GOLD MEDAL PLAN
How to Score Tickets to the 2012 Summer Olympics
All the inside tips you need to snap up affordable event tickets, book a well-chosen place to stay, and make your way around the host city.
Finally, to disperse crowds, many events will take place outside of the confines of the Olympic Park, which is in Stratford, East London, about six miles east of Buckingham Palace. Wembley Stadium, in Northwest London, for instance, will host many of the soccer events, while Earls Court will host volleyball competitions. Not only does this strategy help to control traffic, but it'll also give spectators the chance to explore different parts of London. After all, the Olympics may be the main draw, but the host city's got a lot to offer, too.
What's your best advice for booking a hotel?
Most of the Games will be held in greater London. The International Olympics Committee has reportedly called dibs on 40,000 of the city's 120,000 hotel rooms, so rooms will likely be scarce.
That said, it's best to start searching for hotels as soon as possible. Your favorite online travel agency may not be set up to accept reservations that far in the future, so you should contact hotel chains directly once you have your confirmed tickets; by calling directly, you will be able to make reservations at many hotels.
Buying a hotel package will typically be easier, though more expensive, than booking lodging on your own. For Americans, the broadest inventory for packages is offered by Cartan Tours (800/818-1998). Packages are already available for booking and include accommodations, breakfasts, public transportation, and other services. There are seven-day packages, from $4,395 per person, and 10-day packages, from $6,095 per person.
You can cut your costs by staying outside of the pricey downtown in a neighborhood linked by public transportation—which you can ride for free on the day of your ticketed event with your complimentary Games Travelcard. Consider finding a hotel, an inn, a B&B, or an apartment in a suburb such as Wimbledon or Wembley, which are near Olympic venues. For a greater list of serviced suburbs, check London's official public transport site.
The least expensive option is to skip London altogether and instead visit a cohost city that isn't drawing as many visitors, such as Manchester (for soccer matches); Hadleigh Farm, Essex (for mountain biking); and Weymouth and Portland, Dorset (for sailing).
At generally cheaper rates than hotels, some private homes will be offered for rent through traditional travel agents, while others will be rented out via online sites like Homeaway and VBRO (before you book, check out our guide to vacation rentals).
I have my tickets and my hotel. Now what about booking a flight?
Most airlines generally release ticket availability about 330 days in advance of departure, so set your calendar to book a seat in summer 2011. The early bird will likely get the best fares.
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