Low budget options for MageTestFest

With MageTestFest coming up in only 5 weeks, it is time to make up your minds: MageTestFest has all the ingredients to be the most unique Magento event of 2017. It would be a shame if you missed out. And because this might be a budget question as well, here are some tips to attend this developer event on a low budget.

Why, why, why?

As a reminder, what is at stake here? MageTestFest is a unique event, one of its kind so far. While there have been various MeetMagentos and MageTitans, they all have one thing in common: A call for speakers and therefore a huge variety of topics. Because of this, certain topics are never dealt with thoroughly. MageTestFest changes this: It focuses on automated testing (unit testing, integration testing) solely. And it has the best speakers on stage, specifically for this topic.

Most important event of 2017

Magento core developers like Max Yekaterynenko and Igor Miniailo have already mentioned this to be the most important event of the year (besides Imagine). And Magento gurus like James Cowie and Vinai Kopp can't wait for this event to actually start. Who are we to disagree with them?

MageTestFest will be a much-talked-about event and it might also be a one-time-only event: So if you're missing this, you miss out on a lot!

Convinced? Let's see how we can save you some money.

Getting to The Netherlands

MageTestFest takes place in a smaller town Amersfoort - close to Amsterdam and Utrecht - and easily reachable by train. So either you can hop on a train if you're coming in from somewhere in Western Europe, or you can fly in via Schiphol Airport (aka Amsterdam Airport) and take a train from there. Trains are fairly cheap and they normally are on time - except for our autumns but because Dutch trains are the only ones in the world to get square wheels because of leaves on the tracks (true story). Ok, moving on.

Check out airlines like Ryan Air and EasyJet. And make sure to check for hop-overs as a means to save money. I'm personally always checking out multiple booking sites to check for cheaper tickets. Having previous cookies set does not make much difference for me, but starting an anonymous browser session might make a difference for you.

Also, take note that most people fly in via Schiphol Airport, but there are alternatives as well: For instance, Eindhoven is used by lots of cheaper airlines and it has an easy train connection to Amersfoort.

General options for staying

MageTestFest takes place in 4 days - first 2 days of workshops, then the main event, then a Contribution Day. I'm not saying that you should attend all 4 days (well, yes, I would actually say so), but if you do stay multiple days, saving on hotel costs could be really worth the additional work.

We have mentioned some options for lodging in the Accommodation section on the MageTestFest Location page, but here is some more guidance:

  • The Mercure Hotel is closest but kind of expensive.
  • If you are looking for a budget option, make sure to check up on Booking.com and check it regularly. Hotels often vary their prices - even Mercure does so itself - so if you want to have a discount, this is a good option. I personally have a Genius option as well (because I have used Booking.com various times), so if you travel a bit, using Booking.com becomes cheaper in the long run.
  • Alternatively, there are also some AirBnb options.

Unfortunately, there are little hostels around in Amersfoort, but keep reading:

Renting a bungalow

Last but not least, the Yireo team is renting a bungalow in a bungalow park called the Eekhoorn Nest (Squirrel Nest). If you are with more people, renting a bungalow pays off, especially if you are staying multiple days. For ourselves, we have booked a bungalow for about 5 days for a price of 800 Euro with 8 beds. This calculates into 20 Euro per bed per night. It is dead cheap.

The only downsides are that you need to supply your own food (well, we do have supermarkets in The Netherlands) and you need to arrange for transport: The bungalow park is too far to walk. However, a 10-minute cab ride should only cost about 15 Euro (3 people) and most likely, you'll share that ride with others.

Booking the bungalow might be a bit harder because not everybody has a team of 8 people coming over. There are bungalows of various sizes. What we can do for you is act as an agent: Let us know if you are interested in this bungalow option and we'll try to book the bungalow for you, squeezing people in as we go along and simply dividing the costs between the people sharing the bungalow. It makes up for a real fun and social way of sleeping over at a budget. Just email me at jisse@yireo.com if you are interested.

Getting around

The city of Amersfoort is small, so you can easily walk from one end of the city centre to another. Be aware that there are suburbs that make Amersfoort more wide-spread - stay away from those suburbs. If you are staying in or around the city centre, you can do everything on foot.

Because this is the Netherlands, there is the option to rent a bicycle. This can be done through the OV Fiets which is run by the Dutch railway system. It is kind of a procedure to book a bicycle. But it will provide you with a real Dutch experience. Just take note that we locals ride bikes without helmets - we simply take care of ourselves, we are not children anymore. A helmet is only acceptable if it is a Magneto helmet.

If you are nearby the venue and still want to take a taxi, charges most likely are under 10 Euro. All cabs are metered and the chance of getting ripped off is really really small. It only happened to me a few times when I was too drunk to walk.

Eating out with a budget

Well, there are numerous options to eat out, especially by walking into the city centre. There are too many places to choose from. A very popular Dutch site - Iens - also has an international counterpart The Fork which lists the same options in English. Each restaurant is mentioned with a price indication.

Summarizing

To summarize, there are quite a few options to allow for MageTestFest to be a great event, without spending too much money. This should open up for companies that have spent most of their budget to still send some developers over to this determining conference.

Also, everybody who is experienced with testing will be able to tell you that testing also saves time and money in the long run. So that would make attending MageTestFest not just an expense, but actually a really smart investment.

Hope to see you in a couple of weeks time!