Here’s how to have the ultimate sports tourism experience

There are many different reasons to get out and travel the world. Whether you’re looking to kick back and relax, or you’re visiting a new food festival, there’s something for everyone when you travel to new places. Some people even go out of town for sports tourism.

Sports travel is not as popular as gastronomic and wellness tourism. However, it is on the rise. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global sports tourism industry is valued at $587.87 billion in 2022. Between 2023 and 2030, sports tourism is expected to grow by nearly 18 percent each year. The numbers are not surprising. Thrill-seeking and adventure-seeking millennial and Gen-Z travelers often travel solely to have new experiences. Sports events are exciting and full of life. But you can’t catch a professional game in every city. So it makes sense for sports tourists to plan their trips.

There are several steps you can take to plan your next sports travel adventure. Whether you’re headed to an out-of-state hockey game or trying to snag Super Bowl tickets, use these tips to make sure you have the best sports tourism experience.

Types of sports tourism research

Photo credit: Ricardo

When most people think of sports tourism, the first thought is usually a professional game. However, the sports tourism industry is vast. Therefore, it is important to know what type of sports trip you are interested in. Traveling to watch a sporting event you love? Or are you a competitor who wants to get on the field and play?

Sports event tourism is when travelers visit a destination with the intention of watching a live game. This can include anything from a Little League game to the Olympics or the World Cup. Those traveling to participate in the event are engaged in “active sports tourism”. This includes extreme sports competitions that attract participants from all over the world, such as the Running of The Bulls during the San Fermín festival in Spain each year. Once you’ve determined what type of sports tourism you’re interested in, you’ll be better prepared to plan your trip.

Consider what the destination has to offer

Once you’ve figured out why you’re traveling, it’s time to decide where you’re going. Destination is everything when planning a sports tourism venture. Depending on the sporting event you are attending, you may be limited in where you can go. This is important to keep in mind when heading to events that only happen in one location, such as annual marathons or specific team games. Be sure to evaluate the overall purpose of the trip. Are you just going for the sporting event? Do you intend to check out popular restaurants, tours and activities in addition to the game? Keep these things in mind as you plan your trip.

Once you’ve locked in a destination, get accommodation close to where the sporting event is taking place. This will make your trip to the event short and sweet and save you time if you need to return to the room for any reason. Book your accommodation in advance as major sporting events often cause hotels to sell out quickly. This is also the time to determine the transportation options.

Grab your tickets sooner rather than later

a large sports arena
Photo: JC Gellidon

It’s important to get your tickets early to make sure you don’t miss out on the big game day. For those who will be watching a sporting event, getting tickets is rather a relief. Instead of worrying about whether you’ll be able to get them at the cash register, you can quickly move through the line to your seats. If you’re a game-day entrant, many races offer discounts for those who register early. So you might save a few bucks by getting tickets early.

Consider traveling with a group

If you’re new to sports tourism or don’t want to travel to a game alone, see if there are group tours targeting a game near you. The viral Facebook group Date Ideas & Things To Do has organized several bus trips to cities like Chicago for people who want to attend an NBA game. Sports tourism group travel is a great way to meet new people while sharing a mutual love of sports in a new city. Check the travel groups in your area to see if anyone is planning group trips centered around sports tourism.

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