This week we got a couple feet of snow and here in New England. Legacy got canceled so I wasn’t able to take the deck out this week. Instead of taking the week off I thought I’d share some important things that I’ve learn about traveling.  When you start going to bigger Grand Prix and what not, you often end up doing some extensive traveling.  As I plan to go to GP Vegas I’ve noticed many of the people around me are quite awful at travel planning.

Sometimes you get the weekend off last minute—so you end up going unexpectedly—but a majority of the time when you’re traveling for a Grand Prix you plan it fairly far in advance, the farther in advance the better.  You’ll get a better deal on your hotel, and possibly your flight or any other reservations you have to make.  More importantly than that, you’ll also have better options. I booked my hotel for GP Vegas about six weeks ago, and because of it we found a great deal within walking distance of the venue.  I always recommend staying close by the venue. Days at the GP are long and exhausting—it is not worth saving $20 to have to get up an hour earlier, pay for parking or a taxi or rental car or whatever.  It will make your life ten times better if you just stay as close as you possibly can.

Hotels are easy and quick to book, and may sometimes even seem like cheapest option, but make sure to shop around first.  There is couch surfing, AirBnB—Hotels are far from your only option. If you’re in a major city check hostels too. They’ll be bare bones but cheap, and if you’re in a city with hostels they’ll most likely have decent public transportation so it won’t be too much of a worry about getting to the venue. (But make sure to check!) Hostels are especially great if you’re traveling light and you’re traveling alone.  Make sure to check if they have lockers to store your stuff while you won’t be there, and bring your own combination lock.  I recommend this if you’re traveling alone because it’s a great way to meet new people.  I did this while I backpacked alone through Europe and made lots of friends.

If you’re lucky though, you’ll have a group of friends who will want to make a weekend of it together.  If you’re close enough to have a short road trip, those are obviously the best.  Splitting gas four to six ways can make a trip fairly affordable, and getting to argue over who gets shotgun/radio privileges is always fun.  If you have a group it’s also easier to split a hotel or an AirBnB.  If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend trying to get somewhere with at least a microwave and a small fridge to cut back on the number of meals that you have to eat out.  It lets you save those leftovers and have them for dinner the next night, or even grab a microwave pizza from the grocery store and have that one night.  Sometimes it makes that AirBnB that seems a little bit more expensive cheaper in the long run. Make sure you take into account all taxes, fees, parking expenses, and what it will mean for what you’re going to eat as well.

Lastly if you don’t live close enough to take a train or drive, you’re stuck flying and that really blows. I don’t know a lot of people who like flying—I am definitely not someone who enjoys it.  Google has some great tools for tracking flight costs. You can put in the dates, the locations, and how many people and it will continuously update you on changing prices so you can keep an eye out for the best prices available.  When flying make sure you plan for the worst. If you’re flying in the winter remember to plan for snow.  If you’re really worried, spent the little bit extra for travel insurance or see if you can move your flight up and leave a day sooner if it might snow the day you’re supposed to leave. Also make sure to carry your valuables—especially your decks—in your carry on.  If your baggage gets lost there isn’t going to be anything they can do for you; and if you think for one second that the airline is going to reimburse you for your deck, you’re very wrong.

While you’re at the Grand Prix, make sure to not wear yourself thin. Food is always scarce at these things for some reason—I don’t know why—so pack snacks and have a plan.  Don’t wear yourself out or get sick while you’re out of town.  Traveling is enough on its own to get you sick, especially if you fly, nevermind if you push yourself too hard playing for twelve hours, not eating enough, and then go out drinking all night.

The most important thing to remember, though, is to have fun. These types of events have hundreds of people playing. Not everyone is going to win. In reality most people are going to lose, so make sure you have a secondary plan to make sure the weekend isn’t a waste in your mind! Whether it’s meeting an artist, your favorite streamer, or just new friends, it doesn’t matter. Just have a back up plan.

I’m really looking forward to taking this deck to Vegas and seeing all of you there! I hope this advice helps at least a few people. I’ve met more than one Magic player that has struggled with their travel plans!

Kate hails from Worcester MA and also does a bit of Card Altering. Check her Stuff out on Facebook! She mainly plays legacy and modern though will occasionally find herself playing EDH.

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