Opinionated Gamers Travel Guides coming soon!

Reposting the Essen report from last year got me thinking about traveling… One of the projects that we’ve been working on in the background for the past few weeks are travel guides to the biggest gaming events.

The writing staff here at the OG is spread out all over the world, and we’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many different conventions from these varied home locations.  What we’d like to do is share our travel experiences with you – both during the event as well as traveling to and from.  We hope to cover highlights of things we like to do during the fair: events not to be missed, things not necessarily mentioned in the program, etc.  We also will try to pool our recommendations on where to eat/sleep/park you car, etc.

They’re definitely still a work in progress, but we’re working hard on getting things together for the following gaming events:

  • Origins (Late June/Early July – Columbus, OH)
  • GenCon (August – Indianapolis, IN)
  • Essen Spiel (October – Essen, Germany)
  • BGG.con (November – Dallas, TX)

Other events we’re considering starting up work on include:

  • Nuremberg (February – Nuremberg, Germany)
  • Kublacon (May- San Francisco, CA)
  • World Boardgaming Championships (August – Lancaster, PA)
  • Dragon*Con (September – Atlanta, GA)

Hopefully the Origins guide will be done in the next few weeks and posted here on the blog, and we’ll try to post up the others as they approach on the calendar.

Any suggestions on what other events to cover?  Any subjects you’d like to see covered within each travel guide?  If so, leave them in the comments below…

And, while we’re on the subject of travel, it starting to get close to the time for many of us to start thinking about the trip to Essen… For me, travel to domestic events can be done last minute, but I find that there is a LOT more planning involved in the international trip for Spiel each October.

I still plan on going this year, and I have been asked to assist with an organized tour that will include the Spiel fair in its itinerary.  Below the jump is a short interview with Teras Cassidy, the organizer of the tour, to answer some questions about the tour that you might have.  If you’re interested, read on… If not, skip the rest of this post and just keep your eyes peeled for the travel guides to come in the near future!

(In the interest of full disclosure: I am not employed by Geek Nation Tours (GNT) nor do I have any financial stake in GNT. I was simply asked to help out with some of the planning of the tour and to participate in the activities for a few days.  In return, GNT will cover a portion of my personal travel expenses.  I do not receive any commission nor any other form of monetary compensation from GNT, but I wanted to make clear that I do get some benefit from the tour.  However, even if I wasn’t involved with this tour, I think that it is a great opportunity to see some sights and make it to Essen, and as such,  I think it’s relevant to talk about it a bit here… – Dale)

Dale Yu: What is Geek Nation Tours all about?  How did you get started?

Teras Cassidy: Geek Nation Tours is a tour company that arranges Geeky trips all around the world for geeks by geeks.  It is interested in creating holidays for people that have a passion for a geeky thing/hobby or events but also has a mandate of getting people of like mind together to celebrate what they love to do.

Geek Nation Tours was started by combining what we love to do with our travel business. I have been in the tourism industry for over 15 years now and Geek Nation Tours has grown from those roots.

DY: How can I be sure that this is legit? Is there a travel agency behind this?

TC: Geek Nation Tours is a secondary business arising from two other travel agencies which are franchises of Marlin Travel.  Marlin Travel is one of Canada’s biggest travel companies with locations all across the country.  We pride ourselves on supplying only the very best and the most secure travel all around the world.  Marlin Travel is owned by Transat Distribution and Geek Nation Tours uses it vast experience and contacts to create only the finest tours possible.

DY:  Can you tell us about previous successful Geek Nation Tours?

TC:  Sure, Geek Nation Tours has had several successful tours – for instance we travelled to San Diego for the San Diego Comic Con and it was great.  Not only was the convention incredible but the after conventioneering bar and restaurant talk was a blast. Where else could you meet up with like minded people and have interesting (and somewhat loud) conversations about why Superman is a good or bad character and what super hero movies suck…?  Our UK miniatures tour was tremendous…we toured castles and military museums – stopped at Games Workshop’s Warhammer world – played games all night and even indulged in a beer or two…
DY: How did you decide on Essen as a tour destination?

TC: We have visited Board Game Geek for some time now and have seen it mentioned there over the years.  It actually is quite a perfect destination as Geek Nation Tours likes to make sure each tour has something more than just the geek destination for our participants.  Essen will be the tour’s focus for sure but we also get to see a lot of stuff in Holland and explore more than just the convention.

DY:  Who are you targeting with the Essen Experience Tour?  Is it just for gamers?

TC: Well our main target are geeks that love to talk about and are incredibly excited about what geeks them out.  Most of our tour participants are successful – highly social people and GNT is very proud to see that mingling of like minded participants happens not only spontaneously but almost instantly.  All of our tours have created instant friendships spanning the globe.

As for “just gamers” … not at all…We all know that we geeks often have non-geek spouses or friends that would like to come along on the tour.  These tours are for them also.  We often arrange sub-tours for these participants or even provide guides for them while the rest of us geek out.  Our “Parallel Universes” department was created for just this purpose.  If she wants to go to a spa while we are on tour or if he wants to go to a football game we can take care of that too.

DY:  What makes this better than trying to organize a trip myself?

TC: We take care of everything.  There is no worry about if a hotel is book or if it is close enough to the venue.  We can take care of the air from all around the world also taking that worry away from you too.  We are also there with you “on the ground” helping you get from one place to another but also conventioning with you so if you have any questions or concerns we are with you all the way.

We also always have an exclusive “How to Get the Best out of Your Convention” meal that gives people advice on how to best experience that particular conventiuon.  For instance you will be there helping those on the tour out and explain what to do during the convention itself (btw we also sometimes have at least one set of email about this prior to the tour’s departure) to make sure you have an unforgettable geeky experience.

With all that said I really must come back to the travelling with like minded persons.  The people you will meet on the tour will only enhance your trip. You will talk about the game you love, debate about which ones are good or not and why, exchange experiences and plans for other days on the tour..and just have a really really great time.  You will make friends from all over the world too…

DY:  What are the dates? Cost of the tour?  What’s included?

TC:  The price of the tour is $2799.00 CAD per person including all taxes and fees. You can find all the tour details at http://www.geeknationtours.com/index.php?pageid=31&tourid=5 but really most of what a person would want on a tour is included.  Convention and most other entry fees are included, all transfers, all accommodations, all breakfasts, a first night welcome dinner, five dinners in Essen, several sub tours in Amsterdam, and our exclusive “How to Get the Best Out of Your Essen Spiel” dinner…Finally air from Toronto is also included in this price.

DY:  What if I don’t want to leave from Toronto?

TC: We also have a “Land Only” price that includes all of the above but excludes the air from Toronto.  This price is $2200.00 and allows you to choose air travel from anywhere in the world.  You can for instance fly from Malaysia to Germany instead. Geek Nation Tours is only too happy to help you with this also.

We do recommend that those coming from North America come to Toronto so we can fly as a group but that is up to each individual…

DY:  What can people expect from the non-Essen days?  Would it be similar to a Globus or Trafalgar tour?  How will we get around?  Who will be our tourguides?

TC: There will be similarities with those types of tours of course – for instance we will go from city to city by bus (all included of course), go on some very specific tourist like sub-tours (visit some wind mills in Holland for instance) but really that is where the similarities end.  Remember that you will be travelling with like minded people all wanting to visit the Essen Spiel. This means that ever person on the tour (including the non-geek spouses) will have an “interest” in all things boardgaming.  You will most likely game each night and talk about gaming through-out the tour.   There will also be plenty of free time for you to visit places of interest and to take in all the other things Holland and Amsterdam have to offer…

DY:  What will the days in Essen be like?

TC: Filled with Essen Spiel goodness for sure.  I will be there Geeking out with everyone but also arranging a taxi to bring our “loot” back to the hotel.  You can shop to your heart’s content and not have to worry about carrying all your stuff back to the hotel or leaving the Spiel. We will also be getting together each and every night for dinner.  Here we will revisit the day’s events with others and get hints on what to do the next day.  We will be swapping Spiel “War stories” for sure and this always adds to the excitement of the con itself.  What’s more the crew from Board Game Geek will stop by and have the odd drink with us.  I am sure that will give us a lot of insight into the Spiel also … not to mention loads more fun.

For those that want to get away and not Spiel everyday there will be a Geek Nation Tours representative to help plan your day or to hang out with visiting the sites around Essen.

DY:  If I need more information, who do I contact?

TC: Sure if you have any questions what-so-ever contact me at headgeek@geeknationtours.com or visit us at www.geeknationtours.com … the tour itself can be seen at: http://www.geeknationtours.com/index.php?pageid=31&tourid=5

DY:  What is the deadline for booking the tour?

TC: We are fast approaching all of our deadlines so book soon! For instance – if you book by May 31st you will be entered into our “Essen Shopping Spree” draw (check out the full details at the above link).  The final date for booking this tour is June 15th and so if you are interested you really need to take advantage of the tour asap.

Keep in mind that we also only have space for 35 people and those are filling up.  You can book and secure your spot by filling out your personal information at: http://www.geeknationtours.com/index.php?pageid=4 … No form of payment is needed at this point as a Geek Nation Tours representative will contact you via the phone to talk tour and payment details.

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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6 Responses to Opinionated Gamers Travel Guides coming soon!

  1. Randy Cox says:

    Travel Guide option: WBC. I don’t understand why boardgaming fans who enjoy Dragon*Con don’t also want to know about WBC. From a boardgaming perspective, WBC is miles beyond DC. Sure, DragonCon has all that other stuff that has nothing to do with boardgaming, but that’s a different story.

    So, I don’t know what these travel guides will be like, but I’d think WBC should certainly be in the top 4 or 5 under consideration.

  2. Dale Yu says:

    Randy – yes, WBC is on the list. I left it out by accident! I’ll fix the original post…


  3. Valerie Putman says:

    I have often written about WBC in my Prose on Cons columns in the past (on boardgamenews) and I have consistently reviewed WBC as the best convention for tournaments, of course, but also for families with kids. It will continue to get coverage in my convention coverage, for sure.

    • Randy Cox says:

      Yes, I’ve read your comments about WBC. I just wanted to make sure that if there’s a formal “Travel Guide” the WBC made it into the list. While I haven’t made it in a few years, I always considered it to be the best open-to-the-public open gaming convention (though this was before BGG.con existed). I approach it as an opportunity to play any scheduled game as though it’s just open gaming. Win or lose, just drop out after one round and move on (unless you’re into the tournament thing, in which case you can advance).

  4. Jeff Wolfe says:

    Origins is in late June this year (22-26), and starting next year it will be in late May/Early June.


  5. Rick Baptist says:

    Los Angeles has three Strategicons every year — our con in February attracted ~1,500 gamers and today starts our second con of the year. I have heard pre-reg numbers are terrific so looking forward to another big attendance. The con focuses on board games, and RPGs, and is branching into all kinds of entertainment (game shows, video games, improv, yoga). Guest of Honor in February was Bruno Faidutti with Justin Gary, and this time we’ll have Jeff Siadek of Gorilla Games. It’s a great three cons and deserves some exposure.

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