London 2012: Tickets, Travel and Hotel—Planning Your Olympics Splurge
According to The Telegraph, the final round of Olympic tickets went on sale Wednesday morning. Many of the marquee disciplines are already sold out, but organizers told The Telegraph that there remains "good availability" for sports such as archery, badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, diving, handball and hockey.
So if you want to hit London this summer, you best act fast. Otherwise, you may have to brave the extortionist waters of online brokerage.
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On Friday, London Olympic organizers will release an additional one million event tickets to the sport-hungry masses (via the AP).
But before you take an impetuous stab at scoring some seats, you should know that this is going to cost you.
Oh man, is it going to cost you.
Putting on my hopelessly outdated travel agent hat—it's a Scottish tam—I've crunched the numbers on this summer's most expensive vacation.
Faster, higher, stronger—costlier.
Let's set our departure point for New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.
And let's imagine we want to arrive in London in time for the opening ceremony on July 27 and leave on August 13, the morning after the closing ceremony.
According to the most recent rates available on Travelocity.com, that trip should cost us...
Total Cost: $1,233
Now, we could save some coin by flying non-direct, but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble.
By accepting a 14-hour return trip that connects through Paris, you'll save $150. You'll also spend an additional seven hours in the mangled innards of international plane travel.
I've also looked into a couple of classic traveler shortcuts,—fly to Paris, and then take the Chunnel, hop through Iceland—but none of them seem any cheaper.
For once, it seems the airlines aren't ripping us off.
Alternative No. 1: Ship yourself via FedEx
Big dilemma: Do you pack food, or do you purposefully starve yourself? The food will keep you alive, but consider the consequences if you eat too much.
Alternative No. 2: Swim
According to my hasty research, this has never been done in the history of humanity. You could be the first!
Downside: It's wet, and there are various sea creatures about. Plus, it takes forever to get that beach smell out of clothing.
So, you've touched down in London, and you need somewhere to stay.
According to our friends at Travelocity, the cheapest 17-night stay in a London hotel will cost you...
Total Cost: $4,811 ($283 a night)
Alternative No. 1: Hostel
Europe is all about hostels.
Big hostels. Little hostels. Hostile hostels.
A little digging on hostels.com brings us to the cheapest available hostel in London, a place called "Number 8 Hostel." At "Number 8 Hostel," you can stay in a "Deluxe" 26-bed mixed dorm for $55 a night.
And by "Deluxe," they probably mean, "like an Army barracks without the meticulous cleanliness or sense of purpose."
Alternative No. 2: Dorm room
European universities regularly house travelers over the summer. For $40 a night, you can stay at Ingleby House on the campus of St. George's University in South London. Amenities include common room, hall bathroom and something called an electric hob—I'm intrigued.
Tickets (Part 1): The High Life
Below are the listed ticket prices for some of London's marquee events, complete with reasons why you should and shouldn't spend your life's fortune on a seat.
Track and Field
100-meter men's final (among others): $80-$1,166
Pro: The most exciting 10 seconds in sport.
Con: Lasts all of 10 seconds.
Women's medal matches: $152-$724
Pro: Sand will remind you that, assuming temps are in the mid-60s and there's a total absence of sun, it is in fact summer.
Con: Perhaps the most voyeuristic sport on the planet.
Men's final: $152-$724
Pro: The U.S. will steamroll its opposition.
Con: The U.S. will steamroll its opposition.
Men's 10-meter platform final: $80-$724
Pro: Power, grace, risk-taking, suspense.
Women's All-Around final: $80-$724
Pro: A young woman will live her dream.
Con: Multiple young women will have their dreams crushed.
Team pursuit: $80-$522
Pro: Funny-shaped helmets.
Con: Oppressively repetitive.
Opening ceremony: $32-$3,237
Pro: Supposedly historic.
Con: Long spells of interpretative dance, interrupted by incessant flag-carrying. I came here to see athletes run, not walk.
Closing ceremony: $32-$2,413
Pro: It's always good to have closure.
Con: Seventy-five percent chance "Closing Time" by Semisonic gets stuck in your head.
Tickets (Part 2): Cheap Seats
If you're just interested in a little taste of the Olympic spirit, almost every discipline has some seats available for the generic basement price of $32.
Even major draws like track and swimming will run you just $32—provided you're willing to watch preliminary races from the nosebleed section.
But if want the finals drama without the big-ticket prices, perhaps you're fit for the following events.
Individual quarterfinals, semifinals and finals: $48-$152
Pro: If it was good enough for Robin Hood, it's good enough for you.
Con: Ever-present fear that competitors might decide to hunt spectators for sport.
Four finals on Aug. 11: $56-$152
Pro: You can tell that story about how you spent an entire summer carving your own canoe, relaying the sense of accomplishment and wholeness you felt upon completion.
Con: No one likes your stories.
Men's and women's semifinals and finals: $32-$201
Pro: Totally rad.
Con: Sneaking suspicion that you're in a Mountain Dew: Code Red commercial.
Road Race Cycling
Men's road race: $32-$96
Pro: Tests the very limits of men's tolerance for chafing.
Con: Not as interesting as Road Rage cycling.
Women's 470 medal race: $88 general admission
Con: Just fire up the engine already—we've been out here for, like, two hours.
Men's event: $120 general admission
Pro: Sounds sophisticated.
Con: Admit it, you have no idea what this is.
Women's event: $32-$96
Pro: Good things come in threes.
Con: By name alone, the least ambitious of the summer-based "athlons."
To navigate this bustling metropolis, you'll likely use London's subway system.
Natives call it "The Tube," and it's as ominous as it sounds.
There are about a dozen distinct lines, and they all take you to a place called "Acton." However, it's never the "Acton" you were trying to get to, and why doesn't anyone here speak real English? And...
Calm down. You can do this.
First step is to buy something called an "Oyster Card." This plastic swipe-able links to your checking account and allows you to take limitless subway trips without thinking about how much money you're spending.
It does not entitle you to oysters. Or pearls. Or even a Long John Silver's variety platter.
The alternative is to buy a weekly pass that will run you between $50 and $70 depending on how far you're staying from the center of town.
Add It All Up
Bottom line, what's this 17-day stay in London going to run you?
Lodging (hostel): $1,000
Tickets (say you go to seven events at an average of $200 per event): $1,400
Food ($40 per diem, make it work): $680
Grand Total: $3,480
And if you want to stay in a decent hotel?
Grand Total: $8,280
And if you want some really sweet tickets to a couple of premier events?
Grand Total: $9,000
And if you want to take the whole family...