Salt Lake City on a Shoestring

Self-employed ACS member John K. Borchardt isn’t afraid to admit that he’s a “cheapskate” when it comes to his spending habits at ACS national meetings and other scientific conferences. After all, frugal is in. Borchardt says he always shares a hotel room with a friend with whom he splits the cost, he’s been known to make a beeline for the free hors d’oeuvres during receptions and social hours, and he often keeps a stash of breakfast bars to get him through the day. He used to go as far as looking through the local phone book and mapping out all the fast food restaurants near his hotel (this was before the Internet and Mapquest). But now, he says, he has to be more conscientious about his health. Volunteering can also get you a free meal, says Borchardt. By serving as an ACS Career Consultant, Borchardt says he will get free breakfast and lunch every day of the meeting in Salt Lake City. Borchardt’s more than 30 years of experience scrimping and saving at ACS meetings and other scientific conferences are the subject of a poster he’s presenting at Sci-Mix on Monday night (PROF 4). As much of a penny pincher as Borchardt is, he cautions against sacrificing your overall experience for the sake of saving a few bucks. He says he frequently takes students and former advisors out for dinner. “There’s saving money, and there’s being a nice guy,” he says. “If I have to choose between the two, I’d rather be a nice guy.” This C&EN reporter plans to do her part in helping ACS save on her travel expenses. She’ll be bringing a small cooler to Salt Lake City and will stock up on bread, sandwich meats, and produce at the downtown Whole Foods Market (645 E 400 S), which is a 1.2 mile hike from the Salt Palace Convention Center. By the way, here’s a link to some downtown cheap eats: Got a thrifty tip to share? Feel free to blog about it here!

Author: Linda Wang

Associate Editor, Chemical & Engineering News

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  1. It is people like Borchardt that make all the prostitutes leave down whenever the ACS conference rolls around, due to the thrifty nature of Chemists. That being said, I can usually make a breakfast from the press room muffins.

  2. Great post! At conferences, I tend to be very frugal about my accommodations and airfare, but very liberal with my dining expenses. At the Chicago meeting, I stayed with a complete stranger who offered up her futon on couchsurfing, and went out to several fun ethnic restaurants. Exploring the culinary scene near a meeting is just too much fun. With that said, some of the best restaurants can also be the cheapest.