Tips for traveling to away football games
If you know anything about college football, then you know that college towns are some of America’s most special places. They hold decades-long traditions and overflow with charm and effervescent passion. Each place has a culture that is unique in its own way, yet not totally unlike the special feeling Auburn fans encounter in Jordan-Hare. Nothing beats the dreaded mid-semester slump or a boring weekend than traveling to watch our beloved team play at another school. I had the opportunity to travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas to watch our Tigers play the Razorbacks on Oct.16, 2021. Though my away-game experience is limited, I wanted to share my experience and offer a few tips for your next away game trip.
These games are an incredible excuse to travel and, if you are traveling with friends, it also acts as a great excuse to hang out for a whole weekend. There are few things better than cheering on the Tigers with all of your best Auburn friends, or even ones who attend the other school. I had the best of both worlds and was able to travel with a friend from Auburn and friends from other schools.
Aside from short-distance venues like Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge and Athens, Auburn fans will make up the extreme minority at most away games. There is a special bond that can be made between Auburn fans who are away from the Plains but are still spending time together. We talked to several Auburn families sitting around us, including the family of offensive lineman Nick Brahms. We bonded over the mediocre stadium food and the fact that the barbecue stand ran out of meat ten minutes before halftime (at their own homecoming game, but that is beside the point).
As a lifelong fan of college football, I expected hostility. Instead, we encountered several Arkansas fans who loved their team but also exhibited great sportsmanship throughout the game. The crowd stood up and cheered on every third down on defense (yes, every single third down), but also respectfully exited the stadium post-game after Auburn won 38-23. Not to be too petty, but winning in another team’s stadium was an incredible feeling.
As I mentioned, my away game experience is limited, but here are a few tips I wanted to share for those of you considering heading to an away game next year.
- Don’t be afraid to wear your orange and blue - just do it with restraint. Though we did not encounter much hostility in Razorback Stadium, this may not be the case at other schools. Show your Auburn spirit, but do so tastefully to avoid unpleasant encounters.
- Enjoy the company of other fans One of the best reasons to travel to away games is that you get the chance to meet other Auburn students and families. Sit with someone you did not already know and ask them about their connection to Auburn—you might just meet a new friend along the way.
- Arrange parking, hotels (if applicable) and ticket purchases well in advance This was something we got lucky with but likely should have coordinated ahead of time. We arrived early to find parking in the hills of Fayetteville’s campus but were met with standstill traffic that resulted in our group missing kickoff. We planned our hotel stay in Little Rock, but did not realize until after booking that Little Rock is two and a half hours away from Fayetteville. Moral of the story: plan logistics ahead of time so that you can enjoy your game day experience without the stress.
- Enjoy the journey as much as the destination Allow yourself (and your group) plenty of time to travel to and from the stadium. We left on a Friday after classes and came back that Sunday afternoon, meaning that we had plenty of time to explore Little Rock and even stop at the Bass Pro Pyramid in Memphis, Tenn. on the way home. Though the game day experience will be incredible without a doubt, allow yourself to enjoy the travel experience and explore new cultures and communities along the way.
While you can always see the Tigers play from the comfort of your home when they are away from Jordan-Hare, there is nothing like being there as it happens. Away games are incredibly special and should be experienced at least once in your college career. The trip was a lot of fun despite the distance, and I would recommend anyone make the trip to Fayetteville or any other college town for that matter. As for next year, I am personally eyeing trips to Tuscaloosa and Athens.