I happened to be in Mykonos last week, right when the Champions League Final was taking place. Now, I’m not complaining. Getting to vacation in Greece is a privilege many people don’t have, and it has been one of the great travel experiences of my life. It’s an exceptionally beautiful area to spend any sort of time, though most especially with a partner to share your experiences with. And after a tough year at work, it’s the ideal place to go and unwind. However, as a lifelong Liverpool fan, I wasn’t going to let this admittedly wonderful vacation get in the way of my catching the big game.
My partner and friends did not understand how I could even consider taking time out of our trip to watch sports. It is, after all, something I can very easily do at home throughout the year and won’t it just detract from all the beauty that you’re surrounded by? They clearly aren’t sports fans, but I wasn’t exactly forcing them to watch or miss out on anything, so they begrudgingly agreed to let me spend a couple of hours in a sports bar.
This experience is not new to me. As a digital nomad, I travel all the time. I often must go to great lengths to watch important games. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s possible to travel without compromising on watching your team. There is, however, a slight catch. Geo-blocking is the result of certain companies who haven’t taken in just how small the world now is and have put measures in place to ensure that content is only available to people in the “right” countries. Even when those people who have fully paid their licenses happen to find them in other parts of the world. This can be a major pain, but there’s an easy way around it. Here’s how.
Get a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) has many important uses beyond just unlocking region-locked content while overseas. Most crucial is its protection against invasion of privacy and identity theft. It hides who and where you are and keeps your data from being viewed or stolen by hackers.
It does this in part by routing your connection through an external server. In doing so, it makes it seem like you are connecting from the location of that particular server. These servers also tend to have the latest and best security measures in place to protect your sensitive data. This is how a VPN helps you to safely and securely watch ESPN outside the US. Simply set your location to a server in the United States, and you’ll be able to stream as normal.
It’s all about you
Technical know-how is one thing, but this is only the beginning. Now that you have what you need to watch matches, you must figure out how to negotiate with those around you. This could be trickier than even setting up a VPN. If you’re traveling with people who aren’t sports fans, especially, they are not going to understand your obsession. They won’t get why you’re sitting in your hotel in front of your laptop rather than lying on the beach, exploring exotic new locations or indulging in fun activities that make the best of where you are. No matter what you say, they may nod their head in agreement or at least shrug their shoulders in general exasperation, but they will no doubt always think that you’re at least a bit nuts for wasting precious vacation time away from the actual vacation.
Fair is fair, though. If you don’t want to compromise on watching the game, you’re going to have to compromise on something else. This might mean you give your blessing to your friends to go somewhere without you, even if you really want to join them. Asking them to wait for you will only build resentment, and you’ll end up being that friend who is never invited on trips.
One handy trick is to decide on which games you’re willing to miss, and then compromise by missing those games. More importantly, your friends are right, footie games may seem like the world to you, but you don’t want to miss out on once in a lifetime experiences going on around you. Balance is crucial both for your friends, your partner, and yourself. This way, you seem reasonable while still getting what you want.
Schedule in advance
One final piece of advice: figure out in advance when games are happening during your trip. Take time zones into account and put them in your calendar. It’s all too easy to mix things up because your brain messes up the time zones.
Unfortunately, you’re probably going to have to watch at strange times (especially if you’re not traveling in the Americas). This can be tiring and lonely, but if you find a sports bar where expats watch all the games, it can be quite an experience.