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If you have sports fans in your family, you are guaranteed to have successful family vacations by planning them around sports. But, sports travel is something that a lot of people don’t even think about doing. Many people see sports and travel as two separate things. That is, until now!
My husband and I have been taking sports related trips for years. A lot of our travels are based around sporting events. In fact, we’ve taken two baseball trips in the last month alone!
So, today, I’m sharing all of my tips to make sports travel easy for you. I hope these tips inspire you to do some sports related travel if you have never done so before. So let’s get going!
- Reasons to Travel for Sports
- How to Plan Sports Related Trips
- How to Get Tickets
- Perfect Age to Take Kids to College or Professional Games
- How to Survive Games with Your Kids
- How to Keep Your Sports Fans Happy on Trips
- Tips to Maximize Your Sports Travel
- Fun Family Friendly Sports Trip Ideas
Reasons to Travel for Sports
Before we get into all of tips for sports related travel, let’s talk about why you would even want to take a trip to watch a sporting event.
Go watch your favorite team on the road.
One of the biggest reasons for sports related travel is to watch your favorite team play on the road. While it is fun cheering on your team at home, it can be a blast to go to a road game. Away games are a whole different experience.
We have been going to watch our favorite teams on the road for years. They are always fun trips.
Experience a new sport.
Another great reason to take a trip based around sports is to experience something completely new. This is the perfect opportunity to watch a sport that you recently discovered or to expose your kids to a new sport.
After watching rugby in the Olympics on tv, my son wanted to watch it in person. So, we took him to Fiji to see a match. It was a first for all of us. And it was so much fun! That trip turned all of us into rugby fans!
Indulge your favorite sports fan.
There is no better way to spoil your favorite sports fan than to take them on a trip that is focused on their favorite sport. You can make the trip a gift or a special surprise just because you love them.
Give your son tickets to see his college team play in a bowl game for Christmas. Celebrate your anniversary by taking your husband to watch Major League Baseball’s spring training in Arizona. Take your daughter on a girls trip to watch a big tennis match or to run a marathon.
Go watch a special athlete.
Whether it is a beloved professional athlete or a family member that plays high school sports, we all have a special athlete in our lives. Even if you are not a big sports fan, take a trip to watch this person play.
You can also give a loved one the trip of a lifetime by taking them to watch their favorite player.
Cheer on your team in the playoffs.
One of the most exciting reasons for sports travel is to cheer on your favorite team in the playoffs. No matter what sport you love, it always gets more thrilling when it comes to the post season. So, if your team is doing well this year, use it as an excuse to take a trip to watch a playoff game. You’ll love it!
Lastly, and most simply, the best reason to travel for sports is because it is fun. And isn’t that the main reason we travel? So, take your travel game up a notch by combining it with your love of sports.
How to Plan Sports Related Trips
Planning a sport focused trip is pretty much the same as planning any other kind of vacation. The only real difference is that you need to start with the game or sports activity and then plan the remainder of your trip around that. Here’s our step by step guide to planning your sports travel:
Find a game to attend.
First and foremost, when traveling for sports, you have to find a game to attend. Now, if you have been eyeing a particular game, this will be easy. If, however, you’re not sure what game you want to go see, decide on a team and check out their schedule. Find an away game that fits into your schedule and budget.
If you don’t have a special team but have a location you want to visit, check out the schedules for the sports teams located in that city to find a game that peaks your interest.
Get your tickets.
Next, go ahead and buy your tickets to that game. This will lock in your main event of the trip. Then, you can plan all the other aspects of your travels around that game.
Find a hotel near the stadium.
When looking for a hotel for your trip, try to find one close to the stadium. The perfect hotel would be one within walking distance. This will make it super easy to get to and from the game and allow you to avoid traffic and parking issues.
If you can’t find one within walking distance, go for a hotel that is as close to the stadium as possible. This will help you get the full effect of the excitement of the game.
Book your flights or plan your road trip route.
Once you have your game tickets and hotel, then decide if you are going to drive or fly. If you choose to fly, book your flights. If you will be driving, then start thinking about what route you will take, how long it will take you to reach your destination, and what time you will leave.
Research restaurants in your destination city.
Regardless of the type of travel you are doing, you should always take some time to research restaurants in your destination. Sports travel is no different. Find restaurants that your family will enjoy and make a list of them before your trip.
I would recommend looking for restaurants that are close to the stadium and some that are a little further away. While it may be more fun to eat at a place close to the stadium, you may not want to deal with the crowds or the wait time. So, having some places on your list that are a little bit further away without the crowds will be nice.
Decide if you have time for any other activities.
Once you have all the elements of your trip planned out, look to see if you have time for any other activities. If so, research possible things to do and make a list of them.
Many times when we are taking a weekend trip to watch a game, I will find time to do one activity that is not related to sports. Depending on where we are going and the time of year, this could be a zoo, museum, apple picking, or a pumpkin patch.
It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as it is something that your family loves. It’s nice to mix it up a little.
Pack your bags and have fun!
The last tip for planning your sports travel is to pack your bags and have fun on your trip! Enjoy this time with your family doing something you all love.
How to Get Tickets
Obviously, when you are traveling to see a game, you will need to get tickets. This is one aspect of sports travel that confuses many people. Here are the best ways to get tickets to a game that you will be traveling to see:
The Home Team Ticket Office
The best place to get tickets to any sporting event is through the home team ticket office. They have the biggest selection of tickets. And because they are the direct source of the tickets, you won’t have to worry about being scammed with fraudulent tickets.
If your chosen team is the away team, you can still get your tickets through the home team ticket office.
The only downside to this is that you will probably be sitting amongst opposing fans.
The Visiting Team Ticket Office
The next best place to get tickets to a game is through the visiting team’s ticket office. Each visiting team is given a block of tickets to sell to their fans through their ticket office.
Many times, getting tickets this way is easier than getting them through the home team. This is especially true when the home team is very popular. This will ensure you get to sit with other fans who support your team if you are going to see your favorite team play on the road.
We have done this several times when we were unsuccessful in getting tickets through the home team.
The drawbacks of getting tickets through the visiting team are that there are fewer tickets available and the seats usually aren’t that great.
A third option for getting tickets is Ticketmaster. This is a third-party ticket vendor who sells tickets that come directly from the source. Many sports venues actually use Ticketmaster as their online ticket office.
So, you can rest assured that these tickets are legit. However, sometimes it is difficult to get tickets through them due to the game being sold out.
Stubhub is another option for getting tickets to a game. These tickets are being resold by individual people who, for whatever reason, can’t use their tickets. Many times, it is season ticket holders that can’t or don’t want to go to a particular game.
I have found that there are usually many tickets available to any particular game on Stubhub. This makes it a great option when you are planning a last minute trip or have not had any luck getting tickets through other options.
While you can sometimes find amazing seats on Stubhub, you will usually pay more than face value for those tickets. Sometimes, you can also buy parking passes on Stubhub along with your tickets.
Perfect Age to Take Kids to College or Professional Games
Most sports fans want to share the experience of watching games live with their kids. But, they sometimes question themselves about the perfect age to take their kids to their first game. How do you know when your kids are ready? How old is old enough?
There is no right answer to these questions. It really varies from kid to kid and family to family. To help you answer this question for yourself, here are some things to think about:
Your child’s personality
The first thing to think about when deciding the perfect age to take your kids to college or professional games is their personalities. Can they go with the flow or do they need to be on a schedule? Do they get overwhelmed by lots of sights and sounds?
If you feel that your child can handle all that comes with being at a game, take them when they’re little. If you feel it will be too much for them, wait until they are a little older.
You also need to think about your own expectations for the game and your kids. If you take games very seriously, you may want to wait until your kids are old enough to sit and enjoy the entire game before you take them.
If, on the other hand, you are more concerned with exposing your kids to the experience and you don’t care how carefully they watch the game, take them at a younger age.
The atmosphere of the stadium
The third thing to consider when deciding if your kids are ready for sports travel is the atmosphere of the stadium or game. Every team and location has its own vibe. Is the vibe of the game you want to take your kids to kid friendly?
You don’t want to take your kids to a game where a fight could break out at any second. And you don’t want to expose your kids to nasty and obnoxious fans. So, find a game with a good atmosphere for their first one.
Another factor to take into account when looking for your kids’ first game to attend is the weather. This is especially important if your child is small.
You don’t want to take your little one to a game where the weather could be bad. So, find a game that is not going to be too hot or too cold.
Of course, if you are thinking of taking them to a game that is held indoors, this is not as important.
Logistics of the game
The last thing to think about it the logistics of the game. This includes the time of the game, how crowded it is expected to be, and the price of tickets.
You may not want to take your toddler to a game that starts at the same time as their bedtime. Likewise, you don’t want to spend a lot of money on tickets and then have your child throw a fit that requires you to leave in the first inning.
How to Survive Games with Your Kids
While it is a lot of fun to share your love of sports with your kids, taking them to live games can be challenging. These tips will help you to survive games with your kids.
Have reasonable expectations.
The best way to survive games with kids is to go into it with reasonable expectations. It is going to be different than going without kids. Your attention will be somewhat divided. You may miss a play here and there. But, it will be a great bonding moment to share with your kids if you approach it the right way.
Know the rules.
To minimize your frustration when taking your kids to a game, know the stadium rules before you arrive. Many stadiums these days only allow clear bags. Some do not let you bring in your own food. You will find some venues have exceptions for babies and toddlers, while others do not.
Be sure to check the rules in advance so you know what to expect.
Take advantage of snacks.
Snacks are like a magic potion that can solve a wide variety of problems when it comes to kids. So, make sure you are armed with snacks when you take your kids to games. If you are going to a stadium that won’t let you bring in outside food, plan to buy snacks at the game, as needed.
Whenever your child begins to get cranky, give them a snack. If your little one becomes restless, bring out a snack. When you can’t get them to sit still, hand over a snack.
Bring some entertainment.
Another tool you want to have in your bag of tricks when you take your kids to games is entertainment for them. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but the truth is that kids, especially younger ones, will get bored with the game. So, take a phone, tablet, or a few small toys with you.
Then, when they get tired of watching the game, you will have something to keep them busy until the game is over.
When my son was little, we would take a couple of small cars with us to baseball games. He would play with them for three or four innings easily.
Get them excited about the game and your team.
To prepare your kids for their first game, get them excited about the game and your favorite team. In the days and weeks leading up to the game, show them pictures and videos of the team, the mascot, the band, and cheerleaders. Tell them stories about being at games. Teach them the fight song and some cheers. Make it a fun experience before you ever arrive at the stadium.
You can also get them excited about the game by buying them a special shirt or hat with the team logo on it. Consider buying them a foam finger, pom pom, or temporary tattoos of your favorite team for the big day.
Burn off some energy by going for a walk.
During the game, if they begin to get restless, take them for a walk around the concourse. This is especially helpful if they have tired of snacks and entertainment.
Walking will let them burn off some energy and give them some new things to look at. It will also keep them occupied for a period of time.
And, who knows, you may run into the team mascot!
Point out fun things.
Another way to get kids interested in games when your take your kids on sports travel is to point out fun things that may be taking place on the field or around the stadium. This includes the band, cheerleaders, and mascot. It also includes things like graphics on the big screen.
Also, many baseball stadiums have a playground or kids area somewhere in the concourse. This can be a fun place to take your kids to run around and play for a bit during the game.
While you may not care so much about watching the band, your child may spend half the game watching and dancing along with them.
Be mindful of other fans.
Whenever you take your kids to games, please be mindful of other fans around you. Don’t let your kids ruin the experience for these people. They did not pay to come to the game to have your kids climbing all over them during the game.
If your child can’t stay within your seat area, please take them out into the concourse or somewhere away from other people.
How to Keep Your Sports Fans Happy on Trips
My husband is a huge sports fan. He is up for doing just about anything on vacation, as long as he has some access to sports during the trip, even if it is simply catching up on scores and highlights at the end of the night. So, I’ve learned how to keep him happy by incorporating a little bit of sports into every trip.
So, even if you aren’t traveling for sports, there are some ways to keep your sports fans happy while on vacation. Here’s my tips to do just that!
Take them to a sports museum.
Even if you don’t want to devote the time on your vacation to go to a game, take your favorite fan to a nearby sports museum to give them a taste of sports while on your trip. This can be enough to give them their fix without having to spend several hours and lots of money on a sporting event.
Let them watch the big game.
If your loved one will be missing a big game while on your trip, keep them happy by agreeing to let the take a break from family time to watch the game. You can even divide and conquer here. Let those who want to watch the game watch it while everyone else goes to see some sights.
Arrange a special viewing of a game.
Take the previous tip to the next level by arranging a special viewing of a big game for the sports fan in your family.
Several years ago, I did this for my husband. We were at Disney World during his favorite team’s biggest game of the season. I reserved him a VIP viewing of the game at the ESPN Zone. He loved the experience. It made a big game even more special for him.
Take them to a sports bar.
Want something a little more simple? Give them a taste of sports by taking them to a sports bar for a little bit. It could be for an hour or two for happy hour or for dinner. If you don’t want to eat dinner at a sports bar, go for drinks and dessert afterwards.
Tips to Maximize Your Sports Travel
If you are going to take a special trip for sports, you definitely want to make the most of it. Here are some tips to help you maximize your sports travel.
Try to do a little sightseeing.
Sports may be the reason for your trip, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some sightseeing while you’re there. When planning your trip, give yourself enough time to explore the area a little bit. Plan to do at least one attraction or experience on your trip that has nothing to do with sports.
On a weekend trip to Phoenix for a Diamondbacks game, we spent the morning exploring the Phoenix Zoo. It was a fun little extra bonus to our trip.
Find some great restaurants to try during your trip.
Another way to take advantage of traveling for sports is to find some great restaurants in the area to try. Even if you don’t have time to do any sightseeing, you will have to eat. So, head to at least one delicious local restaurant so you can experience the food of your destination.
Just before or just after the game is a perfect time to dine at a wonderful restaurant. It will definitely add to your experience of the game.
I would recommend doing some research ahead of time to find restaurants your family will love. Make a list of them, including address, and take it with you on your trip.
Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the game.
While you want to enhance your trip by sightseeing and eating at awesome restaurants, don’t overdo it. Be sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get to and enjoy the game, which is the primary reason for the trip.
If you are taking a weekend trip, try to limit your sightseeing activities to just one thing. If your trip will be a little bit longer, add in a couple others. But, if the game is at night, leave the afternoon before it open. If it is a day game, plan your sightseeing for the next day or prior day.
Get to the game early and enjoy the pregame festivities.
There are almost always some sort of pregame activities at college and professional sporting events. So, I recommend getting to the game early so you can experience these. At the very least, you can watch warm ups and have time to get your snacks and souvenirs without missing the start of the game.
You never know what sort of special memories you will create during the hour or so before a game starts. Many times, this is a great time to get autographs from players, take awesome photos of your family, and maybe even run into the mascot or cheerleaders.
Plus, getting there early means less time waiting in line to get in and less trouble finding parking!
Be prepared for the weather and parking.
Speaking of parking, definitely take the time before your trip to research the weather and parking.
You don’t want to be at an outdoor game with the wrong clothing. So, be prepared by seeing what the weather is supposed to be during the game. Then, you can pack the correct clothes.
Also, check out the parking situation. Where are the closest parking lots? Do you need a permit? How much does parking cost? Will you have to walk a long ways? Are there shuttles available? The more you know before you get to the game, the easier it will be for you to park.
Wear your team colors.
Finally, get the most out of your sports travel by wearing your team colors to the game! This will make you feel like you are part of the action. And it adds a bit of extra fun to the game experience.
You can either pack your team shirts and hats to take with you or you can buy a new one at the game as a souvenir of your trip.
Fun Family Friendly Sports Trip Ideas
Are you looking for some fun ways to incorporate sports travel into your family vacations? Here are some ideas to get you started:
Baseball Road Trip
Baseball, unlike other sports, is typically played every few days. This makes it the perfect sport to base a road trip around. Take a week or two and drive from city to city watching games.
You can either follow the same team to various cities or you can watch different teams play during each stop. Either way, your family is sure to have a blast.
Bowl Game Holiday Trip
Another really fun sports trip idea is to take your family to a bowl game. Because these are always held around Christmas and New Years, it is a great reason for a holiday trip!
We have been to several bowl games over the years. They are always a lot of fun, especially if you have college football fans in the family.
Another great baseball trip idea is to go watch Major League Baseball’s spring training during your kids’ spring break. Because most teams do their spring training in either Florida or Arizona, you can enjoy some warm sunshine during your trip. And your kids will love the chance to get some autographs!
Olympics Focused Trip
If your family is more interested in Olympic sports than the big team sports, then take a trip that is focused on the Olympics!
Believe it or not, there are actually several different ways to do this. First, you could go to the Olympics.
If that isn’t in the budget, head to Colorado or Utah for some Olympic fun. In Colorado Springs, you can visit the U.S. Olympic Training Facility. In Park City, Utah, you can have fun at the Utah Olympic Park, which was host to the 2002 Winter Olympics. Today, you can try your hand at some fun Olympic-like activities.
Lastly, you can go watch a game of an Olympic sport that you may not have seen before, like we did when we went to the rugby match in Fiji.
Hall of Fame Trip
Sports travel doesn’t always have to include watching a game. Another creative sports focused trip idea is to take your sports-loving family to tour the hall of fame of their favorite sport.
I promise you-any baseball fan would love to take a trip to Cooperstown, New York. And all football fans will have a blast in Canton, Ohio.
If you have sports fans in your family, you should definitely consider sports travel for some of your family vacations. It is creative and easy way to add some spice to your trips and up the fun factor for your loved ones.
This ultimate guide to sports travel gives you all the tips and tricks you need to make the most out of your sports trips. I hope it helps make your trips more fun!
For more ideas on sports trips, see our ultimate college football experience, our fun filled sports weekend in Missouri, football, friends, and rock and roll, and why college baseball playoffs are great for families.
For tailgating tips, see how to tailgate at home, tailgating with toddlers, and packing tips for tailgating success. And check out the best tips for family sports travel and my list of awesome gift ideas for sports fans. And check out our list of the best sporting events for your bucket list.
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