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  • rsts11 3:33 am on January 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: atm   

    Hints for International Travelers 

    It’s been a while since I added a new category here, but a Twitter conversation with @quarridors inspired this. As with much of the rest of Gallyhelp, I’m counting on people with different experience from mine to contribute, and I’ll summarize. Leave a comment if you like, and if your advice is specific to a certain origination country or continent, please note that for other readers’ information.

    Getting At Your Money

    Banking can be odd in the US, especially with ATM (Automated Teller Machine/Bank Machine/Cash Machine) access. Generally if you use an ATM from any bank other than your own, that ATM operator will charge you a fee (ranging from $1.50-5.99 in my experience, depending on location) to withdraw cash, and sometimes to even get a balance inquiry. The bank that issues your credit/debit card may also charge you a transaction fee and/or a currency exchange fee. Some banks will refund the “foreign ATM” fee or a part of it, but I’m not sure how common that is for international transactions.

    There are two ATMs in the lobby of the Marriott (host hotel of Gallifrey One), and as non-bank-owned ATMS they are likely to charge everyone a fee for transactions.

    My first year at Gally, the ATMs ran out of money early in the weekend. One of them has broken at least once in the last couple of years during the convention. However, there are a number of other ATMs (at least 10 locations within a mile). If your bank, building society, or other financial institution participates in any international networks, or if you just want to find a nearby ATM, consider checking your financial institution’s “locations” or “find us” web page, MasterCard US, Visa Worldwide, or Co-op ATM (the credit union network in the US).

    Other tips

    I don’t have any other tips yet, but I’d welcome contributions. Leave a comment here (quickest), or tweet me at @gallifreyan, and I’ll try to get your suggestions added.

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  • rsts11 1:32 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Hotelling for Gally 2014 

    2014-03-21 Caveat: This post was written a year ago, in 2013, right after the Gallifrey One hotel blocks sold out. I’ve re-promoted it so you have an idea of how to deal with the rush for April 2014’s hotel grab. In short, DON’T PANIC. There are thousands of rooms within half a mile, you can get two if you want. 

    So my original hotel post on https://gallyhelp.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/hotel-hints/ is a bit outdated, but it is still useful at times.

    And as a reminder, this is an UNofficial site not at all related or affiliated with Gallifrey One / ISL / anything else. I’m just a five-time (now) attendee who doesn’t have the attention span for forums anymore, and wanted to set up a more concise advice site for new and returning Gally attendees.

    But on with the topic.

    This year, there was an official overflow hotel in the Renaissance (also a Marriott property, for those of you in Marriott Rewards), in addition to the LAX Marriott that is the “convention hotel” for Gallifrey One. Based on Marriott web pages, there are a total of 441 rooms at the Renaissance, and  985 rooms at the Marriott. That’s total. Gally discount block is probably a bit fewer. But obviously no more than about 1500 rooms because, well, physics.

    With 3200ish registered members, unless everyone has 1.1 or more people sharing a room with them, this wouldn’t be enough for everyone to be in these hotels. There was a lot of annoyance and sour grapes on Twitter this afternoon about this fact (see also: physics).

    If you have your Gallifrey One membership but didn’t get a room under the discount rates, don’t fret, don’t panic. Or in slightly larger letters.

    DON’T FRET. DON’T PANIC.

    1. Rooms in the block will probably open up between now and then, as people who have to back out cancel their reservations.
    2. The Gallifrey One team are working on expanding the Renaissance block.
    3. There are at least five hotels within half a mile of the LAX Marriott. (Four Points Sheraton, Crowne Plaza, Hilton, Embassy Suites, Sheraton Gateway.) Not as good if you have reasons for needing to be in the hotel (kids, stuff for sale, accessible needs, allergy to hotels not named “LAX Marriott) but quite suitable for many people. There are more a bit further out. Here’s a map.
    4. See #1.

    So if you didn’t get in on the rooms when the discount code went out, you can still get a room for a reasonable price if you have the flexibility with your arrangements. There will also be room share things posted on Gallifrey Base (feel free to mention them in comments here too, or link to your Gallifrey Base post).

    As an aside, if you didn’t get your membership yet, transfers begin this summer, and as about 10% of last year’s memberships were transferred, don’t be surprised to see a fair number of people making their tix available between summer and the end of January 2014. There is still a non-zero chance that you can still go to Gallifrey One next February even if you don’t have a membership or a hotel room yet. Keep an eye on Gallifrey Base, the Gallifrey One facebook and @gallifreyone twitter accounts, and maybe even this page…  more news when it happens.

    If any readers have comments or suggestions regarding hotels around the convention site, please leave them as comments here for other attendees. And as always, thanks for reading GallyHelp.

     
    • dkompare 1:41 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve stayed at the Crowne Plaza the last two years and it’s been perfectly fine. The rooms are actually a little bit nicer than the Marriott’s, and the price is very comparable (though it’ll be a few months before they’re booking February, and it pays to look for deals on Expedia, etc.). It’s only an easy 5 minute walk from the front door of the Marriott. I walked back circa 1:30 am every night (Thurs-Sun) without incident (Century Blvd is blazingly well-lit and fairly busy, even at that time), but if people staying there could coordinate a bit if people would feel safer in groups. Since I had to miss the Marriot-Renaissance hotel room grab today, I’m fine with staying at the CP again.

      That said, no idea about the food quality there, aside from the Starbucks knock-off in the lobby!

      • rsts11 1:54 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for the feedback on this hotel. Crowne Plaza still had rooms available an hour ago for the whole Wednesday-to-Wednesday period. Prepaid from $124.40/night , $137.86/night without prepay, $139.40 prepay breakfast package. Google’s hotel search didn’t go that far but I found the rates on the crowne’s page itself.

        Sheraton Gateway had rooms for $109/night without prepay, I believe… it is about 4 city blocks away, so not for everyone, but looked like a very spacious and comfortable hotel. All of my business travel involves Starwood/Sheraton hotels, and I’ve been very happy with them (and their food tends to be acceptable at least).

    • Amanda 1:57 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      We stayed at the Embassy Suites for our first Gally this year. If you need to feed a lot of people, this isn’t a bad option because there’s an enormous free buffet breakfast with made-to-order eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. The room service menu has family sized combos for things like pizza, salads, and sandwiches. There’s also a fridge, microwave and a safe in the rooms which some hotels in the area don’t seem to have. It is in the $140-$150 a night range, but I’d stay there again if we didn’t get in a hotel block.

      • rsts11 2:41 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Very good info… free breakfast is good, as is at least minimal food handling options in the room. Do you remember what the in-room coffee is like? That’s one of my obsessions, and why I bring my own coffee gear to the Marriott. 🙂

        • Amanda 3:48 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink

          You know, we didn’t ever try the coffee in the room. There must have been a coffee pot, but I can’t remember anything about it. I don’t blame you for bringing your own coffee supplies. We packed bagels and frozen cream cheese packets in our checked bag for similar reasons. 🙂

    • Steph 2:08 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I stayed at the Hilton this last year. It’s just a short stagger down the street (past the parking lot), and therefore not particularly troublesome to get to/from. The rates are Hilton-normal, which means it’s just a wee tad pricier than Marriott, but still something mere mortals can afford if you’re sharing the room/costs.

    • steve 2:14 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      This year wasy first Gally. I got in the Marriott Friday and Saturday.night and the travelodge The rest of the nights. Miraculously I’veanaged to book Wednesday to Saturday in the Marriott today. And booked Sunday night in the travelodge. Can’t wait to do it all again next year for a 2nd time. 🙂

    • Beth H 2:17 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Last year I stayed at the Wingate by Wyndham LAX hotel. It is a bit further from the other hotels – but we were able to walk there in 10 minutes (at night I took a taxi for around $8). The rooms were great – I got a deluxe room with a HUGE bed and it had a couch with a pull-out bed (so you could comfortably sleep 3-4). Free breakfast, 24-hour fitness room, super clean, microwave, mini-fridge (empty – so you don’t have to move around all that over-priced junk). I only paid $89 per night – much lower than the hotels near the Marriott (so it was worth being a bit further).

    • Paul N 2:25 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      This is my first year and was lucky to get Tuesday to Tuesday at the Marriott. Looking forward to going. Anyone tell me more about the Gallifrey Base?

      • rsts11 2:40 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Gallifrey Base is a Doctor Who fan forum site with lots of stuff, including the “official” forums for Gallifrey One. I can’t say how official “official” is, but membership transfers happen there, discussions about ribbons and stuff, and who knows what else? I look in now and then (I’m thetasigma92 over there), but alas am not a regular per se.

        Check it out, it’s free, they don’t spam you, and, well, lots of Doctor Who-ness there.

  • rsts11 1:02 am on January 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Travel Tips 

    Thoughts on getting to and from the Marriott, whether from across the street or across the pond.

    Once you get to Los Angeles

    Marriott LAX phone number:

    1-310-641-5700 or 1-800-228-9290

    Once you get to LAX, follow the signs to hotel shuttles and then watch for the Marriott LAX shuttle bus. You may need to call the Marriott if you don’t see it within 20-30 minutes; once I had to wait a bit longer than that. The shuttle will drop you at the front door of the hotel. If you’re in a hurry, a taxi will run you about $10 one-way according to the hotel website.

    My suggestion… consider other airports near your home if you have them–for me that’s SFO/SJC/OAK–but you can save money and time by flying into LAX and taking the Marriott shuttle. You may have to wait up to an hour… bring a book… but you don’t have to remember how to get there from John Wayne or one of the other airports.

    Finding flights

    Remember that some airlines are playing games with customers by withholding listings from the big travel sites. A few extra minutes searching may save you a big chunk of money. Try ITA Software (see below) to get inspirations on whose websites to look at.

    Shipping trick for beauty products/dealer room spoils

    Something I’m going to try this time… you can ship some of your stuff to the hotel and ship it home again, without having to deal with airport security or extra luggage.

    • Pick up a couple of free flat rate box at your post office, put anything shippable into one and then put the other into your suitcase.
    • (optional) Ship the package to your hotel, noting the name and date on the reservation on your package.
    • Check usps.com or stamps.com for prepaid postage/insurance options or ask at your post office; there are also various shipping locations including a post office and a UPS store between the hotel and the airport.
    • If you don’t use the prepaid postage, you can file for a refund. It will take a week or three but you’ll get your money back.
     
    • Random 9:01 pm on February 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      In the future, I’d recommend http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ for people flying in.
      I use this flight web-crawler to find the cheapest flights everywhere (including this year’s Gally, for which it performed admirably). It’s not a ticket-purchasing service, though it does aggregate results from a fair number of them. It does a much better job than any purchasing service at finding the cheapest flights – but you’ve got to go to the effort of booking the flights it recommends via each individual airline. (Totally worthwhile for the savings.)

    • danncer 11:43 pm on March 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Other LA-area Airports to Consider

      Although LAX is by far the closest airport, there are three smaller airports that service the LA area: Long Beach (LGB), Burbank (BUR), and John Wayne (JWA). They may be less convenient, but the fares are often cheaper than flying into LAX, and I find their smaller size makes them much less stressful than LAX. They are all serviced by SuperShuttle, Prime Time Shuttle, and other shuttle services.

      LGB is only 21 miles from LAX and is served by Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United, and US Airways. JetBlue’s fares are often much lower than the bigger airlines. It is about half way between Disneyland and LAX. Shared shuttle service to the LAX area runs $25-$30 plus tip.

      BUR is only 27 miles from LAX, but the cross-town traffic is usually worse than the traffic between LGB and LAX. It is close to Universal Studios and Hollywood. Shared shuttle service to the LAX area runs $20-$25 plus tip.

      JWA (formerly SNA) is 41 miles from LAX and is 15 miles south of LGB. It is served by AirTran, Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Interjet, Southwest, United, US Airways, and WestJet. It is the nicest of the three airports and is near the Orange County beaches and attractions like Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. Shared shuttle service to the LAX area runs $30-$35 plus tip.

      • rsts11 11:53 pm on March 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for the comments. The Orange County/John Wayne Airport is still SNA from an airline perspective… the branding for the facility leans toward JWA since people don’t know how Anaheim becomes SNA. 🙂 We flew home from there this year.

        There’s also ONT, Ontario Airport, which is about 56 miles away.

        Personally I would consider Burbank only because my division of my company is headquartered in nearby Glendale, and our world headquarters and my credit union are in Burbank proper. Otherwise, LAX is probably the easiest to handle unless you’re going to Disneyland (or other attractions) before or after. In that case, splitting your airports can work, and in modern financial times, it doesn’t cost much more (if any) to do an “open jaw” flight.

    • danncer 12:26 am on March 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for clarifying the SNA/JWA designation. I saw the JWA on the airport’s website and thought it had been officially changed. I do know that SNA stands for Santa Ana, the city the airport is in (even though it’s surrounded by Newport Beach and Irvine). I made a couple other mistakes in my previous post:

      Long Beach (LGB) is served by Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, and US Airways. Burbank is served by Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United, and US Airways. JetBlue also flies into LAX, and it’s my favorite airline. Great fares, leather seats, and individual TV screens!

      I also forgot to show the easiest way to compare fares among the LA-area airports (not including ONT). Just type “QLA” in the destination field, and most travel sites will bring up flights from all four airports. Note that the discounted fares on Southwest Airlines are usually not included so it’s good to check their website if Southwest flies into your local airport.

      • rsts11 12:28 am on March 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        This was only my second time at SNA, first time driving there (we flew into LAX, rented a car LAX to Disneyland, dropped it off at SNA). I got pretty confused by SNA/JWA and Santa Ana/Irvine/Anaheim. Probably as confusing as Bay Area cities are to outsiders (San Francisco airport being half an hour outside San Francisco proper, and all…).

        Thanks again for the contributions.

        • danncer 12:35 am on March 13, 2014 Permalink

          Thanks for setting up this very helpful site, rsts11. I will definitely let people know about it when we start posting about Gallifrey 2015.

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