Pre-trip jitters: Five things that concern me before I hit the road

Okay, I’ve got about 21 hours before embarking on that Virgin Atlantic flight to Miami. It’s just dawned on me that I’m really doing this. First leg; 10 cities in just under three weeks. Holy crap.

Well, here are a few issues that I suddenly can’t stop thinking about…

1- Will it be a pain in the ass getting into to all these games?

I’m telling myself I’m good at this. For years I’ve been wrangling my way into games at a discount and have very rarely been foiled. But there are times – rare occasions – when demand just completely outstrips supply. And then I’ll be struggling.

Will that happen on this trip? Almost certainly, and I can point to a few games where it’ll be likely. The key is how I’m going to respond. This will likely require my full arsenal of tactics to get in while not paying through the nose.

Here are the upcoming games that have me worried:

Jan 31 – Cleveland at Miami

The anti Lebrons vs the Lebrons. The jilted lovers vs. the new brides. The attraction to attend this game with its back-story is obvious, but then again the Cavs are so horrible, losing 18 in a row (yeah, really, 18. The record is 23 in case you’re wondering) that the game itself will provide no drama at all.  So, in theory, I should be able to buy a decent ticket at a fraction of face value.

Feb 3 – Miami at Orlando

Big interstate rivalry between two teams that ‘just plain don’t like each other.’ Orlando is a small city with only one pro sports team, so this is all anyone’s going to be talking about that day. Could be a major bump in the road for me, especially if both Lebron and D-Wade are healthy.

Feb 5 – LA Lakers at New Orleans and

Feb 7 – LA Lakers at Memphis

Anytime the Lakers are in town it’s a big-ticket event. Combine that with the fact that they are the current two-time defending champs and that the two host cities are small market towns, and you’ve got a big supply/demand shift. Again, big challenge.

 2 – How much is this trip going to cost?

This is definitely a case of putting the cart before the horse. I think that’s how the saying goes. In other words, I was so overtaken by the concept that I never thought much about costs. But now I am.

Suffice to say I’m working on a budget, so staying at the Four Seasons is not in the cards. Aside from Miami and New Orleans, I’m probably staying at bunch of Days Inns.  Hey, can’t beat that free wi-fi and breakfast.

As far as my ticket budget goes, ironically I’ve managed to scoop $1000 for my pair of Arsenal seats to the three matches I’m going to miss (the huge Arsenal–Barcelona matchup being one of them). If I chop that up, I’ve got an average of $100 per game to play with.

Granted that is still less than most arenas charge for a bottom tier seat, but that is my challenge. Jeepers, for a hundred bucks, a paying fan should be able to watch a game from a clear vantage point. I’m not saying I expect to be brushing up against Kim Kardashian, but I shouldn’t be sitting behind the cast of The Jersey Shore either. 

3-  Will ten domestic flights spell doom?

More to the point, will they get me where I need to be on time? I’m arriving in certain cities with a few hours to spare ‘till game time. If a flight is delayed three hours, it could destroy my schedule.

Traveling solo and on a tight agenda, driving from city to city was never in the cards. So I’m relying on Delta, AA and Continental to get me where I need to be in a reasonable amount of time. I’m not even going to talk about airport security and TSA… Lets see how that goes.

There’s also the small matter of weather and the fact that I need to be ready for both Miami heat (literally) and Salt Lake City snow.  It slipped my mind that I was visiting Denver and Utah in February. I thought this was going to be a leisurely jaunt through the South. I checked the forecast in SLC today: freezing with sleet showers. Now I have no idea how to pack.

Can you say no to one of these at 2am?

4-  Can I stay reasonably healthy relying on arena food? 

No, of course I can’t. But I’m sure I’ll be having a beer or two at every game. And then what does one do in a new city when you don’t know anyone?  You hit a bar, of course. You have dinner and start talking sports with the people to your left and right. It’s a recipe for coronary failure.

So I’m planning to take my running shoes and yoga matt and see if I can keep somewhat active. Did I mention I was going to New Orleans and Memphis? Have you seen what people eat there? On the one hand I can’t wait to sink my teeth into my first Po’boy. On the other hand, all those dialysis centers in the South are there for a reason.

5-  Will spending great swaths of time alone drive me nuts?

We’re not talking James Franco in 127 hours, but I’ll be singing to myself for a fair amount of time. So to stay engaged, I’m going to be doing a lot of tweeting and blogging from the road.  Watch this space and please keep the feedback comin’. And, hey, thanks for checking in!

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