Budgeting the Brazil World Cup

(AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
(AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

For a few weeks in early April 2014, my brother and I toyed with the idea of traveling to Brazil in June to attend our first World Cup. With opening ceremonies only two months away, the probability of actually going didn’t seem likely.

FIFA distributes World Cup tickets in three separate sales phases between August 2013 through July 2014. The first and second sales phases (August 2013 – November 2013) and (December 2013 – April 2014) were two-fold; a random selection draw period, and thereafter on a first-come, first-serve basis. The first-come, first-serve periods can be compared to a global scramble in an online box office. All one can do is click the “purchase” box and hope to be lucky enough to see the “match selection” page load on the screen.

The final sales phase began at 4 a.m. PST on April 15, 2014, in a pure first-come first-serve format. Finding a ticket to a U.S. match after that would likely require going through a third party rather than directly through FIFA. So on a whim of spontaneity, when I went to bed April 14, I set my alarm to 3:45 a.m.

Long story short . . . I got lucky, and in less than a month I’ll be attending the first three U.S. World Cup matches in the Brazilian cities of Natal, Manaus and Recife.

It wasn’t easy, and it won’t be cheap; but I’m not overly ambitious about traveling to Russia in 2018, and I believe it was the great wisdom of MasterCard commercials which taught us that some life experiences take “priceless” precedent over certain financial concerns.

Single Game Tickets: ($270)

Tickets are organized into three category tiers for each of the first-round matches, ranging from $90 (Category 3), to $135 (Category 2), and $175 (Category 1). Personally, I’m just as content in the nosebleeds as I am on the field level. So three category 3 tickets and $270 later, I’m primed to see the U.S. team take on Ghana, Germany and Portugal.

Travel: ($2,531)

That’s $1,500 for a direct round-trip ticket to Brazil, plus about $1,000 for flights from city to city while in Brazil. A big factor in saving expenses on domestic flights is the travel date in which you choose to transfer host cities. Especially since those who planned their trips long in advance purchased their plane tickets on the most practical dates to travel with the team they are following.

After flying into Sao Paulo for the opening ceremonies, I’ll travel northeast by bus (approximately four hours) to Rio de Janeiro the next day and catch a domestic flight to Natal ($198). The trip across country from Natal to Manaus ($211) is best made by flight, since the alternative is an on-ground trudge through hundreds of miles in the Amazon. The same goes for the flight out of Manaus ($400) to the coastal city of Recife. And finally, tack on another ($220) to get back to Rio and fly home.

(It should be noted also that generally, applying and acquiring a visa to enter Brazil costs $150 , but if you present evidence of a World Cup ticket with your application, the fee will be waived)

Distance between Brazilian cities can serve as a challenge for fans attending World Cup matches

Boarding: ($1,500; $75 per night, 20 days)

I assumed finding a place to stay would be the most difficult part of my late reservation to attend this event. While there was certainly a shortage of options, I was surprised to find accommodations in reasonable form and price for each city I was visiting. I’m not saying I’m staying in the nicest hotels Brazil has to offer, but I do have a bed to sleep in for three weeks.

Traveling to South America to watch the US team potentially shock the world and escape the “group of death” in the 2014 World Cup: (PRICELESS)

Well, technically, like $4,500; plus food and all other expenses in between.

But still.

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