In the last two years, I've known some ministers who attend GA without attending GA. That is, they come to the city of the General Assembly, but don't register for General Assembly. In doing so, they save registration costs, but are still able to have lunch and dinner meetings with colleagues, or churches, if they're in search, or meet with denominational committees if necessary. There are a few GA events that are open to the public, as well -- Sunday morning worship, and the Service of the Living Tradition, and the exhibit hall on Sunday. This year there are even more, since any person can attend the witness events that are held outside of the convention center, and that includes more events this year.
There are always good UU events to be found outside of the General Assembly programming, too, and this year I find myself, although registered for GA, interested in attending more of it. One high-profile example is an event hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee at the Hyatt tomorrow: a conversation with Bill Schulz (UUSC president, and former UUA president, and former Amnesty International president or director or whatever the top title is there) and Anita Hill (yes, that Anita Hill!). (3:30-5:00, Hyatt Ballroom AB)
Another interesting opportunity is the ability to see The Minister's War tonight, tomorrow, or Sunday evening, or screenings of the shorter version throughout the days. (Full screenings at 6, 8, and 10pm at 222 E. Monroe St.) There's a suggested donation of $5 for this.
All this means is it's a good year to be even around GA, and there's plenty to do without registering. But that opportunity to hear Michelle Alexander alone was worth the registration, in my opinion. And, of course, I get to vote in the plenaries, which is important, although you can do that as an off-site delegate, but there was still a $100 fee for that.
Still, I can see the possibility of saving money in future years by coming to the GA city, attending some events electronically and some events off-site, and just making the most of what's available. I might actually get to see something of the city, too, if I did that. Many years at GA there are suggested sight-seeing things to do in these interesting locations, and I've never taken the time off or added time on to do those things. To take one day off in a full day of meetings is reasonable by work standards, but it's harder to justify when I've paid money to be at the things that are offered that day. So, this is definitely something to think about more for future years as a viable option.