A little over two years ago now I decided, along with my boon companion Arthon, to experience Amtgard from coast to coast. Since my other boon companion Mhog had decided to travel to all 12 kingdoms in a series of 12 months, we figured it would be easy for us to coordinate with him to make all of our lives easier when traveling the known Amtgard world. What follows is some tips and tricks to Amtgard travel that I have experienced that I think will help many others make trips as fun and worry-free as possible. This article will primarily focus on air travel, as this is more often than not the travel method we choose.
Planning is the most important part of any travel, but especially so for Amtgard travel. Some of the following will be very basic but helpful reminders to anyone who wants to be able to successfully reach their destination.
Asking the boss for time off is a necessary step. It is important to ask as early as possible as you are more likely to receive a yes answer to your request. I generally ask 2-3 months in advance for time off even if I am not sure I’m going to make the event. Most bosses will always be willing to allow you to change your mind and go ahead and work the days if something comes up. Another helpful hint is to remind your boss that your time off is coming up. I remind my boss 1 month, then 2 weeks then the week of my time off to assure that he remembers and doesn’t promise me to some high profile project. You protect both your travel plans and your boss with the reminders.
Making the flight arrangements is a very important step. I generally begin keeping my eye on the airline websites 3 months ahead of time to look for the best rate. There are many online sites available that will offer you fares and looking at all of them will assure that you get a good price. For example, my roundtrip flight to Great Eastern will be 184 dollars. Our flights to Rakis look like they will cost 207 dollars. Though I prefer American Airlines, I try to be flexible since at times you can find tickets a lot cheaper from other airlines.
Transportation is the next important step to traveling. This is when having friends who like to travel will come in handy. Try to coordinate with them even when they are not from the same city on your arrival times so you can share a rental car. This will save you and your friend money as well as avoid the boredom of driving by yourself to the event site after a long flight. The boon companions were formed because we took turns “hooking each other up” at the various events we traveled to. Be sure not to go with the smallest car. Though this is the cheapest option, you will have difficulty fitting all of your gear in a compact. Many Amtgarders are willing to take care of you when you come their event. Seeking a ride with a local, if done well in advance, can be cheaper than renting a car.
One must obviously procure lodging if one wants to assure that one has a warm bed and a shower at an event. Checking online for the closest hotel then sharing the cost of the room with your friends will save you money and time. Be sure to check if your friends to see if they have car club or NRA memberships. Many hotels offer discounts to members of these organizations. At times when the event site is VERY cool, like Neverwinter’s Coronation or Celestial Kingdom’s Spring War site, they have cabins with showers. If this is the case, obviously capitalize and stay on site. If camping is your thing you will need to look to someone else for help as I try to avoid camping at all costs. Trying to bring camping gear aboard a plane just proves to be a large pain in the ass for me. This is a case where local friends can also prove invaluable.
You may be thinking to yourself, if I am not bringing camping gear, what do I bring? Ah, this is a very important subject. When traveling, make sure that all your swords and ESPECIALLY your shield arrive safely both at your destination then home again. For this purpose I have procured two very important items. I looked to other sports for the solution. Hockey and baseball offered very little help since their bags were soft and my swords could easily be damaged. Golf, on the other hand, had the solution. Golfers are an anal lot when it comes to the welfare of their clubs; therefore they travel with hard cases to protect said clubs. As a side benefit, these cases generally have wheels and can easily transport 10-20 Amtgard swords. I can also put my shoes and gloves in the box for easy transport. The second item I acquired was a very large duffle bag. This bag can fit 3 shields and all garb necessary for the event. With these items and a carry on, I transport everything necessary for an event with little to no problem.
Now that all of the arrangements are made, there are other things you can do to assure you have the best trip possible. Check ahead of time for any local rules clarifications and familiarize yourself with them so it does not become an issue when you arrive. At the very basic level, know if you are going to a SiM or AC kingdom. If you plan on participating in battle games, know the clarifications that apply to your class. Most kingdoms have websites or e-mail lists, so this information should be obtained easily. Look online at the event flyer to be sure you are prepared for the type of events that are being run. For example, if they are having a jugging tourney, you may want to dust off your flails and pack them so you are ready to JUG!
Inform the people running the event you are coming. Another thing you can do is post to their forum or e-mail list that you will be attending. This will generate excitement for the event and also have people looking out for you on the field. If people know you are coming, they will go out of their way to look for you, meet you, and make sure you feel at home. Every kingdom wants more people and especially out-of-kingdom visitors to attend their events. Make sure to return the favor when people come to your events as well.
It is my hope that this article will encourage people to travel more to the various kingdoms. Experiencing Amtgard from coast to coast has made my Amtgard experience far more enjoyable. By employing the steps above, one can make Amtgard travel cheaper, safer, and more enjoyable.
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