Since 1996, when Ravens fans were getting ready to make a road trip with the team, their checklists might have looked a little like this:
- Vinny Testaverde jersey? Check.
- Purple wig, purple face paint, purple and gold beads? Check.
- Throat lozenges, to soothe the effects of yelling down 65,000 home fans in enemy territory? Check.
- Tickets bought on StubHub or TicketsNow or through the NFL Ticket Exchange? Check.
Never had that list included a passport. But it will next season.
Brian Snyder is the owner of one of a handful of road trip planning companies that want to help you get to the Ravens-Jaguars game at Wembley Stadium in London Sept. 24. It's the first time the Ravens will be playing overseas. The NFL has been playing regular-season games in London since 2007.
Snyder said his company, BMORE Around Town, received $250 deposits from about 600 fans, as of the beginning of February, about 50 percent of his capacity.
"I think that's a great start," Snyder said. "We're definitely progressing a lot better than I expected.
"Ravens fans travel well. I think London is going to be shocked with the number of them that travel over there for this game."
BMORE Around Town is offering six-night and four-night trips, with and without airfare. The week-long option with airfare runs about $3,200 per person, double occupancy; the four-night option runs about $2,800.
Prime Sport, the Ravens' "official" travel partner, has "ultimate," "premium" and "deluxe" air and land packages listed on its website for between $3,240 and $4,065 per person, double occupancy for four nights.
And there are other options, some cheaper, some pricier.
Snyder's company, like all of the other firms that run NFL fan road trips, puts a big effort into making the junkets about more than the football game.
For example, BMORE Around Town's trips include guided tours of London, a "Purple Pub Crawl," a riverboat trip on the Thames and a tailgate. Prime Sport, the Ravens' partner, includes a game-day brunch that will be hosted by an as-yet unnamed "Ravens legend."
"These trips aren't just about the game," Snyder said. "They're about making new friends, exploring new cities. We always try to add in a twist with what the city has to offer, so they can enjoy the actual city versus just going to the game. So it's more of a vacation at the end of the day. It's not just going to a football game, it's more of a weekend getaway.
"This is kind of nice that it gives people a reason to go over to London. So many people on the trip have never been."
Organizing NFL fan road trips has become big business. Snyder, 32, said he has been doing Ravens trips since 2010.
"I have a degree in accounting, and I was sitting around one day, playing with ideas about what I could do myself that would be fun," he said. "I was already doing these trips with groups of friends -- 20-25 people. Then I asked myself, ‘Why don't I offer it out to everyone else and see where it goes?' We just took it and ran with it."
Snyder said the biggest trip he's run was to Dallas, when he brought 2,000 Ravens fans to Jerry Jones' AT&T Stadium last season.
And he said his most memorable trip was to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, when the Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers.
"That was one of the ultimate life experiences, not just for me, but for anybody who went on that trip," he said.
"We chartered a [162-seat] plane, we leased a riverboat that had 78 rooms on it, and everyone stayed on the riverboat for the whole weekend," he said, adding the boat was docked right outside the Ravens' team hotel.
In addition to Dallas, Snyder said trips to warm-weather cities, like Miami or Phoenix, or to cities with big-time party reputations, like New Orleans or San Francisco, are popular.
And for the 2017 season, he expects the Ravens' trips to Nashville, Tenn., and to iconic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., to be BMORE Around Town's biggest.
"We have so many people on our trips who make it an annual thing with their sons or their daughters," Snyder said. "I have so many dads who have daughters who love going to these away games.
"It's enjoyable to see how football kind of brings them together. You think of a father-daughter trip. What else could they possibly do to go away together to have bonding time? Football is kind of the medium, which is neat to see."
Issue 230: February 2017