Plan Your Trip: 7 Steps To Attend a World Cup

Person Holding World Globe Facing Mountain

As we explain about ourselves and our motivation for creating the site, we once believed attending a World Cup trip was for the lucky ones. Decades later, we’ve been on a streak of World Cups attending, cumulating in a wealth of knowledge and we attempt at summarizing the steps below.

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

Your 7 Steps to Attend a FIFA World Cup:

  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 have heard great things when combing live tutoring conversations with DuoLingo.

Step 1 – Determine Your Budget:

composition of calculator with paper money and notebook with pen
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The first question you should ask yourself is “How much money will I need?” The article linked goes into details about the last 2 tournaments on where we spent our money and how much money we spent. A general rule we try to live by is to expect $5,000 and plan from there. Read Step 2 for more on that…

Can you travel for less? Of course.

Do you need to spend the equivalent of $10,000 USD to travel, stay a week, watch some games? No. But can you spend $10,000+ USD? Absolutely!  (Tip: If you want to travel in luxury, check out our article on how you can have a white-glove experience.)

If you can utilize hotel points or airline miles/points to subsidize any part of the trip, it can only help. The Points Guy is a very popular blogger on how to maximize use of loyalty point schemas. Hotel points most likely won’t be possible because they’ll be blacked out but airline points can be a huge saver!

Once you have a budget, start saving now. Can you set aside $100 / month for 4 years? If so, using an online savings account (we use Ally due to its high interest rates), you could have $5,000.

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 is then 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 World Cup draw & Phase 2 Ticket Sales (typically 6-7 months before the tournament begins) to see where your team is playing and on what dates.

However, 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. This means, you can start trying for tickets in Phase 1 and booking travel accordingly.

And if your highest priority is visiting specific cities, you can use the preliminary schedule to start determining which tickets you want to request through all phases. We did this in Germany 2006 as we made an itinerary based on cities to visit and then adjusted and requested tickets while at the tournament.

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 and have the least amount of opposition.

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

Step 3 – Request Game Tickets:

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

Regardless, get an account created on FIFA and read our thorough article here on creating a FIFA account and buying World Cup tickets.

Each tournament is slightly different so also check our site for your specific tournament (e.g. Qatar 2022 or Australia/New Zealand 2023).

Step 4 – Acquire Travel Documents:

passport on top of a planner
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

Like any international trip, 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?

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 (you read that correctly, no cost).

For Russia 2018, a Fan ID was introduced for the 1st time and was needed to be in your possession to attend a game with an official ticket. Qatar 2022 used a Hayya Card, which is essentially a Fan ID. These documents became your visa AND a requirement to get into the stadium.

We have not seen any reference to a Fan ID for the Women’s tournaments yet; implying that fans will have to enter the host countries per standard international travel circumstances.

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. Whereas in previous tournaments, if you didn’t have a match ticket, you could still enter the country per regular tourist visa requirements and then later get a ticket. We do not anticipate seeing this kind of control again, but nothing is ever certain with FIFA.

For updates on Fan IDs regarding the upcoming tournaments, read more details here.

That said, restrictions and rules vary from host to host and FIFA does whatever the hell they want.

Step 5 – Determine Transportation:

man holding luggage bag
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

How will you get to the Host Country, where will you stay, how will you get around? 

Our key principal when traveling to the World Cup is to avoid driving and to find a place that has ample public transportation or is incredibly walkable.

That said, we have met many brave and adventurous souls who not only rent cars but drive hours every day to follow their teams across vast countries.

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).
    • We have met people who saved thousands of $$$ per ticket by have multiple overnight flights & for them, it was worth it.
  • Try flying to a neighboring city/country and then determining ease of access from there.
    • Perhaps there’s a train to connect cities or it is a few hour drive, etc.
  • Use a site that congregates flight options or provides alerts:

Step 6 – Book Accommodations:

group of people in a leisure trip
Photo by Sergio Aguirre on Pexels.com

Accommodations can be a massive challenge. Look at Qatar 2022 as an example.

With that said, you may have to share a farmhouse with 10 strangers if you’re on a really tight budget! Or – and this was for Qatar – stay in a tent out in the desert! (We actually stayed on a cruise ship in Qatar).

When it is possible, our preference is to find B&B’s and with the continued presence of companies like AirBnb, the options can be more plentiful than at first glance (except in Qatar where there was a big limitation).

We’ve had great success with unique and affordable accommodations. Check out this example in Brazil as well.

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

Our recommendation is to book as early as possible once you have your priorities lined up. Rates will be increased but there should be plenty of options in most host countries. Check our lodging specific article here.

Step 7 – Experience the Trip of a Lifetime:

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

Get yourself packed and then it is smooth sailing from there because you’ve set a budget, saved the money, figured out what mattered most, secured your tickets and then booking transportation and accommodation. You’re set.

You’ll create lifelong memories (like camel riding in the desert with Croatian fans!) 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.

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