Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 12/5/11

So your favorite team made a bowl game- because well just about every team that should be playing at the FBS level makes a bowl game these days- and you want to go. Good, because you should go and enjoy yourself.

Since I’ve been to quite a few bowl games, and will be going to four more this year, I’ve put together a few tips to help you keep the cost down.

Tip No. 1: Pay attention to bowl predictions:

Why? Because about 20% of them are typically wrong. This means there are fans of other teams that have tickets to the game you want to go to. Those fans want to dump those tickets for anything they can get. Use this to your advantage. A good example of this would be Houston fans that may have jumped the gun and purchased Fiesta Bowl tickets.

Tip No. 2: Pay attention to if your team is game is expected to sellout.

Depending on this information you need to do one of the following.

* If not expected to sellout:

If the game is not expected to sell out (most aren’t) then don’t buy tickets from the bowl, your school or the opposing school. Buy them through the secondary market. This can be Stub Hub, EBay, craigslist or message boards like on SBNation and of course our lovely assortment of Bloguin based sites as well (e-mail Crystal Ball Run if you need to get in touch with a specific blogger). This is where tip No. 1 comes in, as you will want to check out the sites of other teams that may have been projected to that bowl.

Finally, try craigslist for the city around your team, your opponent’s team and the bowl’s host city. Also, most of the mid to lower tier bowls give out comp tickets to local groups such as peewee football, boy scouts, etc. and these tickets usually wind up in hands of scalpers. These tickets can be found on the streets or online usually for no more than $10, often two for $15 or $5 each if you haggle enough.

* If expected to sell out:

I mean a real sellout, not just an announced bowl sellout because the bowl stuck the schools with 10,000 tickets they can’t give away.

In this case, you need to jump in there and get tickets early Monday morning from your school. If not, you are going to usually pay above face value. If you don’t have enough points with your schools booster club to get tickets, then first thing you want to do is try to buy them through your opponent’s ticket office.

Often, one school sells out right away while the other doesn’t. Use this to your advantage. If that doesn’t work, then resort to the tactics listed above. There is usually some fan of your team that bought more tickets than they need and are willing to sell for face value plus shipping to a fellow fan.

Tip No. 3: If the bowl is in a small city, look for alternate cities to stay

Some cities are big enough that a bowl game doesn’t affect hotel prices. Most aren’t so

For example, if your team is scheduled to attend the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, LA you are likely to find hotel rooms going for double their normal price. Since you likely either drove or have a rental car, try staying in a different city 45 minutes to an hour away.

In this example, Texarkana, AR or TX, Longview, TX, Tyler TX, Ruston, LA or Monroe, LA are all viable options depending on what direction you are traveling from. The Longview and Tyler options are particularly great if you are flying into Dallas/Fort Worth since they are on the way.

Tip No. 4: Search airfare prices for multiple airports

Much like the hotel tips above, you can save a bundle by looking at alternate airports due to supply and demand. With sites like Kayak.com this is so easy to do these days.

In Miami, look at Fort Lauderdale and Miami both. If you're going to Orlando, look at Orlando, Tampa and Daytona Beach. Often, one of those airports has more competition so fares are lower.

From past experience, flying into Huntsville, AL and driving the extra 75 minutes to Birmingham saved over $600 a person round trip. My time is valuable, but not $600 for 2 ½ hours.

Tip #5: Rent a car and drive

Maybe your car doesn’t get the best gas mileage so taking it isn’t very economical, but your team is only playing six hours away so driving makes more sense. Try renting an economy car.

You can often find a deal for under $30 a day and get twice the gas mileage of your SUV, saving you money in the long run. Couple in the fact that it doesn’t add wear and tear to your vehicle, you don’t have to pay for the oil change and you don’t have to clean up any mess you make in the car and the idea isn’t as silly as it first sounds.

Conclusion:

No matter how you decide to travel, where you stay or where you buy your tickets, just go. It’s a different type of experience with a much more even split of fans than a typical road game. My experiences have always been much less hostile than a normal road experience, making it a great road trip to take your wife or girlfriend to.

Go and enjoy yourself.

For more information on his travels to college football games, bowls and more, follow Josh on Twitter @collegiatestadiums.

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