As Badger fans eye potential Rose Bowl bid, travel expert recommends planning trip now

As the Badger football team prepares to take on Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game Saturday, some sports analysts are already predicting that the team will head to the Rose Bowl for the first time in seven years.

With the chance to leave snowy Wisconsin for sunny California, it’s tempting to want to follow along.

“Potential Rose Bowl is, like, the only thing on my mind,” University of Wisconsin-Madison senior Sadie Hersh said.

A big win over Minnesota on Saturday has the trip to Pasadena feeling closer than ever.

“It was exciting,” Badger fan Brandon Singleton said. “It was slow at the beginning, but they tore them up at the end.”

“I was doing my laundry, had it on, of course,” said Chloe Wigul, Hersh’s friend and fellow senior.

“I was in the airport watching my phone, making sure to stay up to date,” Hersh said. “Every year, I’m like, ‘This is our year, this is our year.’ I think we might have a good chance this year.”

It’s a chance for the Badgers to play in Hersh and Wigul’s home state, where they will be already for winter break.

“What a switch. We come here for them to come to us our last year, so that would be pretty cool,” Wigul said.

“We’ll definitely be there,” Hersh said.

For those who would need to make travel plans to see the Badgers play if selected, travel editor Christopher Parr said time is of the essence.

“This is time to book your flights and your hotel rooms,” Parr said. A total of “90,000 football fans will go to Pasadena, so that means filled airports, airlines, hotels and streets.”

He said hotel rooms near the stadium are already filling up or are double to triple the standard cost of about $200.

Parr added that Google Flights and are helpful comparison tools when researching a trip. He recommends avoiding package deal sites, which he said often overbook.

“Lots of times, you get bumped or lose your room,” Parr said.

Instead, he advises booking directly with hotels and airlines, pointing to direct flights from Madison.

“Tickets are currently $600 to $800 roundtrip, which is a great rate,” Parr said, adding that he thinks it’s best to avoid O’Hare in Chicago because of delayed and canceled flights. “If you are trying to get a connecting flight, instead go through Minneapolis or Denver.”

In most cases, Parr said, there’s no need to book travel insurance, calling it an unnecessary up sell, since many credit cards cover travel insurance. However, booking travel insurance with an airline can be helpful if there’s a chance you’ll want to cancel your flight.

In total, Parr estimates the trip could cost $2,000 to $3,000 — perhaps worth it for Badger fans hoping to see the team’s first Rose Bowl win in 20 years.

“It’s a great experience,” he said. “Once in a lifetime.”

“(It would) take me back to my childhood, of course,” Singleton said. “I remember enjoying a Rose Bowl sweater that I got when I was young. I’d like to see another one as an adult.”

Whether they’re in Wisconsin or California, the message from Badger fans stays the same.

“Go Badgers!” Singleton said.

“Go Badgers!” Wigul and Hersh said. “On Wisconsin.”

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