Three years ago I was fortunate enough to attend Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. As a 49ers fan, the game did not end as I hoped it would, but the overall Super Bowl experience is one I will never forget. With Super Bowl 50 a couple of days away, I thought it made sense to put together a guide for efficient Super Bowl travel that will hopefully help those considering attending the Big Game in the future (which can also help you if attending other major events). If you follow these steps, you will find that traveling to the Super Bowl is not only possible, but it will likely cost much less than you thought it would.
Wait Until the Last Few Days to Purchase Super Bowl Tickets
Game tickets are clearly the most important aspect of attending a Super Bowl (if you care about the game). This might not be an easy thing to do, but you should wait until as late as possible to purchase your tickets. I would not even start looking for tickets until the Friday before the game. Keep in mind that as soon as the Super Bowl participants are known ticket brokers hike Super Bowl ticket prices to absurd levels. Thousands will be sold at these ridiculous prices, but many will not. As it gets closer to gameday, ticket sellers begin to panic and are naturally forced to reduce prices.
If you wait until gameday or the day prior to the game, you stand a great chance of finding decent tickets for under $1,500, perhaps even less depending on the Super Bowl location and participating teams.
Purchase Tickets from a Vendor with an Impecable Reputation
This should be obvious, but every year dozens fall victim to Super Bowl ticket scams. Additionally, many purchase tickets from well-intentioned sellers who simply never ended up receiving the tickets they were selling for reasons beyond their controls. Therefore, make sure that whomever you are buying Super Bowl Tickets from has a protection guarantee in place that will ensure you will have tickets to the game.
Monitor Hotel Award Availability Every Hour
Even if trying to book a hotel a year in advance for the Super Bowl, they will likely be sold out or the rates will be absurdly high. Think $1,000 for a Motel 6. Corporate bookings mostly prevent rates from ever going down to normal levels. However, about a week before travel you might see some hotels begin to open up award availability. From that time on you should monitor availability every hour.
Book a Hotel far from the Center of the Action Just in Case
Assuming you are not able to initially find anything that works for you in or close to the host city, look for hotels in cities an hour away or so. Rates will still be higher than normal, but acceptable, and at least you will have a place to sleep if nothing else ever opens up in or near the host city.
Make a Car Rental Reservation Just in Case
Whenever possible, you should avoid renting a car if traveling to the Super Bowl. Between traffic and security measures, driving is usually a total nightmare in the days leading up to the game and gameday. However, if you book a hotel far from the host city, you will likely need a car. Rental cars do sell out for the Super Bowl, so make your reservation as soon as you know there is a good chance you are going. Remember that with car rentals you are almost always able to cancel your reservation without penalty, so you do not lose anything if you end up not needing a car.
Book Standard Awards for Air Travel
As can be expected, airfare can also reach absurd levels for the Super Bowl. And forget about finding saver level availability; many of these planes are literally sold out even before the participating teams are known.
There are very few circumstances where I would recommend booking standard awards, but this is one of them (if you can even find standard availability). Perhaps booking a standard award for one leg and purchasing the other leg outright might be the best course of action.
Check Premium Cabin Fares
Planes are so full for the Super Bowl that you will often find premium cabin fares at the same rate or even cheaper than economy class fares. Therefore, make sure to double check on premium cabin fares before pulling the trigger on an economy class fare.
Make Dining Reservations for all Your Meals
If you do not have advanced lunch and dinner reservations, you will likely find yourself eating at fast foods or at your hotel for all your meals. Keep in mind that hundreds of thousands of people travel to the Super Bowl host city to attend numerous events. Even in larger cities this becomes problematic when it comes time to finding a place to eat. Before you leave home, make sure you have lunch and dinner reservations to cover your entire trip. Worst case scenario, you end up having to cancel one or two.
Wait Until After the Game is Played to Purchase Merchandise
By noon the day after the Super Bowl it feels like everyone has already left town. However, there is always a lot of merchandise still left for sale. As a result, prices for Super Bowl merchandise are slashed. Discounts of 50% are common. In some cases, the discounts are even better than that.
Enter Events’ Ticket Lottery
There are always dozens of interesting events such as award shows, concerts and talk shows taking place in the host city for which tickets are free. You must request these tickets. In some cases you will know instantly whether you got the tickets you wanted or not. In other cases there will be a lottery and you will not know until closer to the event dates if you won tickets.