Did you plan a trip to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang South Korea? Will you travel to the Winter Olympics? Read the best tips on how to plan your Olympics travel.
What to pack, how to party and stay on budget. I show you how to enjoy as much as possible of your Olympics travel in Pyeongchang. Check my guide on what to know before you go to the Winter Olympics.
How to plan your time at the Winter Olympics?
By now, I assume you know how to plan a trip to the Winter Olympics. You have your flights to the Winter Olympics booked, you have hotel reservation and you have some tickets to games and events you’d like to see. Great! Let the Games begin!
Not really. Before you leave home or head out to Pyeongchang or Gangneung, here are some things to consider that help you plan your time at the Winter Olympics.
- Book your ticket for the train from Seoul Incheon airport to either Pyeongchang or Gangneung. Or if you don’t feel like booking a ticket, at least check times and prices.
- Familiarize yourself with the transport system for spectators in the mountain cluster and the seaside park and in between. Calculate plenty of time to get from one place to another. The transport system will be busy and can cause delays with boarding and de-boarding. For more about transportation, check here.
- I’m pretty sure you’ll know the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic sport schedule by heart by now, but in case you need a cheat sheet, print this and laminate it. As with all time management, know the times and be on time. Leave plenty of room for delays so you’ll not stress out on your Olympics travel.
Don’t plan your Olympic Trip Schedule too Tight
Be on time, know when the event start. These are all pretty basic recommendations I hear you think. Bare with me for a second.
I’m pretty OCD when it comes to travel planning. I think I have everything scheduled out and I hate being late. However, travel to the Olympics is a whole different ball game. I’ll give you a couple of things you might NOT expect about travel to the Winter Olympics.
The Winter Olympics are MASSIVE!
Huge! Of course, you know this, because you’ve seen it on TV, right? WRONG! It is nothing like what you see on TV. News networks have mini-vans that drive reporters from A to B. They have a whole team at the Winter Olympics who can give you the latest results from the hockey arena, followed by the inside scoop at the mountain cluster.
As a traveller to the Winter Olympics, it is probably just you. I’ll walk from place to place. You take the bus together with thousands of other people who all arrive at the same time. And that bus will only drop you off at the beginning of the Olympic park, from there you’ll speed walk for miles to get to the venue in time.
The Winter Olympics are CROWDED!
You know this, right? Of course you do. I knew it and it surprised me still. And I was amazed how many people arrived at the same time at the check points. It surprised me how many people wanted to get a drink at the exact same time as me!
I was amazed how many people are walking back and forth in between venues, strolling, playing, running, standing. There were people everywhere. On my first day at the Olympic park, the bus was late, so I was late. I speed walked across the Olympic park, manoeuvring my way across a sea of people. I was terrible late!
Leave room for unexpected events
When you plan your trip to the Winter Olympics, you know what events you want to attend and what things you want to do. My suggestion would be to not plan too tight and leave room for unexpected events.
For example, at the Sochi Winter Olympics, I won tickets for the front row medal ceremony! I had plans for that evening, but of course, I cancelled it.
I bumped into old friends and wanted to hang out and chat together and forgot all about my plans for the afternoon.
And what do you say when someone invites you as a VIP guest to their medal party and you actually have a plane to catch? (spoiler alert: I got to hold an Olympic medal and still managed to catch my flight).
Of course, when you travel to the Olympics, you want to see the sports. But the nice thing about the Olympics, is the whole circus around it. There are shows, museums, fairs, entertainment, you name it, they got it! Even if you don’t have tickets for the sports events, you can still have a fabulous time at the Olympic park!
You will NOT get lost at the Olympics
I was pretty anxious when I travelled to the Olympics. There is a lot unknown about Winter Olympics travel as many events and logistics are newly built. But there are thousands of volunteers everywhere. The tourist office is fully manned and everyone will do their utmost best to help you and make sure you have a good time. So, whatever problem arises, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Packing List for Winter Olympics Travel
One thing you might have the right to stress out about is the weather. The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics are feared predicted to be the coldest Winter Olympics to date. Here are my must-have winter travel items:
- Lip balm. I never ever travel anywhere without my Vaseline Cocao lip balm. It keeps the lips soft and prevents dryness or busted lips.
- Thermal underwear. Long sleeves and trousers. Although it is called underwear, I consider it a base layer for travel in harsh environments.
- Thermal socks. If your feet are cold or wet, you’ll never get warm again. Ever. Invest in a good pair of socks to keep you warm.
- Icebreaker Merino Wool shirt (long sleeves). The one thing that kept me warm at all my winter travels, I swear with the Merino Wool shirts. You can have a full zipper or not, as long as the wool is good quality, you’re warm.
- Fleece hoodie. As long as you have your long shirt and underwear, your base layer is covered. So it doesn’t really matter what kind of fleece sweater you wear, but I love a hoodie. Keeps you comfortable when you’re
hungry, cranky,tired and the pockets are super easy for your ticket, spectator pass, and phone.
- Padded body warmer. The Winter Olympics in Sochi felt more like the Caribbean with the palm trees and the sun so I didn’t even wear a coat. Ok, you might say a body warmer is soooo ’90’s but looks don’t matter when you’re sick to your stomach of being cold. Keep warm and wear a smile, you’ll look great.
- Woolen hat. Any woolen hat. Or fleece hat. As long as it is not a wide knit that has the wind go gushing through, it is a good hat. Better take one with double insulation.
- Gloves. The perfect gloves are the ones that fit your hand (like a glove). And are easy to remove. Don’t sweat and don’t let the wind through.
If you stay outside all day, keep moving. Drink plenty of (hot) beverages but keep it low on the alcohol intake. If you plan to sit down, get one of those foam cushions to sit on. Nothing will make you turn into a Popsicle faster than a frozen bum.
Other things you definitely need to bring when you plan a trip to the Winter Olympics are: your countries flag to show your support. A little booklet to get autographs by your (kid’s) favorite sport’s hero. A camera (duh!) to snap some Olympic selfies and of course: your tickets to the venues and your spectator pass.
It’s not all sports at the Winter Olympics
Although I really loved the sporting events I got to witness at the Winter Olympics, my most cherished memories are those that happened outside the sporting arenas! So how to let your hair down when you travel to the Olympics? Some quick tips:
- Go to the medal ceremonies. Even if you don’t know the winners, celebrating their sports achievements is great to witness. I went to 3 medal ceremonies and had a great time with all the different nationalities and people from around the globe celebrating.
- I totally forgot to eat during my time at the Olympic Park. Wait? What? Is the necessary? I was so busy enjoying the sports events and making myself ready to go to the next one. I totally forget that I needed time to eat. And just sit down and relax for a bit. Try some Gangwon-do or other Korean foods.
- Enjoy some culture at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. For example at the Pyeongchang Olympic Plaza or the Gangneun Art Centre.
- Join the party! At the Olympic park, there are plenty of Nations houses. I had a great time at the Swiss house. And of course, us dutchies had a lot to celebrate at the Holland House or visit the TeamUSA in Pyeongchang.
- We all grew up watching the Olympics on TV. Although travel to the Olympics already is a dream come true, what could top that?! How about meeting your sports hero in the TV studio and attend a live sports broadcast?! Sign me up! That was what I said when I first found out about this opportunity with Dutch television. Not sure how things will plan out in Pyeongchang, but if you get the chance: go for it!
Keep to your Olympic Travel Budget
When it comes to money I am very strict. I don’t have much and the money I do have, I try to spend wisely so I can travel as much as possible. Temptation to spend more money at the Olympics is everywhere, so here are some tips to keep to your Olympics Travel Budget!
- Buy your Olympic tickets only via official sales points. Check out availability and prices at the official Pyeongchang Olympic ticket website. Don’t be persuaded to buy 2nd hand tickets (online or in-person) besides from the Fan-to-Fan portal. If you want to get some last-minute tickets to the Olympic winter sports events, consider going to the ticket offices and see what last-minute tickets are still on sale. You can find the offline ticket centers at: Seoul City Hall, Gangneung City Hall, Gangwon-do Provincial Office, at Incheon Airport or 19 train stations in the area. You can also find ticket booths around the Venues once the Winter Games have started.
- The Pyeongchang Winter Olympic mascots are super cute? Aren’t they? Soohorang and Bandabi look cute and feature on many official Winter Olympic merchandise. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy anything at all, but maybe check prices first and carefully evaluate if you really need the 100 items you want to buy?
- Although you can pay everywhere at the Olympic park with plastic, keep to your budget. See on the first day what your meals and drinks and snacks will cost you and keep this as a daily budget. Of course, you can splurge a day or two, but trust me, the Olympics are expensive enough. You don’t want to come home to a hefty credit card statement!
Are you going to Winter Olympics Pyeongchang 2018
Lucky you! I hope you’ll have a great time and are super excited about the Winter Games in South Korea. My tips will help you manage your time at the Olympics and show you how to make the most of your Olympics travel.
Can’t get enough of sports? Check out these 15 Sporting Events you can’t miss while traveling from A Pair of Passports. Have you ever planned a trip to the Winter Olympics? Or are you going to Pyeongchang? Let me know in the comment section below!
All my opinions and experiences are my own. This post does contain affiliate links. If you decide to book a service via one of my links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
I’ve always been an Olympic junkie and I live in Vancouver so I was fortunate enough to attend quite a few events here for the Winter 2010 Olympics. I’d love to attend another Olympic games some day. The atmosphere in the city is just incredible!
Great article Naomi. Will we see you in Pyeongchang?
No unfortunately not Carol. But I’ll be rooting for the whole family.
Great article. Tokyo 2020 will be a much more “compact” Olympics so getting around from place to place with the existing transportation and infrastructure should be relatively easy. Still, your second tip, “Don’t plan your schedule too tight,” will be very important in 2020! Thanks for posting this.
We haven’t been to the Olympics, but we did go to the Euros, and I have to agree that preparation is key! Everything from where you’re planning to go before a match to who has the tickets to where you will meet in an emergency or if you get separated. Being prepared makes for a much less stressful experience!
Absolutely Kelly, those events are just massive and preparation is key to make the most out of the experience.
Pingback: Feature Friday | Naomi from Probe Around the Globe | B Travels Better