family breakfast!
A trip to the Great Barrier Reef is an incomparable adventure. While a flight to the Aussie coast may not be ideal for many faraway travelers with tiny tots, the experiences offered through resorts like One&Only can change a nervous parent's mind. If your bucket list includes snorkelling, sailing, kayaking, water skiing or a helicopter adventure above the reef (which is the largest living thing on Earth, mind you), then book a few tickets to Hayman Island. Of course One&Only also offers an entirely kid-centric program called KidsOnly full of excursions and meals from 9am to 6pm if parents need a break.
Camping and cruising may appeal to families that seek adventure on-the-go. Many of these trips welcome first-time campers and those who are especially interested in learning the lay of the land, whether that's in sunny California or rugged Maine. Nature lovers, budding botanists and eager explorers will get animal interactions, sparkling night skies and a new set of skills when signing up for one of these trips.
For North Easterners, this trip will make an exciting escape from the bustling city, but any visitors will be in awe of the natural beauty of the Appalachian Trail. Eager hikers can find programs like the Appalachian Mountain Club's Family Camps, which take families with kids as young as five years old around New Hampshire and Maine, near beautiful mountains and full of sleepaway camp-style fun. Expect canoeing, fishing, stream exploration and a classic campfire sing-a-long.
While this isn't exactly a family vacation, road trip style, there is so much kids can learn by a trip to this incredible archipelago. National Geographic is one of the few to organize a cruise to these islands near South America that is geared specifically at budding scientific minds. In the day, kids can snorkel in crystal blue waters and hike the shores among animals like giant tortoises and sea lions, all of which are completely unphased by the presence of humans. Parents will leave with zoologists and nature photographers on their hands.
This is a fabulous spot to dive into the world of camping as a family for the first time. Whether you're interested in nesting up in an unassuming lodge or setting up a tent under the stars, a trip to this natural Cali beauty guarantees great views and swimming. Several programs like Orange Torpedo and Oars set up multi-day whitewater rafting ventures, but there are hikes to take and plenty of beach lounging to be done as well. On Orange Torpedo's Klamath River Wild and Scenic trip, kids will get to swim in warm water and calm side creeks (the rapid on this trip is exciting, but never dangerous) and the guides will introduce anyone from five years old to the basics of both rafting and camping. These trips can also be as short as two or three days, ideal for any locals or those not wanting to commit to any extensive travel with kids.
This post was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on July 19th.
The beauty of the U.S. mountain states lies in their diversity. Imagine climbing some of the highest mountains in the country or driving through a wide expanse of desert lands — or hiking through beautiful canyons and jumping into a blue lagoon. You'll fall in love with the beauty. Here are some destinations in both the northwest and southwest regions of the mountain states.
Flagstaff is a city graced with diverse landscapes: picturesque deserts, serene mountains, and pine forests. It is the entry point for your Humphrey's Peak adventure and the Grand Canyon. Alternative destinations are the Wupatki National Monument and the Walnut Canyon National Museum, where you can immerse yourself in the rich history of the area. Finding great hotels in Flagstaff should be the least of your concern. At DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Flagstaff, your comfortable bed ensures a sound sleep. Plus, you'll get a complimentary cookie upon check-in.
For a city, there is none more geographically gifted than Salt Lake City, which lies between the Wasatch mountain ranges and Great Salt Lake. You can explore the nearby Canyonlands National Park to explore. Take in the buttes designed by the Colorado River. If you prefer knowing the city more, check the architecture of Temple Square, the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and in Utah State Capitol, to name just three. If you're on a budget, you can find cheap Salt Lake City hotels. For its strategic location, Residence Inn by Marriott Salt Lake City – Downtown makes everything within reach and is affordable.
Situated in southwestern Utah, Saint George is near the border between Utah and Arizona, making it an ideal location for travelers who have long road trips in mind. Trek through Snow Canyon Park, and wait for the gorgeous sunset. Visit Sand Hollow State Park, the Mojave Desert, or the Pine Valley Mountains. You can easily find affordable hotels in Saint George. For example, The INN at Saint George offers great comfort for a very reasonable price.
Hearing the name Glenwood Springs may make you think of the huge Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. Imagine dipping your tired body in welcoming warm water. It's an instant cure for your sore muscles after a day of hiking around the Hanging Lake Trail or enjoying Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. If you're looking for upscale Glenwood Springs hotels, try The Hotel Denver, situated near the train station. This hotel provides great breakfast choices, and its rooms are elegant and comfortable.
Billings, the largest Montana city, is not nicknamed the Magic City for nothing. The name came from the city's rapid growth, and Billings continues to grow. For leisure and business travelers alike, there are many things to do here. Pictograph Cave State Park and the Rimrocks appeal to the adventurous, while the Western Heritage Center and the Yellowstone Country Museum interest the history lovers. If you're looking for Billings hotels that fuse the historical and the exciting, the Northern Hotel may be the perfect place for you.
Mountain state destinations are among the most exciting in the U.S. So go ahead and pack so you can find your own adventure.
Featured photo by Annette Kirk via trover.com
This post was originally published on Backpacking With a Book by Jona.
As a travel expert, TV host, and writer, Brandon Presser is no stranger to life on the go. Presser, who has visited more than 100 countries, has penned over 50 travel books, and is a regular contributor for such publications as Afar, Travel + Leisure, The Daily Beast, and National Geographic Traveler. And while he may be well known in the travel industry, he's about to experience a whole new level of recognition: Presser is the lead host of Bravo TV's new travel-based reality show, “Tour Group“, which tags along as 11 travelers search for the ultimate vacation. (10 p.m. EST/PST on Bravo.) We got Presser to stay in one place long enough to give us his best travel advice, his favorite places to go, and the items he can't leave home without.
Hipmunk: So, tell us. What's in your carry-on?
Brandon Presser: A dopp kit with some small essentials like eye drops, moisturizer, a travel toothbrush, Advil, and Ursa Major face towelettes; a small pouch with some lucky charms (a few pebbles I've collected from different beaches around the world–I'm a little superstitious!); a good book (that I never finish); an iPad fully loaded with some of my favorite movies; Bose headphones; and Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Granola Bars.
H: Carry on bag of choice?
BP: If I'm hauling some serious carry-on luggage and want the flexibility of bringing more things home, I go for the Dakine Over Under bag, which can grow and shrink in size. For quick trips I'm obsessed with Fjallraven's safari duffle.
H: How often do you travel?
BP: I'll travel through roughly 15 countries a year, which has me on one or two large trips a month. Last year's highlights included everything from Tahiti to Portugal, and leading 11 strangers on a world tour through Africa and Asia while making “Tour Group.”
H: First, business class or coach?
BP: Each travel project I work on has different travel parameters–sometimes I'm in coach, other times I'm in first. I can tell you that it's super hard to do a long-haul flight at the back of the plane after being treated to the flat beds up front.
H: Ok, now that we're warmed up, let's play a game of favorites. Favorite city to visit for work? Why?
BP: Tokyo is the best canvas for my work–whether it's researching and writing articles and guidebooks or leading travelers through the incredible neighborhoods. The city is an endless well of oddities and curious fads. (Read Brendon's articles on Tokyo's oddities and fads here and here, respectively).
H: Favorite city for play? Why?
BP: Luckily, my work life and play life are closely intertwined. And Tokyo never stops inspiring me to get out there and explore with its thousands of cool restaurants, bars, shops and public spaces.
H: Favorite hotels?
BP: I've stayed in more than 2,500 hotels worldwide, so this is definitely a tricky one to answer. In the last 12 months some of my hotel highlights have included: Four Seasons Bora Bora, Twin Farms in Vermont, and Roch Castle in Wales.
H: Favorite airline? Airport? Airport Terminal?
BP: I'm really loving JetBlue's newest aircrafts right now–the entertainment system is bigger and better than ever, the coach seats really aren't bad, and there's an endless supply of snacks. Portland's PDX wins domestically for making a promise to its traveler to not price gauge on snacks and supplies. And Hong Kong wins internationally for Cathay Pacific's awesome business class lounge with delicious food and state-of-the-art shower facilities.
H: Any travel tips before you take off?
BP: Change your place; change your luck.
This post was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by Kelly Soderlund on March 4th, 2016.
Some time ago, we posted a list of 16 must-see places before you die—or, in other words, an ideal travel bucket list. But while it can take a lot of time, money and effort to check these places off, it's also never a bad idea to add a few more destinations to the list. You might live to be 100, but you're not going to see too much of the world. That's just not really possible!
So here are five more must-see places to include in your plans.
Often mysteriously ignored as one of the world's most incredible sights, Cambodia's Angkor Wat is an ancient temple of the Khmer Empire that at one point lorded over a vast portion of Asia. Although, as Nomadic Matt points out, it's not a lone tourism destination. That site offers detailed travel tips for a huge range of places all over the world, and notes that there are several temples in the area worth visiting. But the chance to tour Angkor Wat in particular is breathtaking. It's a massive, ornate temple built into a jungle landscape, and you can actually take a tour through it, rather than simply look at it from afar. The article from Nomadic Matt also mentions that a nicer hotel room in Siem Reap, the closest major city, will only cost about 50,000 KHR, or roughly $12 per night.
As far as travel destinations go, the U.S. is known largely for its big cities and fun beaches. Too often the beauty of the country, particularly in the western and northwestern regions, is ignored. And nothing exemplifies that beauty quite like Lake Tahoe. Known for some of the best skiing in the U.S. and as a pristine natural getaway during the rest of the year, it truly is a stunning place to visit. Accommodations are expensive pretty much across the board, but no matter when you go it's a trip you won't forget.
The Taj Mahal is frequently mentioned as a bucket list destination, though it didn't make our last write-up. It's recognized all over the world as a stunning feat of architecture—but it's more than a fancy building. Lottoland's hub for the EuroMillions lottery recently wrote up its own bucket list travel article, and pointed out that the Taj Mahal is actually a tomb (whereas many might assume it's a palace). The construction was completed by Shah Jahan in the 1630s to honor his wife. Now, it stands as one of the true wonders of the world, and a must-see stop on any trip to India.
Simply put, an African safari is one of the most incredible experiences you can have while traveling. You'll encounter gorgeous landscapes and fascinating wild animals, and ultimately feel a sense of both peace and adventure that's difficult to find anywhere else. Different countries and national parks throughout Africa provide different sights, but with a little bit of research into the country's best safari destinations, you can likely find something that appeals to you. Sometimes that might mean a traditional safari with a chance at seeing all kinds of animals; sometimes it means a trek to observe a specific type of primate; and sometimes it may even mean a river cruise where you'll spot crocodiles, hippos, and elephants cooling off.
Iceland has been mentioned so often as an up-and-coming travel destination in recent years that it's hard to imagine it being underrated any longer. The word is out about Iceland. So if you like the idea of a northern Atlantic island getaway, but you prefer someplace off the beaten path, you should probably check out the Faroe Islands. Located almost exactly at the midpoint between the UK, Iceland, and Norway, these beautiful little islands are more accessible than they might sound. Rugged coastal areas, winding roads, and gorgeous seaside (and lakeside) views pretty much set the tone for a vacation focused on hiking and sightseeing, though the islands are also known for their own cuisines, as well as occasional events like music festivals.
Arkansas and Alabama are two of the most naturally beautiful States in America, so it comes as no surprise that outdoor adventurers flock here from every corner of the globe.
With plenty of adventure on offer in the sky, on the water, and on land, you'll never be bored with a trip to one of the following southern destinations. This is a list of epic adventures in Alabama and Arkansas: the Gulf Shores, Mobile, Huntsville, and more.
There are plenty of options for adventure in Alabama's Gulf Shores, and those who love spending time on the water are in for a treat. Adventure here ranges from dolphin cruises to chartered fishing trips, and there are boat rentals available for those excited about exploring the Gulf of Mexico and the back bays.
Prefer a land-based adventure? Try the Historic Fort Morgan or the zipline course at Gulf State Park. Gulf Shores is a resort community, so hotels here are very close to each of the above attractions.
Photo by The Pug Father
Mobile was selected by National Geographic as one of America's 100 best adventure towns, and the options here won't disappoint. This is a historic port city that serious fishers and shipwreck explorers will absolutely love. Kayakers and hikers revel in old Native American shell mounts, and many travel here to charter sailboats in the Gulf of Mexico for deep-sea fishing.
The best part about an adventure holiday in Mobile is the cheap lodging. Book at the Hampton Inn Mobile/Bellingrath Gardens for rooms starting at $100 per night.
Hunstville is a fantastic destination for outdoor adventure, offering Alabama's very best trails for hiking, cycling, trail running, climbing, mountain biking, paddling, and more. Whether you're aiming for a quick excursion or a multi-day adventure, Huntsville has a lot to offer.
For the best climbing, head to Jamestown. For the best paddling, head to the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Head to Monte Sano State Park for scenic trail running.
Huntsville is a picturesque place, so be sure to book a hotel with a good view.
While known for its naturally hot springs, Hot Springs Village is a great opportunity to try ziplining in Arkansas, and many different packages are available, from the original canopy zip tour to a full moon zip and even a haunted forest tour.
The full moon tour is particularly adventurous. Once a month, travelers gather for the thrill of zipping through a dark forest! Arriving at dusk, you will harness up and get ready to soar through the night-time sky.
Photo by edwardotis
For those looking for some extreme adventure, Little Rock has you covered. If you enjoy the sensation of free-falling, try skydiving, parachuting, hang gliding, or a range of other aerial sports. There is no better way to take in the breathtaking panoramic view of Arkansas than with a bird's-eye view.
A great place for hang gliding is at Mount Magazine. At 2.753 feet high, this is the state's tallest mountain. You can also hang glide at Mount Nebo or the Ouachita Mountains.
Featured photo by Pat David
This article was originally published on Mapping Megan on April 12th.
Another year, another multitude of Comic Cons to attend. Whether you're hitting up the mother of all Cons in San Diego, cosplaying in NYC, or attending a smaller Comic Con in Grand Rapids or Amarillo, the following strategies will help ensure that you have a truly delightful time.
Whenever possible, buy tickets online before the event. You'll save money and avoid the heartbreak of arriving at Comic Con only to find out that the special event you needed to see has already sold out.
There is so much to see at Comic Con, and it's physically impossible to see it all. For this reason, it's important to study the schedule and venue maps in advance so that you can plan out each day around your must-see events. If you want to see one of the major presentations (say, Game of Thrones in San Diego's Hall H), keep in mind that you'll need to budget in hours (and hours) of time for waiting in line. And because there are no guarantees that you'll actually make it into the room you're waiting in line to enter (especially because many venues don't empty rooms after panels), it's a good idea to have a backup plan (or several). One last tip: If you're traveling with friends, remember to designate a meeting place before you split up for the day.
Some vendors don't accept credit cards, and ATM machines are few and far between. (And the ones that do exist are guaranteed to have insanely long lines). Spare yourself headaches and lost time by bringing plenty of cash with you to the venue.
It will come as no surprise that parking at Comic Con can be a major headache. In the rare cases that you do manage to find a spot near the venue, it's likely it will cost you—some lots have been known to charge upwards of $50 per day. If at all possible, ditch the car and arrive at the venue via public transportation or on foot. If you must drive, be sure to arrive early in the day for the best chance at finding a spot.
It's a smart idea to download the venue's app, which is an indispensable resource for navigating any Con. It can also be helpful to create a list on Twitter that includes the official Comic Con Twitter handle, any vendors that you want to see, and people whom you know will be present. Don't underestimate how valuable real-time updates can be when you've been standing in line for three hours.
This tip also extends beyond the digital space. There are tons of great connections to be had at Comic Con, so don't be shy about approaching people. Bonus: Chatting up fellow comics fans is a great way to pass the time while waiting in line. Which brings us to…
We've mentioned that you'll spend a lot of time waiting in line at Comic Con, right? We're not kidding. Instead of hoping that it won't happen to you, accept that it will—and then plan accordingly. Download podcasts to listen to, bring a book or journal, play games on your phone (just make sure it's fully charged before Con), or simply settle in and enjoy the time to let your mind wander. Just remember to make sure you're actually in the right line—sometimes lines bend and merge together, so check to be sure you aren't wasting your time in the wrong place.
As always, you'll be much more likely to enjoy yourself if you do what you can to avoid getting sick or burnt out. Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, wash your hands often, and pack healthy snacks—healthy food can be hard to come by at Cons, especially when you're stuck waiting in line. Having snacks on hand can provide the blood sugar boost you need to continue having a great time.
A common phrase heard round Con is that “Cosplay is Not Consent.” What this means is that just because someone is cosplaying (or simply present at Comic Con), that does not give you the right to touch them, harass them, or photograph them without their permission. If you want a picture, just ask—most people are more than happy to indulge. Be polite, keep your hands to yourself, and remember that everyone there is a human just like you.
Wi-Fi is often available in most convention centers, but you're likely to find that it's painfully slow (or completely jammed) because of the sheer number of people trying to log on. You may see free networks available, but be cautious—some of these may be malicious. It's a good idea to always practice good cyber-security strategies (even if this means you have to hold off on uploading photos to social media until you get home).
Above all else, remember to enjoy yourself. Though the lines may be long and your plans may change, the sheer number of interesting people and panels to see means that you'll have a great time at Comic Con simply by going with the flow.
Featured photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr.
This article was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog on April 13th.