Why The Olympics Are The Ultimate Travel Destination

Can you feel it? It’s in the air and everywhere you look. No, I’m not talking about the polar vortex or the snow (and ice) that has blanketed much of the country. I’m talking about that once-every-four-years global celebration of sub-zero-temperature athletics. That’s right…it’s almost time for the Winter Olympic Games!

The XXII Winter Olympics in Sochi are just a few days away, and you can feel the excitement building. Athletes and journalists are boarding planes bound for Russia, fashionistas are critiquing the Ralph Lauren-designed official US Olympic apparel (what do you think of those sweaters?!) and we’re all eagerly anticipating the opening ceremonies and the events to follow.

Now, I’m not someone who really follows sports. I don’t care about playoffs or home teams or big games, and my favorite part of Super Bowl Sunday is the Animal Planet Puppy Bowl. But the Olympics are something altogether different. Maybe it’s the human interest stories, or the fact that most of the athletes are amateurs who’ve dedicated their lives to excelling in obscure sports that we only remember exist every four years (shout out to curling). Or maybe it’s the fact that the entire world is focused on one place, cheering for their teams and watching, hoping, to hear their national anthem played for the world’s ears. Whatever the reason, I find myself getting sucked in every time.

I have to admit, part of my fascination with the Games centers around seeing the host city. I love the gorgeous helicopter shots and exotic scenery that comes from Olympic host spots like Beijing, Athens, Sydney and Lillehammer. I love hearing about places like Sochi, places that aren’t necessarily on the covers of magazines and at the top of every travel blogger’s must-see list.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that a trip to the Olympic Games would be the ultimate experience for any traveler. Think about it; the Olympics are a gathering place for the global community and a celebration of what we all have in common. It’s a convergence of languages and cultures and a global celebration unrivaled by any other event. Nothing else, not the Super Bowl or the World Series or the World Cup, has the same impact as those two weeks every two years when the world stops and watches and passes the Olympic torch, whether it’s in the sweltering summer heat or the frigid winter air.

Now it’s time to consider a very important question: which is better, summer or winter? I love both equally. I am an equal opportunity viewer, cheering on the gymnasts and sprinters in the summer games as much as the figure skaters and skiers of the winter games. But I know quite a few folks who have a distinct preference. If I had to choose, my choice would probably hinge on the venue (like lots of other things in my life, it’s all about location, location, location). I’m just glad I don’t have to choose, and I can pull on my tee shirt from the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs and cheer on all the athletes, in every season.

What’s your favorite Olympic Games, summer or winter?

Find me on Twitter @StephSpitler

Featured Image via Shutterstock

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