Saving on WWDC

2016/04/21

If you're a developer for Apple platforms, you've undoubtedly seen some of the discussion over the last few days about the cost of WWDC. With each year popularity of the conference increases and so too does demand for tickets. Apple announces the conference later and later, leaving less time for planning.

Manton Reece encourages us to not give up on WWDC and think of other creative ways to save cost:

I think it’s possible to go out to WWDC without spending a fortune. You can attend AltConf, find an Airbnb room for $150/night, and stay a few days instead of all week. I downgraded my expectations for WWDC and booked a cheaper hotel room a couple of months ago. It’s about how much you want to be there.

John Gruber followed up on Manton's thoughts:

The problem with Manton’s idea is that there aren’t many Airbnb options within a walkable distance of Moscone. (Even if you don’t have a conference ticket, most of the social stuff you might want to attend is in the general area of SOMA or Union Square.)

Perhaps I can point out a few more ways to save cost, including those specific to the Bay Area. I've only lived here for about four years, so I'm no expert, but I do have some ideas that may be helpful to atendees looking to cut costs.

Hotels

Getting a hotel outside of the City proper is a huge savings. This morning, I was quoted $183 a night at the Oakland Airport Hilton for the week of WWDC. Checking in Sunday evening, and checking out Friday morning, you'd have accomidations covered for $915. This is a steal compared to the $2500 Casey Liss estimates he's going to pay.

I was also quoted $185 for a Best Western in Redwood City. $140 for a Hampton Inn in Hayward. For a Best Western near the Oakland airport I was quoted $160 a night. All of these hotels were walking distance to train stations.

Transit

BART Map

BART is our public train system. It's underground in the city and above ground in the burbs. Moscone is just three blocks from the Powell Street station, and the Bill Graham auditorium is just two blocks from the Civic Center station. I attended WWDC last year taking the BART each day to Moscone, and then back to my home each night in Fremont. It took me about 45 minutes each way and the fare was about $60 for the week. If you were riding the train from Daly city or Oakland the ride would be shorter, and the fare lower.

There are other transit options as well, though I must admit I am less familiar. The Muni bus system is fairly cheap and goes all over the city. Uber pool is a good way to save cash on a cab. Caltrain hooks up with BART if you want to do transit from the peninsula. The train switch adds a little time, but you could stay in suburbs like Redwood City, Palo Alto, or Mountain View.

Alternative Airports

Bay Area Airports

One way I save cost when traveling back to the midwest is looking at all of the bay area airports. I like flying Oakland (OAK) because it's simple and easy to hop on public transit. It's also worth considering San Jose (SJC), though you'll need to find a ride. These other airports have different connecting options and are usually a little bit less busy. You can probably find a deal flying in to one of them.

Food

Conference food is never glamorous, and WWDC is no exception. However, there are always pastries and juices in the morning, and boxed lunch provided around noon. You can probably pack along some meals with you, or hit a grocery store while you are here. It may not be the healthiest or most satisfying, but it's definitely cheaper than eating out every meal for the week.

Scholarship

Apple provides scholarships every year, helping people attend who may not be able to otherwise. If you are a student or a member of a STEM organization, it's worth looking into.

Get Creative

I know none of these things are overly convenient. I hadn't thought of it at first, but I also definitely understand that some of this can be intimidating if you aren't from a big city (I grew up in Missouri).

I just hate the idea of someone counting themselves out because of cost. Especially if they don't know all of their options. WWDC is an incredibly enriching experience I recommend for any Apple developer. If you are considering attending I encourage you to be creative, and try to find a way to make it work.

UPDATE: I've written a small followup with some crowd sourced tips.