Dedicated 49ers fans spend big to catch road playoff game against Packers

The San Francisco 49ers will face the Green Bay Packers Saturday evening in the NFC divisional playoff round.

As the No. 6 seed in the playoffs, the 49ers were unlikely to have a playoff game at home, which means fans hoping to stay faithful to the Bay would have to spend a pretty penny.

Ross Van Praag is a lifetime 49er fan. He paid to see the wildcard matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.

"I hate the Cowboys more than any team in the league," said Van Praag.

He said seeing the game winning plays in person was worth every dollar spent. For that trip, he paid $625 for his roundtrip flight, $200 for an Airbnb, and about $450 for tickets to the game.

Van Praag bought airline tickets to Green Bay that very night, but family members who accompanied him to Dallas didn't love the idea of paying another hefty price tag for another weekend.

"Once they get to know who we're playing, they jack up the price a little bit," he said.

Gabe Saglie, a travel editor for Travelzoo, said that's exactly how airlines tend to operate. If there is a high profile event in a city such as a playoff game or the Super Bowl, expect to see prices shoot up. It's similar to what people would see during the holidays. The rate of increase, however, would be higher for a smaller city like Green Bay, rather than a larger city like Dallas.

"There's just generally more competition to play with when it comes to a city like Dallas," said Saglie. "Although prices will spike on a high profile day, like a playoff game, those prices won't be as inflated as in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where you have fewer flights and some cases airlines aren't flying into Green Bay specifically."

Whatever the rate of increase, some fans, like Troy Halter, are willing to go for it.

"I've never been to an away 49er playoff game," he said. "This will be my very first one, so it's worth every penny."

Halter is driving to Green Bay from Minneapolis, Minnesota. With tickets included, he's budgeted about $800. To cut down on some expenses, he's driving to Lambeau Field in the morning and driving home after the game.

"The hotels are booked," he said. "You can't find anything, unless you're going to pay a premium price." 

In most cases with playoff games, people can only plan to travel about a week in advance, almost guaranteeing your wallets will want to throw a flag.

"If you're an avid fan, you're going to find a way to justify the cost and find a way to make the cost work for you," said Saglie.

For anyone on the fence about going to an away playoff game in the future, the experienced fans say always try to over budget.

"Just make sure you count in all the cost for food, Uber, rental cars," said Van Praag. "That stuff adds up quick."

To save a chunk of cash, Saglie suggests booking a return flight on a Tuesday or Wednesday, instead of a Sunday or Monday.

At almost every away game, standing room only tickets, or SROs, are usually available and the least expensive, around $150 each.

When it comes to hotels, book as early as possible. With COVID protocols in place, hotels and rental properties tend to be more flexible on penalties in the event a renter needs to cancel.