Unemployed, Take 2: Day 8

26 Mar 2024

Two of the biggest highlights of my tech career thus far have been attending RailsConf in both 2022 and 2023. It was my first time visiting either Portland, Oregon or Atlanta, Georgia, and I reveled in the opportunity to be a tourist in a strange new city. I found the speakers, panels, and workshops I attended both years to be both informative and entertaining. The people I met helped me feel like part of a larger community of Ruby on Rails developers. And the exhibit hall opened my mind to the different possibilities a career specializing in the Rails platform could lead to. Each year, I came back with pages of notes, dozens of connections, and an eagerness to bring the lessons I had learned back to the companies I worked for.

2024 is different though. I no longer have a current employer to sponsor my trip. My main goal in attending is no longer to soak up the latest ideas in the community, but to obtain a job. And my path towards the conference seems rockier than ever.

I am wholly convinced that my singlest best opportunity for finding a high-paying, long-lasted, and emotionally satisfying role is by attending this year’s RailsConf. It is a singular opportunity to make new connections, hear about open roles, and showcase in-person my expertise and personality. Unfortunately, it will cost over two thousand dollars to get there. I’ve document all of the expenses in this spreadsheet. I’ll break them down in a bit more detail below.


This is probably the most straightforward. I missed the volunteer application deadline. If I’m going to attend RailsConf this year, I will need to pay the individual registration rate, which is currently $750.00. This price will increase after March 31st, so there is pressure for me to decide whether or not to register before that date.


Each year, RubyCentral partners with a nearby hotel to provide special rates for conference goers. This year, that hotel is the Detroit Mariott at the Renaissance Center. The cheapest rate they are offerince RailsConf attendees is $212.00 per night. In order to attend all three days of the conference, I would need to arrive on Monday, May 5th and checkout out on Friday, May 10th. Four nights at $212 per night, plus $127.20 in taxes and fees, totals up to $975.20 in hotel expenses for the trip.

There may be cheaper hotels and AirBnB options that are farther from the conference location. How realistic those options are requires further investigation. For now, this will serve as a good approximation of what I can expect to spend on lodging in Detroit during the conference.


Detroit is over 760 miles away from Kansas City. It’s about a twelve-hour drive each way, or a two-hour non-stop flight. The costs, when taken all together, are roughly comperable.

The cheapest flight I could find from Kansas City to Detroit and back was on Delta, and it ended up being $486.20 for a round-trip economy fare with fees and taxes included.

If I were to drive, I’d need to rent a car so that my wife can still get around KC while I’m gone. I found an economy car rental offer on Priceline for $34.90 per day. If I rented the car Monday morning and returned it Friday afternoon, the total would be $288.66. ($34.90 per day * five days + $114.16 in taxes and fees) There would also be an estimated additional $135.33 spent on gas needed for the trip, bringing the total for taking a car to $423.99.


The total cost, whether I fly to Detroit or drive, is roughly the same.

$750 for registration + $975.20 in lodging + $486.20 in airfare = $2,211.40 total to fly

$750 for registration + $975.20 in lodging + $423.99 for roadtrip = $2,149.19 total to drive

Either way, it’s a lot of money. But if I acquire a good position at solid company from this conference, then I’d consider it a good investment. I could use some help making that investment, however. If you are able to sponsor any or all of these conference expenses, please contact me. I consider myself a proud man, but I am not above begging for help in this moment. Please, help me get to RailsConf in Detroit.