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You may not have realized it, but sports tourism is actually one of the fastest growing sectors in travel.

No longer are sports fans simply settling for catching the big game on the telly, rather they’re booking tickets to catch all the action in the stands first hand.

Here’s what you need to know before you join the cheering crowds while on holiday.

Helpful Tips for Travelers Heading to Big International Sporting Events

Sports Games vs Sporting Events

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There are sports games and then there are world-renowned sporting events that attract tens of thousands of enthusiastic fans who were lucky enough to score tickets. Both tend to be included on the best sportsbooks.

Large scale sporting events like the Super Bowl, FIFA World Cup, Olympics and Commonwealth Games, and the World Cups of Cricket and Rugby have become top travel attractions in and of themselves.

While many big-name sporting events move around between host cities, others have become symbols of the cities which hold them annually like Wimbledon in London or the AFL Grand Final in Melbourne.

We may have seen teams and opponents in many cases go head-to-head without fans in the stands throughout the pandemic, but large sporting events are now welcoming fans again.

As worldwide travel begins to open back up once again and sporting events across the globe take center stage, here are some helpful tips you should know if you plan on engaging in a bit of sports tourism yourself.

Purchasing Tickets

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Most if not all big-name sporting events are ticketed, and because of their popularity, tickets can sell out far in advance.

Some sporting events might require you to be proactive about purchasing your tickets months in advance or you may have to enter a lottery or ballot process to hopefully secure your tickets.

You always want to make sure you’re buying your tickets through reputable websites or ticket dealers. Buying from third party websites or scalpers is always a risk, and you could end up either receiving no tickets or fake tickets.

Some third party websites guarantee tickets, meaning that even if your tickets do end up being counterfeit or invalid somehow, you should be able to at least get your money back without too much hassle.

The last place you want to go searching for tickets is through online ads or social media since you likely won’t really know the seller or their true personal details and your buyer protections are therefore greatly diminished.

Planning Your Trip

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The first step to planning a trip to a large sports event begins with deciding which international sporting events you’d like to add to your bucket list. The next step is then researching and booking your flights and accommodation.

Because big-name sporting events draw a lot of fans both domestically and internationally, hotel rooms and flights can book out quickly around the dates of the event.

Planning Accommodation

Securing your reservations well in advance means you are guaranteed to have somewhere to stay near the event or won’t be forced to pay exorbitant prices closer to the date.

Expect rates or prices to be higher for many things when traveling to destinations that are hosting a big sporting event. This will allow you to budget accordingly or save up for your holiday.

Planning Transport

Don’t forget to think about transport as well. Rental cars may also book out far in advance or get more expensive closer to the event date.

If you will be taking public transport, consider your options. Will you book accommodation within walking distance to the stadium/event space, or will you need to arrange a taxi, bus, or train.

You don’t want to find yourself too far from an event, where traffic getting to the event could potentially present problems or delays in reaching the event on time.

Planning Timing

Sometimes, depending on your ability to take extra time off, it may be a good idea to start your trip a week or so before destinations host their big sporting events.

This may allow you to get better rates on flights and secure your accommodation. It also gives you the ability to experience a city before it gets too flooded with international and domestic tourists arriving for the big game.

One of the major reasons cities like to host big sporting events is that they draw global attention to the many other attractions they have to offer.

While your main reason for travel may be attending a single sporting event, be sure to maximize the value of what you’re spending on your holiday by seizing the opportunity to enhance your holiday by planning to check out other sights and experiences that places have to offer.

Betting on Sports

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Placing bets on sporting events has never been easier thanks to the internet and online sports betting websites like Unibet. Simply do your research of each country’s specific online gambling rules and regulations and then choose an online platform that aligns with your needs.

A VPN may be necessary to access certain offshore betting websites, just check what the legalities are of accessing your favorite betting sets while overseas.

And you will of course want to book accommodation that offers fast and free Wi-Fi if you plan on checking odds and placing bets online.

Betting online while overseas is especially beneficial when there is a language difference that could make other types of in-person sports betting more challenging. Sticking with your regular betting sites assures you can understand the language and process of betting.

It’s important to always bet responsibly and with reputable websites that have consumer safeguards in place. These are often betting sites that are licensed and regulated by the local government you are traveling in.

Packing for a Sporting Event Holiday

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Packing for sports tourism isn’t all that different from packing for other types of trips. You want to make sure to minimize what you take so you can travel lightly with less stress.

You want to make sure to pack all the necessary clothing, toiletries, chargers, passport/ID, etc. However, there are a few things you may want to add to your packing list if attending a sporting event while traveling.

Protection from the elements may be needed for events taking place in an open stadium. You’ll want sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses for sun protection since you may be seated beneath the midday summer sun for hours.

Pro tip: Keep in mind that the sun’s damaging effects can be greater in certain destinations such as Australia, the American Southwest, parts of Africa, and destinations at higher elevations. So even if you aren’t usually prone to heat stroke or sunburn, you may feel unwanted effects from the sun without proper protection in certain locations you aren’t accustomed to.

It’s never a bad idea to pack a rain poncho, waterproof jacket, or umbrella in case of rain on game day. A reusable/refillable water bottle will also come in handy for keeping you hydrated at the game all day without having to shell out for expensive bottled water.

A camera with extra batteries is also a great way to capture moments from the game, or pack binoculars if you happen to be in the nosebleed seats to get a bit closer to the action.

You may also want to pack various OTC medications and bring them with you on game day such as pain relief for headaches that may be brought on by all the excitement and loud cheering fans.

Other medications such as anti-diarrhea pills or jet lag aids may also be a good idea so you won’t be miserable at the game if you experience either in the lead up to attending a big game.

Acting Responsibly at a Game or Match

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While it’s reasonable for sports fans to get emotional during games, you do need to try and keep your emotions in check. Certain things you do at home while watching the big game may be less tolerated or possibly banned at a live match.

Depending on the type of sport, there are often etiquette rules that fans must adhere to unless they wish to land themselves in trouble. Whether it’s golf or tennis, heckling, swearing, and being physically abusive is usually not tolerated.

While alcohol is often present at many sporting events, it’s important to watch how much you consume so you don’t become intoxicated and lose control of your actions. In some destinations such as Islamic nations, alcohol may be outlawed and not available at games, and it’s not advisable to sneak any in.

For instance, at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar which will be the first to be held in the Arab world, football fans will only be allowed to drink alcohol in specific places. Whenever you travel to another country, you must respect the local customs.

Failure to adhere to the set rules of a country or specific sporting match could result in your removal from the event. When being upset about losing a match or over a bad ref call leads to rage, it can lead people to vandalize property and engage in physical abuse with other fans. This could result in not only injury to you and others, but also serious criminal charges being laid against you.

Punishment can also result from celebrations that are taken too far such as taking to the streets to cause mischief that may include using things like fireworks which may be outlawed. The key is to keep your disappointment or jubilation at reasonable levels to ensure you stay out of trouble.

And while I know I said earlier that bringing a camera is a great way to remember a big sporting event, there are some which do not permit photography such as the PGA’s Masters tournament rounds.

Always check up on what items are allowed to be brought to an event and be sure you adhere to any dress code that may be in place.

Due to Covid, there may also now be added rules or restrictions such as the need to wear a mask or provide proof of vaccination.

These are just some of the tips that will make your sporting event holiday more enjoyable. In addition to sports tourism including attending big sporting events, there are also other permanent sports attractions that are worth visiting.

So if you can’t manage to score tickets or travel when a big match is happening, there are still many ways you can embrace your love of sports on your next holiday.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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