You want to go to the FIFA World Cup but have no concept on costs and planning? This page is for you.
We’ve summarized the travel into buckets, provided some insight into tournaments past and at the end of this post and provided infographics that get into more specifics on actual money spent.
Table of Contents
- Summarizing Expenses into Buckets
- Example Expenses from Tournaments Past
- Don’t Forget To Leave Your Thoughts
From a budgeting perspective, our goal is to deposit $100 every month (yes, we recognize we are privileged to live in a country job opportunities afford this luxury) to an online savings account so that at every 4 year cycle, there’s roughly $5,000 saved w/ interest.
With about $5,000 saved, this has been enough for a comfortable, 10 day trip to the World Cup. Obviously, what someone can do with $5,000 is a very subjective debate so read below for how that money is dispersed.
Note: Don’t forget you may have some last minute item to pack.
Summarizing Expenses into Buckets
Your expenses will be broken down into:
- Travel (International and/or Domestic)
- Match Tickets
- Miscellaneous Funds
- Food, excursions, last minute items to pack, etc
Travel – International & Domestic (~25% of budget)
Fortunately, we are able to use airline points for most tournaments but you can find low prices if you’re willing to take unconventional paths. For example, we met fans from Argentina that would drive to Brazil, fly to Rome then to Dubai and then took a 12 hour bus to Doha just to keep flight costs down!
Using airline points has been a huge cost saver for me. There have been times in the past where we use points to fly closer to the host nation and purchase a separate flight from there.
Airline points save us about $1000 to $1500, which allows us to spend more on accommodation. That said, we’ve always seen flights, even the full day travel to Qatar, for less than $1,000.
Pro Tip: Interested in saving costs in flights – signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights is a great way to start (honestly for any trip, not just a World Cup)!
Once you arrive to your host country, how will you travel domestically?
In Germany, I purchased a Eurorail pass and rode subways and hitched car-rides. South Africa was domestic flights, taxis, buses and hitching rides in cars. Brazil was domestic flights, taxis, metro and buses. Russia was all trains, subways and taxis. Qatar will provide free bus and metro travel to all World Cup guests with a Fan ID.
This is typically a low cost with Brazil being the exception. Flights around the country were cost-prohibitive in our original plans to see more of the country. Bus rides were more affordable but unfortunately, we didn’t have the time.
If you’re planning for 2026, this may get expensive as the tournament covers a vast area! The 2023 tournament in New Zealand and Australia may have similar increased costs if you’re jumping from city to city across the countries.
Like for International Travel, Scott’s Cheap Flights can also save on Domestic Travel.
Match Tickets (~15% of budget)
Honestly, this is the section that surprises everyone because match tickets, especially for the Group Stages, are much more affordable than most imagine. Meaning, many people imagine $1,000s per match when in reality, most tournaments to date have Category 3 (read here on understanding what that means) for < $100.
At the moment, there’s a big variance between Men’s and Women’s tournaments.
In fact, we bought two tickets to the FINAL in Sydney for 2023 for $25 each!
Please reference Buying Tickets to the World Cup for more info.
The most we’ve ever spent on match tickets has been in Qatar, where it is much easier to see many matches due to everything being so close.
The range here has been $300 – $800 between tournaments per person. The average tournament, we see 3-4 matches but in Qatar, we’ll attend 7-8.
Accommodations – (~40% of budget)
Your personal preference is what drives the costs of this expense.
Do you want to travel in luxury with white-glove service or couch-surf for as low cost as possible? We did couch-surfing in Germany 2006 and hope to one day experience the luxury service!
Please note that everything is going to be in high demand and the default lodging of brand hotels, etc will be booked out 4 to 6 months in advance! Lately, the trend is for FIFA to book many of these hotels in advance for themselves, media and teams. We typically go for a B&B or something that isn’t an international brand.
Cost-wise, the best place we stayed was on a friend’s floor in Munich (i.e. free 😆). The most expensive average cost we stayed in was in Brazil. If you were staying in Rio or other popular tourist areas, it was common to see up to $300 (USD) per night for very basic living. The most affordable was Russia in that we could have easily stayed in a hostel for $9/night but preferred a more comfortable situation – we’re getting old!
Qatar 2022 was its own monster with the average room cost being much higher than tournaments past. Fortunately, we found lodging early on one of the cruise ships at a price that had a lot more value than others paid.
Typically, we enjoy our own room and shower and found clean, convenient places for $100-$200 per room per night in Germany, Russia and South Africa. It also helps if you can share with friends!
On the Ground Miscellaneous (~20% of budget)
This could be dining, alcohol, gifts, entertainment, last minute items to pack, etc.
Are you attending museums, booking a private tour, etc? Are you someone that will buy every piece of merchandise or knick-knack you see?
The point here is some fans enjoy going to the World Cup and only focusing on the matches and sporting event. We don’t mind missing a match or two on tv if it means getting a glimpse into the culture of the host nation (while also knowing, we are getting the “best face” of the host nation b/c of the tournament).
On average, we budget around $100 per day per person but some days are quite expensive while others are incredibly inexpensive (typically the days we attend a match).
We took advantage of the easy transportation to tour almost the entire country. There were museums, bus tours, history lessons, castle visits, stop overs in Austria, etc. We were also fortunate that we had local friends in two different cities that hosted us and took us on tours.
South Africa 2010
The biggest miscellaneous expenses were on the obvious tourist items; Table Mountain, Stellenbosch, exploring the incredible cuisine options, visiting Cape Point & Boulders Beach, etc. Like Germany we were again fortunate to have a local show us around and ensure we had more insight into South Africa.
So much to see in Brazil and its natural beauty and not enough time; yet taking your time and enjoying the surroundings was also part of life. Most of our miscellaneous spend in Brazil was food and drink as we ventured out to some of the most beautiful surroundings we’ve seen.
Miscellaneous spending was on par with Germany. There were museum visits, tours, history lessons, art galleries, etc. The conversion rate on money was favorable and was likely the most affordable cuisine. On average, we spend about $100/day on average.
Example Expenses from Tournaments Past
Updated December 07, 2022 after the trip.
Qatar was unique in many ways but from a budget perspective, it was unique because we extended our stay a couple more days at the last minute, which had some increases costs.
Why did we extend our stay? We unexpectedly secured tickets to our team’s Round of 16 match and it is mandatory to do so in this situation, right? We’ll figure out how to balance our accounts, work a side job or two, etc later. 😀
For the additional two days, we summarized all costs into “Extended Stay”:
Original Stay ($6380)
- Flights – $1560
- Match Tickets – $1300 (8 matches)
- Accommodations – $2600
- Ground Transportation – $120
- Miscellaneous (Food, Museums, etc) – $800
Extended Stay ($1200)
- Total – $1200
We spent more than anticipated on Flights, Accommodation and Tickets. With the ease of access to stadiums, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up on tickets. Whereas, we’d typically attend 3 matches, we attended a total of 8, which increased costs by $800 or so.
Our accommodation averaged to about $260/night, which is higher than we’d typically spend.
Lastly, we wanted to fly Qatar Airways given that we were flying to Qatar and this was not the cheapest airline. We could have saved $500 at least if our focus was on keeping costs down. The thinking was “what if Qatar Airways does something incredibly memorable for passengers flying in and out of Qatar for the World Cup”…spoiler alert, they didn’t – but were still a great airline!
If we did NOT extend our stay, the %’s of each bucket matches very closely to what was stated above!
Don’t Forget To Leave Your Thoughts
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