If attending the Olympics is not on your travel bucket list, it absolutely should be. I’ve had the opportunity to attend 4 Olympics, some as personal travel and others as part of my career, and I would encourage anyone with even a remote interest in travel and sports to attend. The games are an event unlike any other!
How to Get Tickets
In most countries, CoSport is the official ticket distributor. Register with the site to receive ticket lottery and sale notifications. Typically, CoSport does the first round of tickets through a lottery request system about a year and a half before the games. I advise you team up with your travel buddies and submit requests for as many tickets as allowed (there is usually a maximum number of tickets that an individual can request–it should be about 40-50 tickets, so plan accordingly). This will increase your odds of getting tickets.
If you don’t receive many tickets during the request phase, do not be surprised or discouraged. Instead, continue to check CoSport daily for ticket releases where you can buy individual tickets to specific events with ease. In the past, this has typically been where I’ve secured more popular events like swimming, gymnastics, snowboarding, and figure skating.
Once you’ve decided you’re going to the games and you have an idea of when you will be attending events within the two week window, I advise you start considering your accommodations options. Unfortunately, unless you’re with a sponsor or National Governing Body (NGB), securing a hotel room will be nearly impossible. I recommend looking at AirBnB, VRBO, and local bed and breakfasts to try and find somewhere with vacancy–book as early as you can, because selection will dwindle the longer you wait. If you get desperate, you can book ticket and accommodations packages through CoSport, but the prices are astronomical.
Getting to the Games
Booking flights is typically the easiest part. Once I’ve identified the dates I need to be in the Olympic host city, it’s just a matter of finding a flight that suits my needs. I haven’t seen much of a cost increase in flights to Olympic locations–expect to pay typical international airfare.
How to Get to Events
Once you’re on the ground at the games, getting to events can be a little tricky. There is always ample signage and volunteers to direct you, but budget extra time to get from one venue to another.
Do a little research beforehand to see the venue layout and plan how you will get from one event to the next. For London and Sochi, your event tickets allowed free access to their transit systems, easily transporting you around the Olympic city. In Rio, there were private metro lines for Olympic ticket-holders, but you still needed to purchase a transit card to use throughout the games.
I hate to harp, but be sure to give yourself enough time to get to and from venues. Crowds can be dense, slowing your pace. You will have to go through security before entering the Olympic Park as well as individual venues. Buses and trains sometimes take longer than expected. If you give yourself some extra time, then there’s less of a chance you’ll miss that awesome athletic event you flew halfway around the world for!
Embrace the Experience
While at the games, throw caution to the wind and embrace every experience. At every turn you will meet someone from a different country who is just as excited as you are to be there. Grab some pins and do some trading, try local foods, explore landmarks and hidden gems of the host city, soak it all in!
I hope this helps as you begin planning your own Olympic adventure. Traveling to the Olympics has been one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had–hopefully you love it as much as I do. If you have any questions or need any guidance, let me know! To relive my Rio and Sochi escapades, click the links!