Any links in this post to a merchant may contain an affiliate link, which means that if you click on that link and then buy something, I may earn a commission from it. However, all opinions in this link are 100% mine and 100% honest. If I didn't believe in a particular product, I wouldn't recommend it to you.
Bowl season is almost here! These games can be so much fun! Some of our best memories from college football trips involve these end-of-season games. But, bowl games are not like regular season games. You have to take a different approach to them in order to get the most out of your trip. Here are some tips to help you to maximize your bowl game experience.
Tip #1: Plan Early
Due to the short time period between team selection and the actual bowl game, travel for these trips must be planned with relatively little notice. However, to get the most out of your bowl game experience, you need to make plans as early as possible. As soon as you know where your team is going, book your hotel and, if necessary, flight. The sooner you book your trip, the more options you will have to choose from.
Tip #2: Get Your Tickets
Once you have your travel arrangements made, get your game tickets. You have several options for this. The first option you should try is to buy the tickets directly from your school. You can usually do this by contacting your school’s ticket office. However, some colleges reserve their allotment of tickets for donors or season ticket holders or use a priority point or lottery system for their tickets. If this is the case and you can’t get them through the school, try getting your tickets through the opposing school’s ticket office. The only downside to this option is that you will be sitting amidst fans from that school. Another option is to buy tickets directly from the bowl game’s organizers through the official bowl game website.
Tip #3: Stay Close to the Action
When choosing where to stay during your bowl game experience, I suggest staying as close to the action as possible. Now, depending on which bowl you will be attending, this may mean picking a hotel near the stadium, downtown, or another popular area of the city. The point is, you want to stay as close as possible to where all of the activities will be taking place. Ideally, you want to stay close enough to walk to all of the festivities, including the game itself. This will eliminate parking hassles and allow you to enjoy more of the fun.
We learned this the hard way. Several years ago, we went to the Rose Bowl. To save money, we stayed with Chris’ cousin, who lived about an hour from Pasadena. While we had fun, we missed out on a lot because we were so far away from everything. Plus, we spent a lot of time driving to and from events. In comparison, a few years later, we went to the Alamo Bowl. This time, we stayed in a hotel within walking distance of the stadium, all of the bowl activities, and plenty of bars and restaurants. This was a lot more fun. It made us feel like we were more a part of the experience.
Tip #4: Make It a Vacation
To truly get the most out of your bowl game experience, make a vacation out it. Instead of arriving the night before the game and leaving shortly after, spend a few days in your bowl city. Get there a few days early or stay a few days after the game. Whether you take your kids or make it an adults-only trip, embrace it and make the most of it. See the sights, visit the tourist areas, and enjoy the local cuisine. If your team will be playing in a location that you have never considered visiting, this will be a great opportunity to try something new. You may find that you love the city more than you thought you would.
Tip #5: Check Out Official Team Activities
Every bowl game has a list of official activities taking place in the days leading up to the game. Many of these will include appearances by the participating teams, as well as their bands and cheerleaders. You can usually find a schedule of events on the official bowl game website. For some added fun, attend some of these official activities. They are sure to bring out your school spirit in advance of the big game. It can be fun interacting with other fans of your favorite school. Plus, you never know who you may run into.
Tip #6: Wear Your Colors
Whenever we are traveling for college football games, we always wear our favorite school colors while on the trip. This is specially true for bowl games. I know it may seem silly, but wearing your school colors as often as possible while on a bowl trip can improve your experience. It will let people you pass on the street know which team you are rooting for. A lot of the people you pass will also be in town for the game. Wearing your colors creates a bonding experience between you and fellow fans. It leads to some impromptu cheering and high fives in random places. This helps to get everyone excited for the game. Plus, many local restaurants and stores will have bowl game discounts. If you are wearing your colors, the waitress or salesperson will know you are there for the game and may offer these discounts to you without you asking.
Tip #7: Make a Day of It
Don’t just show up for the game at kickoff. Get to the stadium early and make a day of it. Do some tailgating, or at least stroll through the tailgating area a few hours before kickoff. This will give you a better sense of the vibe of the bowl game and get you fired up for the game. And, you never know who you will run into while roaming through tailgates.
When we were at the Rose Bowl, we started the day very early by watching the Rose Parade. When the parade was over, we walked the short distance to the stadium. We met up with friends and tailgated until time to go into the game. When the game was over, we went back and tailgated some more to let the traffic clear out before we left. While it was long, it was such a great day! It created some wonderful memories that we will cherish forever. We wouldn’t have had these memories if we had just shown up for the game and left right after.
Tip #8: Have a Blast
Most importantly, to get the full bowl game experience, remember that the main reason for going to bowl games is to have fun and enjoy a wonderful sport with your fellow fans. So, have a blast! Let your school spirit shine through and cheer until you lose your voice. You will not regret the memories you make.
Bowl games are such a fun reason to travel. They give you a reason to go to a city you may not have ever visited, hang out with old friends, and act like you are in college again. Hopefully, the above tips will improve your next bowl game experience. For more tips, see how to improve your college football experience, tips for tailgating with toddlers, and packing tips for tailgating success. Happy travels!