There are many who that think a prerequisite to being a ëtrue supporterí of a club is living in relatively close proximity to that club. However, there are many who donít have the luxury of watching in person week in, week out but are still diehard supporters of their club nonetheless.
But if youíre one of those faraway fans who finally has the chance to travel to England and live the dream of seeing Premier League football up close and personal, itís imperative that you have a trip to remember. It’s a given that you should invest in some travel insurance before you set off for Liverpool, London, Manchester, or elsewhere, but there are several other helpful tips that will go a long way in ensuring that your trip goes as well as possible.
1. Plan ahead
Itís exciting to think about impulsively hopping on a plane to England and winging it, but for those who arenít able to do so, the wise idea is to plan as much as possible well in advance.
Is there a specific match you want to see? Would you like to see one match, multiple matches in one city, or multiple matches in multiple cities? How much time would you like to devote to other activities like sightseeing? Those are all factors that must be considered when deciding on the time and duration of your trip.
Think ahead and research sights, restaurants, activities, and so forth, and find out the best times to do those things. That way, youíll have a good idea about how much you want to and can fit in and how much your travel budget should be.
2. Book travel and accommodations as early as possible
Once youíve decided on the ëwhen?ë and ëwhereí, itís time to make the arrangements. You can save a lot of money – and headaches – by booking your flights and hotel(s) well in advance. A trip like this one is where travel-related cards or memberships are handy, but if you donít have those, make full use of the Internetís vast resources to ensure you get the best rates.
Take note that rates vary based on time of week, time of year, and holidays, and when it comes to hotels, the area and proximity to noteworthy attractions also come into play. But if youíre set on traveling at a certain time or staying at a certain hotel in a certain area, booking early will help you save a lot of money and to get the flight and room(s) you want.
Check out the rates and benefits airlines and hotels offer through direct booking and compare with rates on the webís many discount travel sites before clicking or calling. On discount travel sites, you can immediately compare several rates at once and perhaps save a chunk on a flight + hotel package deal. But direct booking has benefits, especially if you intend to use that airline or hotel chain again in the future or if there are any additional advance purchase discounts on top of what you get by smartly booking early.
When deciding, be mindful of non-refundable rates or how late you have to make changes to or cancel tickets and reservations, because thereís always a chance something could come up that throws a wrench into your plans, or you may well decide to depart a day earlier or add a day or two to the end of your stay.
3. Fully immerse yourself
Thereës nothing at all wrong with taking in popular tourist attractions and visiting the well-known places, but donít be afraid to step outside your itinerary.
It doesnít mean you have to completely ditch whatís on those written or typed sheets of paper, but if youíve ever watched a travel program or two, thereís one tip thatís always a constant: listen to the locals. Donít hesitate to those most in the know about where to go and what to do, whether itís the person who checks you in at your hotel, a waiter in a restaurant, the people you meet at the stadium, or even a complete stranger out and about.
Where do they eat, shop, or go for a drink? What places should be avoided? Be friendly, have an open mind, and even if a recommendation or two doesnít end up being your cup of tea, you could uncover some pretty special (and perhaps budget-friendly) spots.
And remember, even though there are only 24 hours in a day, you can catch up on your sleep when youíre back home! Donít overdo it, but balance fitting in as much as you can with giving yourself enough time to fully enjoy each experience.
4. Make wise decisions about money and valuables
Itíd be nice to think that all people you encounter will be friendly and helpful, but thatís not the case, so you must exercise caution.
There will be places where cash is required, but think in advance how much you might need and donít take more than that. And though itís a common-sense rule, it still bears saying that being flashy with your money is an absolute no-no.
When youíre out and about, try to look more like a local and less like a tourist, and use common sense when it comes to things like expensive (or expensive-looking) jewelry, clothing, and electronics. If itís something you would regret losing (whether by theft or your own forgetfulness), leave it at home. And whatever you do, always be aware of your surroundings and be smart about where you go, what time you go, and who youíre around.
Also, donít leave money, jewelry, electronics, or other valuables out in the open in your hotel room. If you can get a safe, make use of it.
5. Have fun!
Out of all possible tips, this is the most important one. Being able to see your favorite club win would be ideal, but donít let that make or break your trip. Enjoy the football, but more importantly, make memories youíll cherish for a lifetime, and hopefully a few new friends along the way as well.
Eddie Griffin writes for Soccerlens.com.