Every year dance music fans weigh in on the pros and cons of attending Winter Music Conference in Miami, paying particular attention to how costly the trip can be.
After making the trek to Miami for 8 separate WMCs over the span of 12 years, we decided to skip the usual recap and instead give you some real tips on how to save money in future years.
THINK ABOUT YOUR WMC DATES
You’ve all heard it before: WMC is a marathon, not a sprint! And rightly so, with the conference and its events spanning a total of approximately 10 days. While some want to do it all, or have to if they work in the industry, in most cases than not you will be deciding which days to travel on – a choice that greatly affects your budget.
The rule of thumb is: the earlier days are always cheaper. Flights are cheaper for the first weekend or during the weekdays while the last weekend tends to be more expensive. Hotel rooms are also cheaper and so are your party tickets.
Why? Ultra Music Festival is on the second weekend of WMC, bringing in an additional tens of thousands of people to the area. With higher demand comes higher prices. If you’re hitting Miami for the pool parties and club nights, you can get amazing line-ups on weekdays to rival those on weekends, with cheaper tickets to boot!
PICK YOUR TRAVEL TO MIAMI WISELY
There is no real secret here: WMC happens to be during spring break and Miami is prime vacation destination. But there’s a few tips you should follow when deciding how to make your way down south:
1) If you’re in a large group, consider driving. With cheaper gas prices this may cut your budget down by several hundred dollars and give you a car to use in Miami. You think you may not need it but with parties now divided between South Beach and Downtown, it could come in handy.
2) Search for flights early and on a Tuesday. This is somewhat of a known traveler’s trick but domestic flights often see price reductions on a Tuesday when airlines revisit faress based on previous week’s sales. Research has also found that booking an average of 7 weeks in advance gives you optimal pricing on most domestic routes. Although I booked roughly a month in advance, I found $220 round-trip tickets from Chicago on a Tuesday afternoon for weekday travel.
3) Consider Ft. Lauderdale. Fares are generally cheaper (and sometimes considerably so) but there is the added hassle to getting to South Beach. If you choose this option, avoid booking a return flight from this cheaper location for 6am if you’re planning to party the night before – it’s going to be hard to make that flight (yes we’ve been there, and failed).
SOUTH BEACH vs DOWNTOWN MIAMI
After travel, your biggest choice is accommodation and the biggest dilemma remains between picking a SoBe hotel or one in Downtown. Be aware that hotels are not your only choices, with airbnb offering rooms, apartments or whole houses for fairly cheap prices if booking with a larger group. You can also stay at some reasonable cheap hostels in South Beach, giving you the chance to meet many other young people traveling to Miami for WMC or vacation.
Prices vary in all locations with options ranging from luxury to budget, but downtown is generally cheaper and if you are planning to do most of your partying at Space, Steam or Mana Wynwood then it may be a good choice to stay downtown and make the occasional trip to South Beach as needed.
DIVERSIFY YOUR LINE-UP CHOICES
Why spend all this cash and use time off work to catch the same 10 acts you can see in your home city? Diversify your line-up!
Dig deeper and explore acts you never get the chance to see or have maybe never even heard of. While it may be easy to choose to see Carl Cox or Laidback Luke (depending on your taste), why not attend parties that cost less and have deeper line-ups with acts you won’t get the chance to see at your local club in the next two months?
We were at the Incorrect Label party at Steam Miami and were blown away by artists we saw for the first time, such as Supernova, Ramon Tapia and COCODRILLS. Similarly, we were impressed by Rodriguez Jr. and Dosem at the Suara pool party at the Dream Hotel.
And if there’s an artist or two you are just simply not willing to miss, see them in the most unique line-up or setting you can get. That artist for me is Marco Carola and catching him go b2b with Loco Dice on the Space Terrace for a marathon set was truly a treat and not something you can’t really experience elsewhere besides maybe at Amnesia in Ibiza!
KNOW YOUR FOOD
Miami doesn’t have to be expensive and nor do your meals. No matter where in the city you decide to stay, there’s always a cheap option or two within walking distance. So instead of spending $20 on a plain ham & cheese sandwich at a cafe on Ocean Drive, do some research. Some of our favorites include La Sandwicherie (everything is under $10), the lunch buffet at David’s Cafe’ II, Thai House South Beach, Bernie’s LA Cafe’ and Alma Mexicana!
DOWNLOAD AND USE UBER EFFICIENTLY!
We would be surprised if you haven’t already caught on the nation-wide trend but Uber is the way to go, and more so in South Beach than anywhere else. Miami drivers are known for taking advantage of tourists and this year too we heard some horrible stories. Here is how to avoid getting scammed:
1) Download Uber.
2) Use Uber for any of your taxi needs. Type in the correct destination in the Uber app as this will be useful if the drivers tries to take you the long way around to your location.
3) Track your ride on the Uber app or Google Maps. Speak up if you feel the driver is not taking the fastest/shortest ride to where you’re going.
4) If you feel like you’ve been taken for a ride, reply to the Uber fare e-mail you receive letting them know the driver purposely took you the wrong route. The beauty of Uber is that it uses GPS technology to track routes so you can easily prove your case, instead of needing to argue with a cab driver about the fare of a ride that you feel was purposely lengthened.
BE SMART WHEN GETTING AROUND
Don’t want to do Uber? Think smart anyways! If you’re getting out of Space at 8am and need to get back to your hotel on South Beach, it’s very likely there’s someone in your exact same shoes looking to save on cab money. Share a cab!
Going from downtown to any of the parties in Wynwood? Use the metro mover, it’s free!
Ok I admit it, this may be a little tough as after all you’re in Miami to party! But the truth is $15 beers are the norm and mixed drinks can cost up to $25-30 depending on the venue so if you’re looking to get drunk on the daily, you will need a big budget. While we are not saying that you shouldn’t drink at all, if you want to do WMC on a budget you CAN, by exercising some self control at the bars!
ONCE AGAIN, IT’S A MARATHON AND NOT A SPRINT!
The more you plan ahead, the better and cheaper your trip will be. Party tickets can be considerably cheaper if you set your eyes on line-ups or label parties you absolutely do not want to miss. There’s certain ones that bring quality line-ups every year and a little regular research on Resident Advisor or Wantickets will help you snag those early birds before line-ups are out!
Oh and make sure you leave an afternoon or two off for some decompression time. After all, it would be a pity to get all the way to Miami and not enjoy a few hours of sun on the beach without needing to worry about the next pool party on your schedule!
And of course, our last tip: DON’T FORGET YOUR DOWNBEATS!
See you all in Miami next year!