Right now, the burning TransparencyCamp question on everyone’s mind isn’t are you going to TCamp? -- because of course you are. (We’ve already had 109 people sign up!) Rather, the question is, "Where should I stay?” Scoping out hotel options is never easy, especially if you're trying to keep a balanced budget. To help you out, I’ve rounded up some options and search tips below. Got any of your own? Share them in the comments.
This year’s TransparencyCamp is taking place just off the Orange Metro Line, a stone’s throw from both the Clarendon & Virginia Square/GMU stops. Because of George Mason University's Arlington campus (where we'll be holding TCamp), there are some decent options in the area, but don’t feel pressured to stay in the exact TCamp neighborhood if you can’t afford it. You’ll be in good shape for getting to the conference as long as you stay anywhere accessible to a Blue & Orange Line Metro stop. (As you’ll see below, a lot of our international guests will be staying in the L’Enfant Plaza area.)
For what it’s worth, I should also note that the area is full of sidewalks and public transportation (metro, bus, bikeshare, etc), so we’re not dragging you out into the middle of nowhere. (Northern Virginia people can vouch!)
Sunlight recommends: the Holiday Inn Capitol where we’ve actually pre-reserved several hotel room blocks with limited availability. We’re expecting a lot of TCamp attendees to stay in this hotel, so if you’re interested in sticking with your fellow Campers (and meeting international Campers, too) this is a great bet. Curious to learn more about reserving a room in this block? Shoot an email to infoATsunlightfoundationDOTcom with the subject line ROOM AT THE HOLIDAY INN.
There are not a ton of hostels in the Arlington area (or any, really), but there are some in DC that may suffice. Remember: Staying near the Blue/Orange line is ideal, but a transfer won’t be the worst thing in the world. To that end, Hostelling International is probably your best bet: from there, you’ll only be a few blocks from the McPherson Square Metro (Blue/Orange line).
Although many of you may be exploring informally couchsurfing on a friend or family member’s couch for TCamp weekend, there’s also an online network called Couchsurfing.org that offers some additional (free) options. Never fear: You don’t have to go blindly into staying with a stranger. Couchingsurfing.org makes sure that participating members & hosts share information about themselves, gives you the option of messaging potential hosts in advance to check out what they’re like, and even has a verification and trust system, so you can judge your hosts accordingly. Here’s a link to the search for DC.
Think of AirBnB as Couchsurfing for people who might want their adventure to come with a little more comfort and/or a little more security. Although I’ve had some great experiences Couchsurfing, I can personally vouch that I love (love) AirBnB. Love it. AirBnB lets people rent out rooms in their home or even their entire apartment. So, while the rooms aren’t free, you can get incredible deals. For example, for New Years, I split a penthouse apartment in Brooklyn (overlooking Prospect Park) with some friends for pennies, all thanks to AirBnB. There aren’t necessarily lavish options like that in the area for TCamp, here are some examples of what you can find:
- Snag the full condo for the weekend, split w/up to 4 people, be super near the conference, $140/night
- Full apartment, up to 5 people, great location, $150/night
- Up to 2 folks, walkable to conference (and happy hour!), $147/night
As you can see, you can come up with some pretty neat options. I just did a quick search for the weekend of the 27th - 29th in the area right by the conference, but if you expand your scope (especially into DC), you’ll find many more.
Interested in finding a buddy, seeing if anyone’s up for a ride share or swapping other hotel tips and tricks? Join the TransparencyCamp Google Group and start a conversation. Even if you’re not interested in these things, you should get in the loop to stay on top of all things TCamp.
More tidbits soon!