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Bowl season is almost here! If you have never been to a bowl game, you should go! They can be so much fun. But, to make the most of a trip to a bowl game, you have to take a different approach to planning than if you were going to a regular season game. To help you do just that, here are some tips to maximize your bowl game experience.
Tip #1: Plan as Early as Possible
There’s not much time between team selections and the actual bowl game. So, bowl game travel must be planned with relatively little notice. However, to get the most out of your bowl game experience, make plans as early as possible.
As soon as you know where your team is going, book your hotel and flight. The sooner you book your trip, the more options you will have.
And if you would like to experience a particular bowl game, regardless of who’s playing in it, book your trip before the teams are announced for the best selection of flights and hotel rooms.
You can find a complete list of bowl game dates and locations here.
Tip #2: Get Your Tickets
Once you have your travel arrangements made, get your game tickets. You have several options for tickets.
The first option is to buy tickets directly from your favorite school. You can usually do this by contacting the 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 tickets.
If you can’t get tickets through your school, try getting them 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 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 the bowl, 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 should stay close enough to walk to all of the festivities, including the game itself. This will eliminate parking hassles and allow you to have more fun.
We, unfortunately, learned this the hard way. Several years ago, at the Rose Bowl, we stayed with my husband’s cousin to save money. Unfortunately, she lived about an hour from Pasadena. We had fun, but we missed out on a lot because we were so far away. Plus, we spent a lot of time driving to and from events.
In comparison, a few years later, at the Alamo Bowl, 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 felt 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 some time in the city hosting the game.
Get there a few days early or stay a few days after. Whether you take your kids or make it an adults-only trip, make the most of it. See the sights, visit the tourist attractions, and enjoy the local cuisine.
If your team is playing somewhere you never considered visiting, take the chance 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 include appearances by the teams, bands and cheerleaders. You can usually find a schedule of events on the official bowl game website.
To get more fun out of your bowl game experience, attend some of these activities. They are sure to ignite your school spirit and get you hyped for the game. It can be fun interacting with other fans. Plus, you never know who you may run into. More than once, we have bumped into old friends at these events.
Tip #6: Wear Your Colors
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 tells people you pass on the street who you are rooting for. Many people you pass will also be there for the game. Wearing your colors creates a bonding experience with fellow fans and 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 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 you discounts you didn’t even know about.
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. Tailgate, or at least stroll through the tailgating area. This gives you a better sense of the vibe of the bowl game and gets you fired up for kickoff. And, you never know who you might run into.
At the Rose Bowl, we started the day very early by watching the Rose Parade. After that, we walked to the stadium and tailgated with some friends until game time. After the game, we 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. If we had just showed up for the game, we would have missed out on some of the best memories of the trip.
Tip #8: Have a Blast
Most importantly, to get the full bowl game experience, have fun and enjoy the day! 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 chance to take a mini-vacation, hang out with old friends, and act like you are in college again. I have no doubts that these tips will improve your next bowl game experience.
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