Going to the Olympics might be a once in a lifetime experience. You want to see as much as possible in the short amount of time you have. Here are my 5 easy tips to make the most out Olympic travel.
With the next winter Olympics in Pyeongchang less than a year away, I’m sharing my tips from my last winter Olympic travel on how to make the most out of your Olympic travel. Going to the Olympics might be a dream come true for any sports fanatic and being part of the Olympic dream can be overwhelming at times.
It’s the biggest sports event in its category and it involves a huge amount of athletes, different nations and volunteers. The scale of the event is huge, with sometimes 100 of miles between venues. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when being at the Olympics, but not with my 5 easy tips to make the most out Olympic travel.
No 1: Preparation is key for succesful Olympic travel
You might want to pack your bags and just go, but in order to make the most out of your Olympic experience, you want to make sure, you go to the venues in time and do not miss a thing of all the Olympic spirit that is going on. In order to do that, you need to prepare.
Know when the different competitions take place and know what the map of the Olympic Park looks like. Make sure to bookmark and check the official Olympic website, like the Pyeongchang2018 website for the next winter Olympics and join the mailing list of your national Olympic committe, like TeamUSA. They offer a lot of information on staying safe and have useful “how to get there” topics.
The Olympic experience is more than just attending the competitions, so make sure you know about the Medal ceremony. How to get in your nations Olympic house for the after party and see who else is going.
No 2: Don’t plan your schedule too tight
It’s easy to think you have to visit as many competitions as possible, but planning your schedule too tight, might be a real problem in the end. You have to remember that this isn’t just any normal sports event. It’s the Olympics. There are a huge number of people involved and travelling from one venue to another might take more time than you’d think. Distances can be huge and the scale of the Olympic park might have you walking a bit more than you thought.
For Sochi 2014 there was a free bus service between Sochi and Adler and the Olympic park. This was a great way to go to the Olympic park, but busses were overcrowded. All people wanted to hop on at the same point and traffic was a nightmare. To cover a distance of a few miles, it took the bus sometimes more than 1,5 hours to get to the Olympic park. With your winter coat on, (it’s the Winter Olympics right?!) and 24 degrees Celsius, it wasn’t a pleasant ride.
Once at the Olympic park, I was shocked the first time at how massive the whole scale of the place was and it took me more time than I thought to go to the actually stadium. Leave your hotel in time and make sure you have plenty of time to get from one place to another.
Consider to stay in one place for a day. Having a skiing event in the mountains in the morning and a hockey game at the Olympic park in the afternoon, might have you rushing out of your mind. Have one “mountain day” on which you go to different events at that location and plan your Olympic park events for another day.
No 3: Relax
An athlete might work for 4 years for this event and it’s the “now-or-never” moment for them. It might feel the same way for you, as a spectator. You’re tempted to cram as much events in your day schedule as possible. Get up early. Go to 3 competitions. Visit the medal ceremony and party until the middle of the night. And why not? It’s a once in a lifetime experience, but also make sure to have time to relax.
You need to eat and might just want to sit back with a nice cup of coffee and process all the things that you just saw. Sports events can have a huge impact. Especially when records are broken or you’re super excited about the gold medal winner. Or you’re bummed that your favourite team didn’t make it to the final. All this can happen in a very short time span. Give yourself time to relax and digest today’s events.
Leave room to relax so you can experience the other things around the Olympics.
With not planning too tight and giving yourself time to relax, you can leave room for all the other things to do around the Olympics.
I had one day during my Olympic travel, when I had no events. I left that day unplanned for and it enabled me to relax and experience all the other cool and fun things to do around the Olympics. At the Sochi Olympic park there was a theme park but also an exhibition about all the different regions in Russia. There were the different “country houses” like the Swiss house, which was a lot of fun. You might want to shop for a unique (and expensive) Olympic souvenir or go for a real coffee somewhere away from the Olympic park. There are a lot of likeminded sports fanatics at the Olympics and it’s great to have time and meet new people.
No 4: Take time to recap the day.
At home, you can watch all the re-runs as much as you want. Going online and watch a competition on youtube or read the interviews in the newspaper. For me, this is a great way to stay informed and to really put everything in perspective.
But being at the actual Olympics, this might be hard and you might miss out on a huge chunk of information. Of course, these days, there is internet and wifi everywhere, but you do not want to spend your whole Olympic experience, staring at your phone. Lucky for you, there are other ways too.
You can have dinner in a sports bar and watch the local news to stay informed. Some networks might have a booth at the Olympics to broadcast their Olympic news or sports programs. It might be possible to visit some and this is what I did. It was a great way of getting the inside scoop and a lot of fun. On my first night at the Olympics, I joined the audience of the biggest Dutch Olympic talk show and it was great fun. I’d just left the medal ceremony and there I was, sitting in the audience, watching the athletes talk about their races and showing of their medals.
No 5: Stay on budget.
When you travel to the Olympics, you might get a bit of “ah-what-the-heck” moment. You feel like you’re part of something bigger and you do not want to miss a single moment of it. Getting tickets to the right events might be a hassle and might have been difficult to begin with. So what do you do when you’re at the Olympics and the opportunity presents itself, to buy more tickets?
At the Olympics, there is an Olympic ticket office where you can buy any kind of last minute ticket, if available. I was in that office because we had won “hot-seat” Medal ceremony tickets the day before. I was tempted to buy some tickets to a hockey game because they were on sale. I had never been to a hockey game, but I was at the Olympics! What would be a better time than to attend a hockey game at the Olympics?
When counting my money, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have the money for it. Of course, I could go to an ATM and get more money or whip out my credit card, but I would have to go way over my Olympic travel budget. I decided not to do that and I bought some much cheaper tickets for the shorttrack event, which was within my budget.
When I got home, I didn’t have a huge credit card statement waiting for me and I was glad I’d stayed on budget.
5 Easy tips to make the most out Olympic travel
To recap my Olympic experience, I give you these 5 easy tips to make the most out Olympic travel:
Prepare, don’t plan things too tight, relax, take time to recap and stay on your budget. When doing all these things, I’m sure you’ll have just an amazing Olympic experience as I had. To check out more Sochi 2014 pictures, check out my other website, passion-for-skating.com
Can’t get enough of sports? Check out these 15 Sporting Events you can’t miss while traveling from A Pair of Passports. Have you been to the Olympics? How did you make the most out of your Olympic trip?