Last year, I attended TESOL Convention for the first time; I had already attended other conventions, but this one exceeded my expectations completely in terms of organization, variety and selection of sessions, and, finally, the extensive opportunities for networking— which, by the way, can be done at the same time you get to know the city where the convention is taking place.
I have been to Atlanta before, and I hope you find the following tips useful and handy when you are planning activities and what to visit after the sessions with the new acquaintances you made during the day.
1. Purchase a City Pass Atlanta
City Pass is a booklet that allows you to enter five different attractions in the city without queuing and saves you money on entrance tickets. I have purchased it when I went to Boston, New York, and California, and every single time I have used it I have saved not only money, but also time. The attractions included in Atlanta are: Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca- Cola, CNN Studios, Zoo Atlanta or Center for Civil and Human Rights, Fernbank Museum of Natural History or College Football Hall of Fame.
Source: City Pass Atlanta
2. Get a MARTA Bus or Rail and the Streetcar Pass
Last TESOL Convention in Chicago, I purchased a subway/bus pass, and I found it very useful and money-saving, and it helped me move around town easily and effortlessly. Although the fare per trip is US$1, I would recommend getting the 7-day pass that costs US$11. If you choose this option, you will have to purchase it using the Atlanta Streetcar app.
Source: MARTA Atlanta Streetcar
3. Try Airbnb Instead of Booking a Hotel
If finding a good deal when booking a hotel is becoming a nightmare, try Airbnb instead. I booked a room really close to the TESOL Convention in Chicago (about a 15-minute walking distance). The best piece of advice I can give you is to make your reservation by using the “superhost” criteria when looking, so that you make sure you will get a very good deal safely. Make sure you look for a place that is close enough to the convention center.
4. Download the “Discover Atlanta” Official App
Whenever I travel to any city in the United States, I always try to find the official site of the city, which sometimes is linked to an app, because in this way you can get some discounts, free tickets, maps of the city, offers, and a calendar of events (sometimes these events are free). Download the Discover Atlanta official app here.
I hope you find these tips handy and useful! One extra tip for those of you traveling solo is not to be afraid of talking to the teacher next to you in the sessions; meeting ELT professionals during the event is also part of this experience, and you never know if a teacher next to you might be a local one, and can share with you a few tips more or even be your tourist guide.
Erika Mejía has been working as a trainer and English language teacher for more than 10 years. She has worked at language institutes like Berlitz and bilingual private institutes in Mexico City and Campeche. She currently works in a bilingual private elementary school and has presented as a speaker at the MEXTESOL International Convention and Academic Saturday Sessions for the MEXTESOL CDMX Chapter.