Your first WWDC on a Budget
WWDC season officially started this week! For the third time in a row, a lottery will determine who is lucky enough to get the opportunity to buy a ticket for $1599. If you’re not from the Bay Area, you need to pay for airfare and accommodation in addition to the WWDC ticket, and the whole week will suddenly end up costing $4000 easily.
For a lot of developers, their employers are usually happy to foot the bill but for the ones of us who are self-employed/indie or working for small and lean startups, this is a significant investment. Alex Cash recently wrote a great post on how you can save on your trip to WWDC which inspired me to write this post to add my own tricks on organizing a budget trip from the viewpoint of a developer who has done the pilgrimage to WWDC from Germany three times already.
If you’re flying to WWDC from Europe, do your homework and search for flights with Kayak and SkyScanner. Both are very good and compare ticket prices across various travel sites for you. If you are a little flexible with dates, you can save a few bucks as well. In my experience SFO is the cheapest airport when you’re flying in from Europe but make sure you search for flights to nearby airports as well.
Unless you absolutely cannot afford it, it is usually a good idea to pay a little extra for a good connection which is shorter and/or involves fewer stops. I would also recommend flying in a day or two earlier in order to better cope with jet-lag and be able to function at your full capacity when the show starts on Monday. Flying in early is going to increase your accommodation costs, however this ties neatly into the next section…
Real estate in San Francisco is crazy expensive. People pay $5000 for a single bedroom apartment in the better parts of the city. $50.000 a year, only for rent. Let that sink in…
The hotels are quite expensive just as well, especially if you’d like to stay within walking distance of Moscone Center. If you can afford it, go for it, Being within walking distance of WWDC is a huge bonus since it allows you to quickly drop off and pick up things from your room throughout the day.
If you cannot afford it, don’t worry, it’s not a deal breaker. You can still experience all what the WWDC-week has to offer but you need to plan a little about what you’ll do with your stuff after the sessions before heading out to the parties. My suggestion is take to an Uber to your place, drop your stuff, freshen up and hit the streets again.
Alex suggests getting a hotel room outside the city, near the airports instead of the expensive hotels near Moscone but I would suggest looking for an AirBnb. You can find really good private AirBnb rooms for about 100-120€ a night within 30min walking distance of Moscone. 30 mins walking distance is a good compromise because you can still walk and experience the fair city of San Francisco a bit or can take a quick Uber if you’re in a hurry.
When searching for hotels or an AirBnb room, please keep in mind the area around Civic Center and Tenderloin have affordable options but are quite rough as well. Do not get something there unless you’re comfortable around homeless people and/or drug addicts, general crazy people.
Another good option to reduce the accommodation costs is to book a place with several bedrooms over AirBnb and share it with friends and/or colleagues who happen to be attending WWDC as well.
Transport and Internet
The best way to get around in San Francisco is either walking if you are not in a hurry or use Lyft or Uber. Both offer very good prices within the city. If you are not short pressed in time you can also use the shared ride options Lyft Line or Uber Pool to get from A-to-B anywhere within the city for a fixed price of about $5.
T-Mobile offers the best pay-as-you-go plan: you can get a SIM card for free and pay only $10 for a week of cellular internet. They say that T-Mobile has bad coverage outside urban areas but they are just fine in San Francisco with good LTE reception.
Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it to WWDC this year but I plan to write a couple of posts about how to make the best of your WWDC experience over the next few weeks. Please get in touch if you have specific questions or suggestions.