Here are 5 steps to expanding your paintball travels.
Most paintball players start playing at their local field or renegade piece of property. After you have played the same field several times, you might want to try a new place or even consider taking a weekend trip to a faraway land. The average player will travel up to about two hours to play a local event. This article is going to talk about how to plan to attend an event that you fly to. Travel and gear restrictions are serious but if you plan properly, traveling with your gear can be a breeze.
Step 1. Find a game you want to go to. This is the easy part. There are games everywhere and throughout the entire year. Decide what type of experience you are looking for. Is this a hard-core mil sim trip, or possibly a paintball vacation with buddies? There are lots of groups on Facebook that can recommend events, but you really should have an idea of what you are looking for. Think about these things before posting in a group.
- How big of a game are you looking for? 300-500? 1000? 4000?
- How far are you willing to travel? Across the country? Or International?
- What is your budget?
- Bringing friends or going solo?
- Camping or Hotel?Sightseeing or just Paintball?
Step 2. Contact locals for more information. Now that you know where you are going, you are going to want to talk to people who have played the event before. Some events are great at incorporating new people and some events can be clique-ish. Many of the big games have groups on Facebook for the players to plot, plan and get to know each other. Join the group and get involved. If you like running missions or role playing this is a must.
Many of these commanders won’t assign missions or roles to people they don’t know. You also might find a team to run with or people to camp with. These groups can be extremely helpful. I got stuck at Chicago O’Hare a couple years back for Living Legends and I jumped on the group chat and asked if anybody had room in their car for one more guy. Twenty minutes later I was jammed into a rental van with guys I had never met and are now some of my closest friends.
Step 3. Make your reservations. Flights, hotels and car reservations can easily be made online using any number of different websites. I frequently use Kayak.com Expedia.com, Priceline.com. I prefer to get a rental car when I can so that I can be on my own schedule. Some rental car companies have different rules regarding age, debit or credit card usage, extra fees etc. Read the fine print. With flights make sure to have a minimum of 45 minutes between flights, any less and you can run into lots of problems. I have had several issues in the last two years including sleeping on the floor of the terminal and canceling the last leg and renting a car with strangers and driving 6 hours home. Check the fine print on baggage fees and weights.
Step 4. TSA and Airline restrictions on gear. The link provided will get you to the right area to read up on your own. For starters, your paintball markers and air systems must be in your checked bag. In addition, you must remove the regulator/valve from your tank completely. They want to be able to see inside the tank. I recommend having a pro shop remove it the first time as many regulators are installed with loc-tite. If you are traveling out of the country, you need to verify that they marker you are wanting to bring is allowed in the country where you are going. Last September I attended an event in Australia at Hunter Valley Paintball Park. Australia has some restrictive laws concerning paintball markers and many areas consider them firearms. So instead of taking the chance of my marker getting confiscated with possible heavy fines or worse, I opted to rent/borrow a marker from the field. Some European countries also have different requirements. Some guys ship some of their gear to the fields instead of flying with it. Make sure you check before you go. https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/items/compressed-air-guns
Step 5. Have fun. These events are full of awesome people, new adventures in food and culture. Take advantage of being in a new place and leave some extra time to check out the surroundings. Many of my trips to events are to work the event and I also usually get to play. The downside is that usually I am trying to go from the event on Sunday afternoon to the airport and fly home, so I can be at work on Monday. If you can fit an extra day in, you should do it. I have been to events in Orlando Florida probably 6 or 7 times, most of the time they were at Disney World wide world of sports for World Cup, but I never stayed an extra day to hit up the theme park. I didn’t make that mistake when I went to Australia.
I got to spend a day with my new Australian friends on the coast, and even got to visit a zoo to check out koala’s, Kangaroos and lots of other native Australian animals.
It was super cool. Whether you are flying or riding a big neon green bus halfway across the country, I bet you will find that you will have as much or more fun during the travel as you do at the event. Once you get out of your local area for a game, you will find that its not that difficult and it adds a whole new layer of fun to paintball. Some of my favorite people I see a couple times a year at different places all over the country.