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
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?