Traveling to the World Cup can be both a dream come true and a nightmare. Having the right items can make or break that journey as queues can become quite long throughout the trip.
After traveling to World Cups across the globe, we’ve learned a few things on what can enhance the experience if you’re prepared ahead of time.
Check out our (always evolving) list of packing suggestions that we compiled from our own notes as well as others who have submitted comments.
Are we missing a great idea, let us know! We’ve already added a few items from readers.
JUMP DIRECTLY TO:
- World Cup Kits
- Electronics for Staying Connected & Entertained
- Travel-Centric Comfort
- Digital Card for Connecting w/ Other Fans
- Don’t Forget To Leave Your Thoughts
World Cup Kits
Let’s get the obvious out of the way…
You’re traveling across the world to watch the beautiful game and cheer on your favorite team. You should grab the best threads for your favorite team.
For laughs, you can also read our guest article on ranking 2022 World Cup jerseys that contains some unique takes and comments.
Women’s World Cup Kits
Men’s World Cup Kits
Electronics for Staying Connected & Entertained
Have you considered how you’ll likely be out, roaming the streets all day and night when you’re at the World Cup? What’s your plan to stay connected during 16 hour days, long planes/trains/automobile rides?
Don’t get caught disconnected in a month of constant content consumption!
Disclaimer: As we are supported by our audience, please note that at absolutely no cost to you, we may earn a commission for any item purchased via the links above.
Here’s what makes it into our suitcase for the tournaments:
This is a must have and FIFA allows one per person to enter the stadiums. We actually bring 2 and leave one in the room charging as an insurance policy to ourselves. You don’t want your phone dying as you’re capturing memories.
Sure, you can buy one once you’re on the ground, but is that what you want to spend your time doing?
A few of us travel, or used to travel weekly for work and can say with confidence that packing an extra charger can be quite the savior. I have definitely been at a match or two where the battery dies, the extender battery was dead and I could plug in somewhere.
It’s another must-have item; but you can always make the purchase on the ground. Who wants to do that, though?
Ever traveled half-way across the world with groups of fans on all sides of you, singing their beloved songs and chants? It’s great…until it’s not. Noise-cancellation headphones are a privileged necessity at times to make it through the travel.
Here are a few items we pack to navigate a new country with fans from around the world.
Reader Suggestion: Hear me out – ever wonder if your luggage made it off the plane and into the right carousel or if you checked luggage into the hotel, you get anxiety if it is still there? Maybe you can use one of these?
How about a personal tale? At 2006 World Cup, a friend I was with lost his passport. It fell out of his pocket without knowing about it. Fortunately, we were staying in a very small town in Bavaria because someone found it, had heard that a local family had foreign visitors for the World Cup and knocked on their door before we headed to the town center to watch Germany vs. Argentina. However, that friend now uses AirTags to reduce his anxiety. Whatever your possession, this may soothe your nerves. Yes – the reader who made the suggestion is this friend.
Sleep is vital for a pleasant trip and doing so on planes, trains and automobiles can be uncomfortable and challenging. All of out there have searched far and wide for the perfect device that solves this problem. Well…can’t say it is perfect but this neck pillow has been the best one we’ve used. Maybe it will provide you with a different experience than what you’re accustomed to and is an improvement? Either way, good luck to you!
Not sure how big of a problem this will be at the current World Cup but in years past, RFID scanning was a legit concern. Not being a big wallet person in general and needing a quick storage of 1-2 cards, ID and possibly a small bit of cash, the newer money clips are solid. There’s not a specific one we’d really recommend as there’s all different styles but you get the idea.
Honestly, this is not something any of us have used in the past and can be chalked up to “reader suggestion” and is a new addition to the article.
These sound like a brilliant idea and pop up on other popular travel-oriented blogs so they must be useful. And because of that, we accepted this “reader suggestion” and perhaps 1 person out there will find some quality value from these!
Another “reader suggestion” & mentioned in our interview w/ Qatar Tour Guide, Mariela.
Knowing your climate and packing for the elements is vital to your sanity. You don’t want to be caught with wet feet or clothes all day or be in a shopping hunt for gear, competing against tens of thousands of other visitors when a random rain shower hits. In fact, for South Africa, we purchased high-end, water-proof hiking shoes which saved our comfort level then similar shoes turned out to be a necessity in Brazil as well (as these photos illustrate).
Also, you don’t want to buy a light jacket on the spot if the temperatures drop lower than you anticipated. For Qatar 2022, the evenings can be cooler than you think!
This suggestion is all about the light-weight, doesn’t-take-up-much-room-in-the-suitcase, compact jacket. A specific recommendation doesn’t come to mind here but linking below to some examples.
Sunglasses will likely be essential for watching games at the Fan Fests or even in stadium, depending on the sun setting patterns (something that likely is an unknown for many of the stadiums). We highlighted the brand Goodr in the image because of their affordability, effectiveness and most importantly, fun colors that can match a kit.
If you’re carrying a pack of any kind, read the Stadium Code of Conduct before you bring it to a stadium. That said, there will supposedly be a check-in service for items at each stadium; however, do you really want to do that? At least a check-in service is better than leaving your gear outside the stadium, only for it to be stolen later. (That happened to us in Recife, 🇧🇷 (2014) when we borrowed our B&B’s umbrella due to torrential rains and flooding and had to leave it outside. Of course, we had to replace it once we discovered it was stolen.)
Anyways, back to the packs. We are a fan of Osprey daypacks and their overall value to tout precious goods around for 16 hours a day. And to be clear – we are not endorsing these or guaranteeing entry into a stadium. We typically attend matches without a bag to avoid the nuisance. Whether or not your like these specific packs, find something compact, durable & useful!
You can always check Amazon or similar sites for hats, face paint, tshirts, etc.
There’s also these collectives that can be fun to travel with to share with others – or purchase to stay connected at home and feel like you’re closer to the action.
Wall Schedule / Interactive Brackets
Did you even travel to a World Cup if you didn’t spend your free time reading books about the World Cup or the international game?
Check some of these out, most of which are from reader submissions.
Get yourself a Kindle if you don’t already have one and don’t want to haul books around the Cup.
You can also sign-up for free 30 Days of Kindle Unlimited if you are going to have long layovers, transits, etc.
Thirty One Nil by James Montague
Amazon describes this book well. Here it is: Named after the greatest victory (and defeat) that the World Cup qualifiers have ever seen (Australia’s 31-0 victory over American Samoa), Thirty-One Nil is the story of how footballers from all corners of the globe begin their journey chasing a place at the World Cup Finals.
It celebrates the part-time priests, princes and hopeless chancers who dream of making it to Brazil, in defiance of the staggering odds stacked against them. It tells the story of teams who have struggled for their very existence through political and social turmoil, from which they will very occasionally emerge into international stardom.
From the endlessly humiliated San Marino to lowly Haiti; from war-torn Lebanon to the oppressed and fleet-footed players of Eritrea, in Thirty-One Nil James Montague gets intimately and often dangerously close to some of the world’s most extraordinary teams, and tells their exceptional stories.
Ready to dive into the FBI and IRS investigations that took shook the world? If you answered no, this book is not for you. The FIFA case began small, boosted by an IRS agent’s review of an American soccer official’s tax returns. But that humble investigation eventually led to a huge worldwide corruption scandal that crossed continents and reached the highest levels of the soccer’s world governing body in Switzerland.
Remarkably, this corruption existed for decades before American law enforcement officials began to secretly dig, finally revealing that nearly every aspect of the planet’s favorite sport was corrupted by bribes, kickbacks, fraud, and money laundering. Not even the World Cup, the most-watched sporting event in history, was safe from the thick web of corruption, as powerful FIFA officials extracted their bribes at every turn.
Blood on the Crossbar: The Dictatorship’s World Cup by Rhys Richards
What do you know about World Cup Argentina 1978? It was a glorious tournament celebrated by everyone within the country? Well…..this book is the story of the most controversial football World Cup of all time. When Argentina both hosted and won the World Cup in 1978, it was against the backdrop of a brutal military dictatorship in the country.
From Amazon’s summary: It’s a story of the people: Argentinean exiles, Parisian students, brave journalists, the marching mothers of Plaza de Mayo and their missing children – and Dutch stand-up comedians who led international boycotts from thousands of miles away.
Finding the Game by Gwedolyn Oxenham
At some point in time you probably thought “let’s quit our jobs and travel the world playing pickup”. Well, Gwen and her now husband did exactly that, globe-trotting far and wide and experiencing first-hand how the beautiful game can connect the most diverse cultures and heritage. (Fun Fact – they also turned it into a documentary called “Pelada”).
From Amazon’s Summary: In Finding the Game, Oxenham, along with her boyfriend and two friends, chases the part of the game that outlasts a career. They bribe their way into a Bolivian prison, bet shillings on a game with moonshine brewers in Kenya, play with women in hijab on a court in Tehran—and discover what the world looks like when you wander down side streets, holding on to a ball.
Another “reader suggestion”! Here’s the Amazon Summary: Blending witty travelogue with action on the field―and shady dealings in back rooms―George Vecsey offers an eye-opening, globe-trotting account of eight World Cups. He immerses himself in the great national leagues, historic clubs, and devoted fans and provides his up-close impressions of charismatic soccer stars like Sócrates, Maradona, Baggio, and Zidane, while also chronicling the rise of the U.S. men’s and women’s teams.
Vecsey shows how each host nation has made the World Cup its own, from the all-night street parties in Spain in 1982 to the roar of vuvuzelas in South Africa in 2010, as the game in the stadium is backed up by the game in the street. But the joy is sometimes undermined by those who style themselves the game’s protectors.
Messi vs. Ronaldo: One Rivalry, Two GOATs, and the Era That Remade the World’s Game by Jonathan Clegg & Joshua Robinson
Saw this pop up as a recommendation from Grant Wahl and with a title like “Messi vs Ronaldo” – the authors know how to pique interests. How could you not take a look?
Here’s an excerpt from Amazon review:
Wall Street Journal reporters Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg offer a deeply reported account of the intertwined sagas and legacies of two of the greatest soccer players of all time—Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo—examining how their rivalry has grown from a personal competition to a multi-billion-dollar industry, paralleling the stunning rise, overwhelming excesses, and uncertain future of modern international soccer.
Have a book suggestion, let us know!
We love adding to our collection but want to keep this list to 10 books or less.
Random encounters that turn into a lifelong friend is half the fun at World Cup. In fact, some of the ideas of the core group that builds this site bonded together from World Cups past.
Sooner or later, virtual cards to share a variety of contact details will be the norm. Well, we came across a solution that was originally created for digital business cards but works for personal use because of the ability for the receiver to also share details, without ever having to sign up.
This could really be useful for connecting with other fans at the World Cup!
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