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PAX Survival Handbook – Food

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert about conventions or PAX, but just thought I’d share my observations from my first PAX.  Maybe it helps you, maybe not…

  • Fast food during PAX won’t be fast.  Most fast food chains within walking distance of the convention center are going to be very busy during peak hours.  You might wait in line for over a half hour at a food court.
  • Nicer restaurants and restaurants farther from the convention center will be less busy, but will cost you more in both cash & time.
  • Remember that you’re budgeting not only your money, but also your time.  Waiting in line at a food court or fancy restaurant means you can’t be at the convention center waiting in line for panels or playing games.
  • If you stay until the convention center closes (after concerts), most places to eat will be closed when you leave.
  • The convention center doesn’t open until usually around 10AM. You’ll have plenty of time for breakfast, unless you want to wait in early lines for concert wrist bands.
  • You may just be having such a good time that you lose track of time and miss a meal.
  • Both PAX Prime and PAX East are in towns where you can get great specialty foods, and good seafood.
  • Sunday the expo closes earlier.  That’s a good night to get together with your travel companions or new friends and go out to a fancy dinner.
  • You’re going to be on the run, don’t forget to drink water.  You don’t want to get sick from being dehydrated.  I made it a habit to drink a glass of water every time I was in the hotel room.

During my first PAX, I happened to bring some packaged food in my suitcase, just in case I got stuck at the airport, arrived late, missed a flight, needed a snack, or something along those lines.  It worked out well for me.  Several times I got back to the room at 2am and was hungry, or just needed a snack before running back to the convention center.

PAX Rations

I’d suggest you should bring whatever packaged food you can in your suitcase or car (if driving).  Think granola/breakfast/energy bars, trail mix or dried fruit, pop tarts, that sort of thing.  If you’re going to arrive to PAX early, you may want to consider a quick run to a convenience store or grocery to grab some lunchmeat or peanut butter & jelly or whatever you’ll have the ability to prepare and store in your hotel room.  If you figure most fast food meals would run say $5-7 and 30-60 minutes of your time.  It may be worth it to you to just run up to your room for 15 minutes and grab a bite to eat.  I ate one or two meals a day in my hotel room, as I felt like it, and was able to get a little more time in the convention center, and play in a tournament some of my friends missed.

Breakfast at the Lenox Hotel

I rationalized it this way, I figured I was saving money each time I ate in the hotel room.  I adjusted my budget for one really nice meal out each day.  I ended up really enjoying going with friends to a nice lunch at a local pub, or heading out for a steak & seafood dinner after a long day at the convention.  Grabbing a really good sit-down breakfast at the hotel restaurant before heading over to the convention center was great.

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