Are you your team’s biggest fan, following them around the country to visit all the stadiums in the league? Or do you go big, traveling to enjoy the Olympics, World Cup soccer or even an F1 Grand Prix? You’re not alone, millions of people travel every year to enjoy a sporting event of some sort from minor league baseball to The Big Game. No matter your interests or budget, there are some tips to keep in mind so that you can spend more time enjoying your favorite athletic event and not sweating any travel mishaps.
The Olympics in Rio is an excellent example of why it’s good to know what the environment looks like before you go. They experienced metro issues, demonstrations, and strikes leading up to the games.
Research the location you’re visiting before you go to see if there are any issues you’ll need to plan around. Visas, vaccinations, and customs regulations are great places to start. Are visas, permits, or specific shots required where you’ll be going? If so, make sure to have the correct paperwork in hand before you leave home. (Pro Tip: double check that the visa is valid throughout the duration of your visit and that your visa information matches the information on your passport.
You’ll be at the venue for the entire match, so prepare accordingly. If it’s hot make sure you have sunscreen or protective clothing and take layers if the game might run past sundown; some locations can get especially chilly after dark.
What if there is an issue and you have to cancel the trip or miss a flight? Don’t let travel interruptions put you on the DL; make sure your plans are covered by travel insurance before you go.
Be extra vigilant in crowded places and on public transportation. An away game or large event is a gathering of individuals who are unfamiliar with the city. This means there will be a higher number of pickpockets and you are an increasingly better target the closer you get to the stadium - even more so if you are wearing the opponent’s colors.
Give yourself extra time: The larger the event, the more likely you will have additional security screenings and possible disruptions.
Have a plan for the “what if’s”: Create a plan for your group if you’re separated; identify landmarks both within and outside of the venue as emergency meet-up points.
Secure your valuables in the hotel instead of carrying them with you around town.
Transportation: The influx of people may create a transport vacuum. Once my family and I walked across the entirety of Paris after the millennium New Year’s festivities for lack of any taxis.
The facilities - Infrastructure, safety standards and risk management practices can vary from country to country and from venue to venue. Identify the exits, medical facility, and security posts as you enter and know how to get to them in the event of an emergency. If there is an emergency, stay with your group and follow security instructions/head towards the exits calmly.
Crowd management is one of the major concerns at any large venue; this means that crowd rush is a possibility if things get crazy. Stay with your group by locking arms and avoid moving against a large crowd. If possible, move diagonally with the crowd until you get to the edges and can exit easily.
Traveling with the team is an excellent way to feel part of the action and show your support. While traveling, remember that you are a guest and should be the shining representative of your team and city or country. Rest easy by covering your experience with travel insurance, and above all enjoy the event but know what you would do in the case of an emergency.
Former travel disaster, now a serial traveler, travel safety advisor, and author of The Travel Safety Handbook. Poster boy for learning from others mistakes. Now I provide travelers with the tools to focus on their travel goals; I advise business travelers,prepare study-abroad students and equip families with the knowledge to return home successful with memories that will last a lifetime, not horror stories. Follow JC on his blog at Travel-Safer.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
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