. My top 5 sports and travel moments of 2012 : Budget Travel Adventures

My top 5 sports and travel moments of 2012

sports and travel Cowboys Stadium tour Jeremy Branham Dallas Cowboys star

Standing on the Dallas Cowboys star – not a sports and travel moment I ever thought I would have

Peanut butter and jelly.  Salt and pepper.  Thunder and lightning.  These are things that go together or complement one another.  Sports and travel?  Not something most people think about as a pair.

Over the last year, this is something I have been trying to change.  It started with the College Football Travel Tour that turned into a dream series with Expedia.  However, people may see “football game” and think this is just about sports.

They would be wrong.

Whether it’s a football game or big guys in kilts throwing heavy objects, there’s beauty in the destination and the people.  Sports and travel do go together.

Top 5 sports and travel moments of 2012

Here are my best sports and travel moments of the year and why these experiences are so much more than a game.

5.  A tour of Cowboys Stadium

I’ve spent my entire adult life rooting against the Cowboys.  I don’t really like the NFL that much.  However, I do love sports stadiums (baseball, football, the other football/soccer – you name it).

So when I got a chance to get a private one on one tour of Cowboys Stadium to see the biggest video board in the world, I was excited.  Quite honestly, the stadium was impressive as it gives fans an up close and personal experience.

I may not like the Cowboys.  Even these photos make me cringe a little.  However, I was impressed by the stadium that Jerry Jones built.

As a kid, I didn’t have a sports and travel dream.  When I was 5 years old, I wanted to play professional baseball.  I held onto those dreams until college.

Even though I never played football and don’t like the Cowboys, I don’t look bad in an NFL jersey right?

sports and travel Dallas Cowboys Dez Bryant Jeremy Branham

I look good in a Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant’s jersey

4.  Men in kilts

This year, I got to reconnect with old friends.  We’ve all had those times where we get excited about seeing people we haven’t seen in a long time.

However, these friends aren’t normally twice your size, wearing kilts, and throwing heavy objects.

Last year, I met Chad, Rusty, Sean, and many others at the Sacramento Scottish Highlands Games and Festival.  This year, reuniting gave me goose bumps as we connected once again.

This time, I wore a kilt, posed for a photo, and tossed some haggis nearly 80 feet.  I learned that all of us put on our kilts one leg at a time.  And the personal lives of these Scottish Highlands games athletes are pretty amazing and inspiring.

sports and travel Scottish Highlands Games professional athletes Jeremy Branham

Big men in kilts make me look small

3.  Tailgating in Corvallis

On this cold, rainy Saturday morning, I was meeting a group of people I had never met before.  I enjoyed a screwdriver for breakfast as Christian introduced me to some Beaver fans.  It was one of the best tailgating experiences of the year.

While the Civil War featured 10-1 Oregon versus 8-2 Oregon State, this is another great sports and travel memory about people.  After tailgating in Corvallis, I have new friends that I hope to keep in touch with for a long time.

sports and travel tailgating Corvallis Oregon State Oregon Civil War

All my rowdy friends in Corvallis

2.  Notre Dame football and the Irish people

Notre Dame is known as the fighting Irish.  However, the Irish people aren’t combative at all.  At the end of August, I traveled to Dublin Ireland to watch Notre Dame play Navy in football.

When I watched that first Notre Dame game of the year in Dublin, Notre Dame was unranked and most people had no clue who Manti Te’o was.  A few months later and now Notre Dame is playing in the BCS national title game against Alabama and Te’o finished as the Heisman runner up.

While watching a college football game in Ireland was great, my best experiences on the first stop of the College Football Travel Tour were with the people.

I met ESPN personality and former NFL football player Mike Golic.

I met two Irish filmmakers, Eamonn and Sean, who were featured in the Toronto Film Festival for their film Men At Lunch.

I hung out in pubs with some new Irish friends until 4 am.

I met and interviewed two Irish students at Trinity College in Dublin.

The people are what I will remember about this college football game.  The Irish people taught me a few life lessons.

This was one of my top 10 travel moments of the year.

sports and travel Notre Dame football Navy Manti Teo

Notre Dame BCS national title contender, Manti Te’o Heisman Trophy runner up. Who knew?

1.  The Expedia College Football Travel Tour

While I’ve already talked about the first and last games of my tour this season, the entire College Football Travel Tour series was a dream come true.

Never would I imagine that the biggest travel company in the world would send me around the country to watch college football games.

I am humbled and thank Expedia for being a part of this tour and giving me a sports and travel moment that I’ll never forget.  While this was hard work, I enjoyed writing the Expedia College Football Travel Guides for all of my trips.

From Ireland to Oregon, Miami to Colorado, and many places in between, I am thankful for the opportunities, experiences, and people that I met along the way.

I saw Notre Dame play their first game of the year.  I was supposed to see Alabama play in the one game they lost.  I went to Miami in October and sat in Sun Life Stadium – home to this year’s BCS National Championship game.

I saw teams from 7 different conferences in 5 different time zones.  I was on the field to see Ohio State beat Cal at The Horseshoe.

sports and travel Ohio State Cal football

on the field for Ohio State and Cal

Combining college football with towns and cities all over the US – you can’t have a better sports and travel experience than I did this year.

Until next year.

I’ve got bigger ideas.  And yes, I hope the College Football Travel Tour is a part of the 2013 sports and travel moments of the year.

Do you have a favorite sports memory from 2012?  What’s your favorite travel experience from the past year?

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RSSComments (9)

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  1. Cassie says:

    WHAT!?! Meeting Brutus Buckeye wasn’t one of them?!? How could you! :)

    Happy new year!

    • If I recall, Brutus wasn’t on your list either :) However, special moments with mascots AND people are something I will definitely remember from this year’s College Football Travel Tour! :)

  2. Steve Whitty says:

    As you may have guessed being in Madrid during the Euro 2012 final was high on the list. However, I am going to name being in the UK during the Olympics. I could not get any tickets for the events as I was on jury service at the time but for those two weeks I saw my country unite and feel proud again.

    • I am not a big fan of Madrid but I love football and enjoy watching Spain play. That would have been pretty awesome to be there! The Olympics are really special too. I wrote about how the Olympics are one event where the world comes together and we read about great inspirational stories. There is always a sense of national pride for the host country but for me, I enjoy seeing people of all races, cultures, and religions come together in peace through sports.

  3. Cailin says:

    Sounds like a great year full of some awesome experiences :) I would love to see a College game in the states sometime!

    • Thanks Cailin. Let me know and I can hook you up. If you’ve never seen a college football game, your mind will be blow by the size of the crowds and how crazy it can get. It would be a fun experience for a Canadian! :)

      Hoping I do a few more events this year to add to this list for 2013!

  4. Even if one does not know you, after this post it is quite clear that you are a sports fan. 😀 You have been to a lot of awesome places… I am not an expert on football, but seeing a game in Ireland must have been amazing! :)

  5. Rob says:

    I’m a huge NASCAR fan and thought tailgating parties were big until I experienced an NFL game in Kansas a few years back! Sounds like you’re having too much fun! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Rob! KC is a HUGE pro football market – one of the best atmospheres in the NFL. However, I still don’t think they come close to the tailgating scene you will find in college – especially the South. Since you are a fan of NASCAR, you should check out the tailgating for a big SEC football game. May be comparable to NASCAR but I doubt there is anything like it in sports.

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