World Cup 2014

An American in Brazil: The USMNT fan's patriotic packing list for Natal, Manaus & Recife

Wiersema - gear

Photo Credit: 
Daniel Wiersema

AUSTIN, Texas -- "If it's not red, white, or blue... it's not going in the suitcase.”

Meet my wife everybody.

Anah held herself pretty accountable to that rule while I strayed just a little bit after some of my shorts were not of the American flag variety. Note I said “some”; there ARE several pairs of American flag shorts in my luggage.

Packing to watch the World Cup in Brazil for two weeks was a lot easier than I expected. I’ve done long trips abroad before where packing for all the possible weather permutations and every other thing but the kitchen sink was the bare minimum. But this wasn’t preparing for a week in the Canadian wilderness or living in one of the most dangerous countries on earth (Honduras, if you were wondering).

This was for beach life. Natal, for two weeks, with a day’s excursion to Manaus and Recife sprinkled in. To follow our national team, Anah’s patriotic declaration was proving to be pretty on point and leaving loads more room in our luggage that we first thought.

When traveling to a tropical country like Brazil there were two considerations we kept front and center in our mind: sun and rain. So we have plenty of items to deal with them, like USA sunscreen, USA toothpaste, USA toothbrush, USA bug spray, USA malaria pills…

You seeing a trend here?

Well, here are a few more musts for traveling to the World Cup:

1) Waldo hat. The national team may have adopted the world wanderer’s look as a shirt in 2012, but I’ve been repping my doppelganger since college. If you’re wondering, yes, it is hot, very hot, and yes, I will wear it to the games. So if you see it during some fan cutaway on ESPN, you'll know it's me.

2) Multiple US jerseys. Because being an American soccer fan has no off-days.

3) American Outlaws gear. I’ve been a member since 2008, the year after they were founded, and their shirts are some of the best gear, design and comfort-wise to wear when I’m not pulling a jersey over my Waldo hat. In case your wondering, yes, I put the hat on first.

4) Assorted other soccer shirts. Because why would I wear anything other than soccer shirts? Some of my favorite soccer brands include adidasLive Breathe Futbol and Bumpy Pitch.

5) Patriotic bottoms. Very important. I’ll be rocking the “bomb pop” and American-flag-themed shorts. Because red, white, and blue shouldn’t be reserved for just your top half.

6) Reading material:

  • Howler’s latest issue is the single most amazing and comprehensive World Cup preview I’ve seen; plus beautifully designed and well-written.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s auto-biography. Somehow this player needs to make it to Brazil even if it’s just in book form.
  • The 10 Shirt: How the United States National Soccer Team (might have) Won the 1982 World Cup. Hey, a boy can dream.
  • Party Brasil Phrasebook. Apparently there are all sorts of helpful phrases in Portuguese about the ref’s mother and/or how he’s a thief. Given the calls already in this World Cup -- except by the American! -- this book might be the most useful. And how to order multiple beers. Indispensible.
  • Instant City, a new book about Karachi, Pakistan, by National Public Radio’s Steve Inskeep. No, I’m not kidding. This is the book I’m actually looking forward to the most. What can I say: I'm a history teacher.

There you have it. The American fan’s super patriotic packing guide.

There’s a passport, visa, and tickets squished somewhere in there, too. I’ll find them before take off.