Plan Your Trip: 7 Steps To Attend a World Cup

Person Holding World Globe Facing Mountain

It is a common misconception that traveling to experience the World Cup in person is an impossible feat. An idea that is thought of as “Once in a lifetime”, etc. We are here to tell you it is NOT impossible – hell, there’s two World Cups (Men + Women) every 4 years – and we want to help you get there.

Here’s a great quote for motivation before continuing on below…

“View your life from your funeral: Looking back at your life experiences, what have you accomplished? What would you have wanted to accomplish but didn’t? What were the happy moments? What were the sad? What would you do again, and what wouldn’t you do?”

–Victor Frankl

Our 7 Steps to Attend a FIFA World Cup Include:

  1. Determine Your Budget
  2. Define Your Priorities
  3. Request Game Tickets
  4. Acquire Travel Documents
  5. How Will You Travel (Internationally & Domestically)
  6. Book Accommodations
  7. Experience the Trip of a Lifetime

Worth Mentioning

Depending on your goals and destination of the World Cup, you may want to invest in a tutor to learn the native country(ies) language OR to communicate with fans around the world easily.

There’s no better way than to get a tutor. These days you can get a virtual tutor for affordable prices.

We recently stumbled upon LanguaTalk which offers the best tutors for almost any language – on your time.

This is not an ad but a mention to supplement any DuoLingo plans.

Step 1 – Determine Your Budget:

The first question you should ask yourself is “How much money will I need?”

Well…”it depends” as only YOU know what’s important for your trip.

Do you need to spend the equivalent of $10,000 USD to travel, stay a week, watch some games? No. CAN you spend $10,000+ USD? Absolutely! 

As I mention below, if you can utilize hotel points or airline miles/points to subsidize any part of the trip, it can only help.

Step 2 – Define Your Priorities:

Determine what you value most…

  • Watching a specific team/game?
  • Visiting specific cities?
  • Attending ANY game?
  • Combination?
  • Length of your stay

This then is your driving factor for all other decisions.  I’ll explain.  If you value a team/game more than anything else, you will want to first wait for the draw in December 2017 to see where your team is.  Then again, if you are 100% confident that going to the opening game, semi-final or final is most important, then who cares – you can plan your journey already b/c the preliminary schedule has already been released and you can start worrying about travel.

And if your highest priority is visiting specific cities, you can use the preliminary schedule to start planning your next phase of the trip (tickets).

If you have no preference of city OR game but seeing some game is a ‘must’, then the Phase 1 of ticket sales is vital for your success.  It is here you can request tickets to a range of games. 

During Phase 1 of ticket sales (explained in the ticket section), you are basically requesting on date and/or city.  I have never missed out on tickets with a Phase 1 ticket request.

During Phases 2 and 3 (See Step 3 below), you can make your request based on team and current demand (i.e. if you see that a certain game has a low demand, go for that one as your chances of receiving a ticket are dramatically increased).

But – once you can figure out your specific priority, you can then start planning the next step.

Step 3 – Request Game Tickets:

Admission Tickets

There are multiple Phases of ticket sales so depending on your priorities in Step 1 above, your focus will be set in Phase 1 (pre-draw), Phase 2 (post-draw), Phase 3 (first come, first serve). 

For more details, visit our article on Buying World Cup tickets.

Each tournament is slightly different so also check our site for your specific tournament (e.g. Qatar 2022).

Step 4 – Acquire Travel Documents:

Now that you have official tickets and plans, it is essential you know what travel documents are required.  Clearly, you need a passport; however, will you need a visa document, will FIFA have a special visa, etc?

For Russia 2018, a Fan ID was needed to attend a game with an official ticket.

Qatar 2022 used a Hayya Card, which is essentially a Fan ID.

What is a Fan ID? It is FIFA’s way of trying to reduce the number of tickets that go for resale on the black market.  (Ironic given their history of black market dealings.)

The Russian government created a wonderful “Tourist Portal” and provided more detail than FIFA’s site on some items.

Qatar created their own site as well.

If you want to compare to history, the 2014, 2018 and 2022 allowed anyone with an official game ticket to receive a visa specifically made for the tournament…for FREE (yeah, that’s right, something was done for free).

However, Qatar 2022 was incredibly unique b/c without a ticket you could not apply for the Fan ID/visa and without that you could not get into the country. We do NOT anticipate seeing this kind of control again.

The restrictions and rules vary from country to country and year to year.

Step 5 – Determine Transportation:

How will you get to the Host Country, where will you stay, how will you get around?  If you’re like me, driving sounds terrible and you’ll try to find a place that has ample public transportation or is incredibly walkable.

Flights will undoubtedly make up a huge portion of your budget.  To cut down on costs here at some pointers:

  • Use miles (airline or credit card)
  • Be open to connections…and terrible ones at that (e.g. think 24 hr layovers). 
    • I met people who saved thousands of $$$ per ticket spending multiple days traveling to Brazil 2014 but for them, it was worth it.
  • Try flying to a neighboring city/country and then determining ease of access from there.
  • Use a site that congregates flight options or provides alerts:

Step 6 – Book Accommodations:

As discussed in the travel section of this site, accommodating can be a massive challenge.  That section goes into more detail about FIFA’s “official recommendation” but know that there are options for every budget. 

With that said, you may have to share a farmhouse with 10 strangers if you’re on a really tight budget! I prefer to find B&B’s and with the continued presence of companies like AirBnb, the options are nearly endless.

We’ve had great success with accommodations.

Qatar 2022 was by far the most difficult place to secure accommodations due to their full control of hotels without much transparency.

You can also find all of our lodging related articles here.

Step 7 – Experience the Trip of a Lifetime:

Life is all about experiences and attending the World Cup is one of the best.

You’ll create lifelong memories and friends from all across the world.  It is amazing to witness firsthand how the beautiful game can unite strangers and cultural differences.

Where else can you hangout with a Syrian government worker and discuss politics, literally rub shoulders with natives from Cameroon and Denmark at the exact time and be hazed by English fans – all in the same day?  The answer is nowhere.

Closing Comments

As massive World Cup fans ourselves, we strive to provide helpful interpretations and perspectives, so please let us know how we’re doing.

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