The Frugal Journo Does Charlotte on Skim Budget

Going to the Democratic National Convention on peanuts isn’t easy. But Amy Lotven, a reporter and editor at Inside Health Policy, pulled it off. She calls her two-day trip there last week, “an uber duber cheapo visit to the DNC.”

Lotven’s employers gave her approval to attend only a week prior to the convention. On a bad note: She was uncredentialed. But much to her surprise she was able to secure transportation and a room within walking distance to Convention Center activities. Grand total: $268.

We asked if she traveled by horse. She replied, “No horse (I wish), but I did take a$10  pedicab at one point (not conducive to keeping prices down, but fun).” To be sure, Lotven took steps to keep costs down. She rented a car via — $34 a day, which she split with her partner in crime (another uncredentialed reporter). Cost: $69 a piece. For lodgings, they found a private condo owned by a “very cool” Charlotte resident on AirBnB — this amounted to $140 a night for two nights, plus tax ($157 each). The condo was approximately 12 blocks from the Convention Center. Gas ran a total of about $85.

For food, Lotven skipped lunch, nibbled on free goodies at various panels, ate “doo dads” and “drank strange cocktails” at a reception and attended as many open bar parties as possible. For breakfast one day, for example, she attended a healthcare breakfast sponsored by The Hill — the key word being breakfast. Later in the day, The Hill, AARP and others sponsored a food-filled panel. That night she paid for dinner herself and watched former President Bill Clinton‘s speech.

More kudos to The Hill. On both Tuesday and Wednesday she spent a decent amount of time in a Hill-sponsored hospitality lounge, but says she didn’t really eat too much there. Lotven plans on invoicing for the car, condo and gas, but not food or other items.