Once martial arts contestants and coaches decide to follow a large karate tour like NASKA or NBL, they soon realize that participating in this sport is very expensive. Many years ago, I attended a seminar organized by Charlie Lee. He said that the only major difference between many national and local competitors is that national competitors have the funds for travel. I have participated in NBL and NASKA circuits. I have also been involved in international overseas competitions, so over the years I have learned some skills that can help save some of the total cost of participating in the competition.
Most karate tournaments can save money by pre-registering. With many promoters recently adding online registration features, pre-registration is very easy. Of course, if you do not attend the event for some reason, you may lose all costs. Even if you have promised to participate in certain competitions, other circumstances will prevent you from participating in the competition. For example, due to bad weather, I missed the game due to flight cancellation. Due to uncontrollable reasons, flights may also be delayed or missed. Of course, unforeseen emergencies at home will always cause the trip to be cancelled. Therefore, even if you can save some money in a year by pre-registering all events, it is still risky.
Most tournament promoters also set special rates in designated tournament hotels. Considering that most of the event hotels are Hyatt, Sheraton, Hilton and other top major chain hotels, these special fees are usually between $100 to $125, which is quite good. However, I found that if someone is willing to do some research, then it makes more sense. Accommodation can save money. I almost don’t stay in the event hotel anymore. Instead, I will conduct research to find nearby hotels. The map facility on the Yahoo site is very useful for this. Just go to Yahoo and click “Map”. Then enter the address and city of the match hotel. Search for other hotels nearby and the site will show you their location on the map and the distance to the active hotel. I also use travel sites such as Travelocity and Expedia to verify other hotels nearby. Many hotels are usually much cheaper, especially hotels of lower quality. In addition to travel websites, I will check room rates directly with Choice Hotels (Comfort Inn, Econolodge, Quality Inn), Holiday Inn, Days Inn and Motel 6 through their websites. The rooms of these chain stores are not as luxurious as the large hotels, but they are clean and comfortable. They are not at the bottom of the bucket like some independent motels. The room rate can even be 50% lower than the championship room rate of the event hotel. My average room rate is about US$50, which usually includes free breakfast, which is rarely provided by event hotels.
Many lower-priced hotels are within walking distance of the championship. Even if the hotel is not within walking distance, it is usually worth spending some money to save some taxi fares. I even stayed in a hotel near the airport, and then used the free hotel shuttle from where I lived and the event hotel for activities. Of course, none of this is as convenient as staying in an event hotel, but if you are willing to plan ahead, you can save a lot. Of course, if I extend my stay for vacation purposes, then renting a car will allow me to stay anytime and anywhere.
Another way to cut hotel expenses in half is to leave immediately after the game. You will miss the evening show, but if you don’t mind, you will only need to spend the night instead of two nights. In a year’s time, a one-night trip can save a lot of money.
Driving by car is the most economical way to participate in the championship, but if the location is too far away, then flying by air will be the most realistic way to reach the destination. You can also explore the train. As for flights, you can wait for seat sales to buy tickets. Another strategy is to fly into or out of different airports near the active city. If you are willing to use other airports, you can save significant flight prices. Some cities have multiple major airports in the area. Alternative airports can also reduce travel costs for competitors who must cross the US-Canada border. Canadians who drive across the border to a U.S. airport can sometimes save up to 50% on flight costs. Passengers should participate in all frequent flyer programs, but if possible, try to live with one or two major airlines. Points will indeed increase, which may lead to free flights in the future. Of course, points earned from hotel stays, car rentals and credit cards are also helpful.
As mentioned earlier, I will try to use the free hotel shuttle bus. If my hotel does not have a free shuttle bus and is close to the event hotel, sometimes I will take the free shuttle bus from the event hotel and walk to my hotel. I also often use the shuttle bus from the event hotel to take a ride back to the airport. Just hang out in the lobby of the event hotel so that you look like a guest and no one can question your use of the shuttle.
Many cities hosting large-scale competitions have very efficient and safe public transport systems from the airport. For example, instead of paying for a taxi or airport shuttle, you can easily take part in the race by spending about $1.50 on a local bus or subway.
Therefore, as you can see, there are many ways to reduce the total cost of karate tournament travel. You only need to research each trip. As for the meals, you can always play dumb in the Chinese buffets that can be found almost everywhere at reasonable prices.