Paying your own way for Xen Summit? Or are you traveling on your company’s travel budget but need to cut back wherever possible to avoid the risk of angering your management (which, in this economy, is not a good idea)?
It is possible to travel to and in the Bay Area relatively inexpensively! Here’s a few hints. Note that these are not personal recommendations and certainly not recommendations by my employer. Your mileage may vary.
Air: Check out fares to San Jose (SJC) and Oakland (OAK). These are a bit farther than San Francisco (SFO) but if you are renting a car anyway, the lower fares may be well worth it. (Just don’t try to drive to Redwood City from SJC or OAK between 7-9am or 4-6pm!) If you don’t plan to rent a car, OAK also has a shuttle to BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and I think SJC has a shuttle to Caltrain. If you do rent a car, SJC and OAK car rentals are cheaper too (especially after all the ridiculous add-on SFO charges). Taxi fare from OAK or SJC will probably be high enough that a rental car will be a better deal.
To get best fares, make sure you reserve and pay at least two weeks in advance, possibly three. Staying over a Saturday night may save a lot (and give you an opportunity to vacation or handle other business in the Bay Area). And because of the economy, many airfare sales are coming and going every week or so!
Hotel: Last October, I was on personal travel (for a wedding) and stayed at the Good Nite Inn Redwood City (GNIRC), at $49/night. They are now running a special which covers the Summit timeframe for $40/night! GNIRC was OK, adequate. Kind of like a decent Motel 6. I have certainly seen worse. Rooms were clean, included a refrigerator, a microwave, and a TV, and a continental breakfast (packaged pastries, orange juice, and coffee; no tables so you have to carry it back to your room). Some noise (doors slamming, traffic noise) but I always carry an MP3 player with a white noise loop so I don’t worry about that much. Hallways and exterior were pretty run down, but no signs of safety issues during my stay (no crack dealers or hookers). There’s an International House of Pancakes (IHOP) right next store and a McDonalds within walking distance.
I would definitely stay there again, but probably would not if I had my wife or family. And given a choice of GNIRC or sharing a room with someone at a place that costs 2x-4x as much, I’d take GNIRC.
GNIRC is about 4 miles from the Oracle Conference Center (OCC), where the Xen summit will be held. It can be walked (I haven’t), or there is a Caltrain station about a half-mile from GNIRC (didn’t walk to that either) and Caltrain can take you to within a mile of OCC… there may be a shuttle between Caltrain and OCC, not sure. I’d also guess a taxi fare would be no more than US$10 to US$15… though it may be much higher if the driver gets stuck in traffic.
If GNIRC is full, there’s one other local place in the same price range (Redwood Inn?), a bit further away (but maybe closer to Caltrain). I haven’t stayed there. Every other hotel is at least $80/night (though please post if you find other bargains) and most are $150/night or more
Local transportation: The Oracle Conference Center (OCC) is not particularly convenient unless you have a rental car; if you can car-share with someone it will probably be your best bet. If you can’t rent (or share or afford) a car and the weather is decent, I’m told the walk from Caltrain to OCC isn’t bad. Note that Caltrain can take you many places south (e.g. to Palo Alto and Silicon Valley) and connects to BART, which can take you to San Francisco and from there to many other places in the Bay Area.
WARNING: As far as I know, transportation will NOT be provided to/from the Tuesday evening Xen Summit social event and public transport will not be convenient (though it may be possible… there is a Caltrain Shoreline Shuttle that stops near the museum entrance, but I don’t know how late it runs). The thinking is that there should be enough cars to carpool.