Feb 28, 2013

BEA Tips & Tricks: Part 3

BEA 2013 Tips & Tricks
Part 3: Make The Most of It

1. Hotels
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.

5. Budget
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.

In short, my friends, live it up.

Previous BEA Tips & Tricks Posts:
Part 1: As A Matter of FAQ
Part 2: Take It On The Floor


  1. Thank you for the great BEA tips and tricks. They SAVED my life last year (and will this year too).
    I cant stress comfy shoes enough. I also brought an extra tee shirt in my bag. I needed it by the time 1-2 pm came. I was so hot from rushing to and from. It was heavenly to slip it on.
    I also carried breathsavers/gum, a few small makeup essentials, hairband, band aids, etc.
    I put a few yogurts, snacks, and Gatorade in my suitcase too. Funny thing was a few of the booths had some seriously great treats. One had subs and beer, another had cake, another had wine, another assorted snacks, etc. I think they were trying to get us drunk so the crowds, and physical assaults to get to the new pile of books wasn't so painful & stressful..lolz..
    It wasn't so bad.
    Only when Rachel Ray showed up did I get stepped on and tossed about. It was funny, it was like RACHEL RAY is coming and WHOOSH over 200 ppl showed up from ALL directions! I had an panic attack!
    I must of said "Excuse me, I'm sorry, and smiled apologetically, a million times that day.
    Ppl were really helpful too. I said "Today is my 1st time can you please help me?" and no one was mean. One lady gave me her ticket to get a book signed..I forgot the author! He writes MG..He's a big deal too..Its gonna drive me nuts..
    Overall I got lost a lot, but my getting lost led me to meet cool authors and ppl. I missed out on the Dark Days signing and a few other YA things because I was lost though.
    Thanks again for these posts Hannah :)

    1. You're welcome, Bella! I love making these posts.

      I saw the Rachel Ray signing. It was insane! I was going to try and get one, but I asked a publicist as I was walking by if there was a shot at getting one and she said they were going to run out of copies. Sad, but the reason I was late to it was because I was at the Dark Days signing, so I wasn't too upset. ;)

  2. Thanks for another great post, Hannah! I'll add a couple of comments about hotels. If you are sharing a room, and a hotel advertises double beds, please make sure you understand exactly how small that is. IMO, anything smaller than a queen is not suitable for sharing. I went to NYC with 5 girlfriends a few years ago and stayed at a hotel with 2 double beds in each room. Four of the friends decided to share a room to keep costs down. I warned them, but they insisted that it would be OK since a double is not much smaller than a queen. They were miserable.

    You can possibly get hotel deals by registering with sites like sniqueaway.com and jetsetter.com. (And Priceline, of course.)

    I'm still planning on crashing at my brother's apartment, even though he warned me that I will have a long trek to BEA each day. (He's on the Upper East side.) I hope I don't regret that, but the prospect of saving money was too strong to ignore!

    BTW - my brother has lived in Manhattan for over 10 years, so if anyone has any questions about hotels, transportation, whatever - just let me know.

    Stephanie (Go Flash Go) @ Read, Rinse, Repeat

    1. Ugh - agreed! I shared a queen with my friend and it was a bit of a tight fit. Unless you are super thin and/or good with full-time cuddling all night, I do not recommend double beds for 2 people.

      Yeah, the UES is a hike from BEA, but figure out a good subway route or just resign yourself to taking a taxi. I take a taxi each morning to BEA.

  3. I love your tips posts!! Shipping at the convention center is CRAZY expensive and such a rip-off. My mom and I made the treck a few blocks from Javits last year to the USPS and saved so much money that way! WOO! And yes, parties! I love blogger meet-ups and the pub parties that I got invited to last year were SO much fun. Taking time for sight-seeing is also a must. My mom and I are going in a bit earlier this year so we will try to do some more of that. :)

    1. Thanks, Bailey!!!

      I just love NYC as a whole. BEA is fantastic, but I would be sad if I was in the city and didn't spend time in it. Hence why I don't really mind missing the BEA Blogger Con or events at night.

  4. That's seriously an NYC hotel room? It looks like something you'd find in the bowels of a cruise ship! It's making me claustrophobic just looking at it:) We ended up choosing the Marriott just off Times Square the first year I went to BEA because my fabulous father in law has lots of points and we were able to stay for free, but we honestly couldn't have asked for a better location and will be staying there again. It's a bit of a walk to the Javits, but not too bad, and it's so nice to be around all the sights and restaurants. Like you said, BEA is more than just the expo itself, it's about NYC as well:) Plus, there's a FedEx store one block up which has been EPIC for shipping books home. I just feel bad for the poor delivery guy who has to haul my monstrous box around. He probably curses my name from the moment he picks the box up to the moment he delivers it.

    1. I always say I need to buy my mailman a gift card or something for the monstrous amount of things he (she?) delivers to me. They've really earned it.

  5. Great post Hannah (like always!) I plan to see more of the city this year and act the tourist.

  6. I read this post and reread it. I am having the hardest time finding a hotel room. Even with a roommate. ARGHH! It's soo expensive. I think we will have to sleep on a friends floor.

    1. Yeah, the hotel room rates in NYC are INSANE. Are you a member of the BEA group on goodreads? You can hook up with people there looking for roomies.

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