By the time you’re reading this, I should be about halfway across the Atlantic Ocean on my way to London for the 2012 Olympic Games. Throughout my time there, I’ll be writing as regularly as I can to keep you posted, but I’ll also be out a lot, so they may be shorter update posts.
Today, I thought I’d give some tips on preparing to go to a big event like the Olympics in one of the greatest cities in the world. London is one my favorite places I’ve been to and I can’t wait to be back!
1) First, and most importantly, book everything well ahead of time. This includes accommodation, event tickets, etc. For reference, I booked my hostel about a year and a half ago and it was already 80% full. I put in for the ticket lottery almost a year ago. Do your homework to find out when things will be available. You’ll also save a significant amount of money by booking early.
2) Good luck getting tickets for the Opening Ceremony. This is pretty much an impossible feat unless you are willing to pay a fortune. I put into the lottery for these, had my British friends put in for them, and still didn’t get them.
3) Even if you can’t get tickets for any of the events, it will be a giant party. Out of the 10 events I put in for tickets for I only received 2: fencing and badminton. Not exactly the highlights of the Games, but it should be fun nonetheless. The streets will be packed and Trafalgar Square is where I plan on hanging out a lot. I was in London during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and they had several giant screens around the square showing all the different events taking place.
4) Be flexible about your departure and arrival dates. I could probably write a whole post just about this, but most travel sites let you search a few days before and after your selected date to find the cheapest flights. I watch flights like a hawk, and I saved $250 by waiting until about 2 weeks prior to when I was leaving to book. It doesn’t always work out like that, but just keep an eye on flights for a while before you make your reservation.
5) Buy Your Country Gear. When trying to buy Team USA gear, start looking around more than a week ahead of when you leave. Otherwise you end up buying online and paying a ridiculous amount to have it expedited before you take off. It’s not fun to pay $26 to have a couple of shirts shipped. Apparently most stores don’t carry Team USA gear just before the Olympics are about to start. Imagine that.
6) Pack light. This goes for all travels, but especially for big events. It is going to be jam-packed everywhere and the less luggage that you’re carrying through the crowds, the better off you’re going to be. I’m down to a 50-liter backpack and I’m so much happier carrying it around than I was with my old 78-liter pack.
Do you have any tips for surviving big events?