BEA 2013 Tips & Tricks
Part 3: Make The Most of It
Hotel selection is crucial when planning any sort of getaway, but especially one like BEA. Figure out what’s important to you (location? amenities? price? size?) when you start looking. Research potential hotels extensively. Check to see if they’ve had reports of bed bugs (ew, gross, I know) or awful reviews. Keep in mind when reading these bad reviews, there is always that person who likes to complain about everything. The hotel I picked had a few awful reviews, but for each 1 bad there were 50 glowing.
|Don't let tiny hotel rooms happen to you!|
I picked a hotel that while not exactly near BEA is in the middle of everything else in the city. I went with a hotel brand I trust (Hampton Inn) and started from there. In also knew that while I would be going to BEA, I wanted to do stuff in the city at night. My hotel was a 10 minute walk from Times Square, 10 minutes from Central Park, 2 blocks from Rockefeller Center, and a block of Restaurant Row with a subway station across the street. Everything was easily walkable except BEA so I planned on taking a cab each morning and the shuttle home.
The hotel also came with a continental breakfast each day (one less meal to buy) and had 2 queen sized beds in a very decent size room. If you’re not familiar, NYC hotel rooms are little more than CrackerJack boxes with a toilet and TV. They’re tiny, but I made sure to get the best room possible because I was bringing people with me who weren’t going to BEA (I know—I hang out with some crazy people). Because I loved it so much, I’m staying in the same hotel again.
If you’re on a budget, stay at one of the hotels BEA is affiliated with for a cheaper rate.
2. Shipping wars
So you got all these pretty books … now what? You have a couple options for shipping. There’s a UPS and FedEx kiosks set up inside the Javits for your convenience. You don’t even have to leave the building to ship!
I believe it’s FedEx that lets you set up a box and make drops in it throughout the day. So you get your box and fill it all day long with goodies to send home in lieu of a suitcase, but these boxes are not monitored and many have had things taken from inside them. Not all, but some.
Yes, UPS and FedEx are easy, but you pay for the added convenience. It’s crazy expensive. I recommend hitting up the nearest Post Office and shipping media mail. Much cheaper. If you want to save a few bucks, brings your own packing tape from home. I hear there is a massive post office a few blocks over from the Javits (like a 10 minute walk?) that you can use, but check out where other locations are.
I lucked out and my hotel had a PO on the same block, so I took the shuttle back to the hotel and just walked around the corner and shipped my books home daily. Kept me from lugging my books all around NYC. My suitcase and shoulders thanked me.
Make sure to add in money for shipping when you budget. Unless you’re one of the people who drive and can load your car. Also keep in mind the last day of BEA is a Saturday and some PO branches have different hours.
I added delivery confirmation to all my stuff so I knew when to expect it. I may have lost half of those slips (be quiet, Mariah), but I vow to protect them with my life so I know when I can expect my lovely gifts in the mail and I may celebrate.
3. Know your surroundings
I know NYC is hailed at the safest big city in the world, and it is, but make sure you know what you’re doing and where you’re going. Try to stay with a buddy or a group when venturing out into the city. When you leave BEA, take that pass off so people can’t read your name or see you’ve been to event that makes them wonder what exactly is in that bag you’re lugging around like it contains diamonds?
Most hotels (all hotels?) have a map of the city available. Once you figure out the streets and avenues, it’s near impossible to get lost. Don’t be afraid to take the subway, taxis, or walk, but be careful and go with your gut. I hate to go all elementary school on you, but use the buddy system. Be smart.
4. The party don’t stop with BEA
When making your BEA schedule, make sure you make a Post-BEA schedule as well. A lot of stuff in NYC focuses on books the week of BEA. There are additional signings at night, publishers throw parties (most of the these are invite only, sorry), bloggers plan dinners … Make sure you do your homework and see if you can attend some events other than BEA.
Closer to BEA I’ll do a post focused on other events going on that week because Lord knows there’s a lot of them. And if you score an invite to a swanky party? I’ll totally be your plus one.
I know. It’s an utterly evil word, but BEA is an expensive trip to an expensive city. Make a budget and stick with it. Start planning now how much spending money you want to allot yourself for fun, utterly frivolous things (and trust me—you want to have a couple frivolous things).
If you think you may want to see a show, check out TKST in Times Square. They have a ton of deeply discounted Broadway show tickets for the day of ridiculously cheap. Why spend $65 when you can spend $30 on a ticket?
Talk to native New Yorkers (there are a ton of authors and bloggers who would be willing to help you out here) and find an inexpensive, but awesome, place to eat. Email, tweet, or facebook them for suggestions.
6. Books are great, but living is greater
It’s easy to get so consumed by BEA and books and signings and parties and authors while you’re there, but NYC is an amazing city unto itself. There is so much history and culture and energy that you do yourself such a disservice by sticking your head in a book all week, especially if you’ve never been.
Hit the 9/11 Memorial. It’s free and so iconic and humbling. On your way back, walk further up to the subway and stop into Century 21 for some awesome discount shopping (I got a box set of a designer perfume for $19 that at home would’ve cost $50—and no, it’s not a knockoff). Hit Chinatown and Little Italy. Go to Serendipity for a frozen hot chocolate (make sure you have a reservation). Go to The Rock—the top of Rockefeller Center which has a much better view and is much more reasonably priced than the Empire State Building. Here’s the thing about the Empire State Building, when you go to the top to take that breathtaking picture of the NYC skyline, you’re missing the Empire State Building in the pic. People know the skyline because of that building. Go to the Rock and take a pic of the Empire State Building.