Believe it or not, football season is almost back! And for NFL fans, every football Sunday is like Christmas morning, especially if you’re lucky enough to score some tickets to the game. A vital thing to note is that an NFL game is a two-part experience: firstly, the tailgate. Secondly, the game. Both are equally important, but the tailgate definitely requires more planning. With the Bus.com New England Patriots rideshare partnership, Pats fans can get the ultimate game day experience from the pickup downtown Boston to the tailgate to the game itself to the ride back home. Here’s what you need to know before you join us.

The difference between tailgating in a car and tailgating on a shuttle bus

If you’ve ever tailgated at a football game, you already know that the bigger the vehicle, the better. The more storage space, the better. And the more people that can arrive together, the better. Plus, if you can avoid making anyone get behind the wheel of their own vehicle (especially once a few beers have been thrown back), you’re already ahead of the game.

What to pack

The beauty of arriving to a football game — and in particular, the tailgate — by bus, is the storage space you can use to carry the items you need. Coach buses in particular conveniently feature enough undercarriage space for all your stuff. A proper tailgate requires some packing, including a tent to mark your spot and provide some shade. You’ll also probably want a portable barbecue or two to grill your eats, some coolers for the adult beverages, and some chairs, tables, and lawn games for your ultimate pregame setup. When you head to an NFL game, the tailgate is as much a part of the experience as the game — so come prepared!

Packing tips for an NFL football game.

Make a tailgate team

Football is a team sport — and so is tailgating! Combine forces with your bus mates to cover all your bases for the pregame party. Before the big game, you could make a list to assign tasks and items for each person to bring. For example, one person brings a portable barbecue for the group, one person brings games, and others take care of the food and drink situation. That way you won’t double up on anything, and you’ll minimize each person’s preparations. Plus, tailgate parties are designed to share everything, with your tailgate teammates and with your parking lot neighbours. Spread the love with everyone around you (as long as they’re wearing the right jersey) and they’ll reciprocate.

Get decked out

You’ve made all the preparations, now you just have to look the part. Acceptable attire at a Pats game includes: a Patriots home jersey, a Patriots away jersey, a Patriots throwback jersey… and that’s all! No, but seriously, you’ve got to show up decked out in Pats blue. A shirt, a hat, a jacket — anything will do. If you’re wearing a jersey, you could go with classic staples, like Tom Brady’s number 12 or Julian Edelman’s number 11. Or, you could really impress the diehards and throw it way back with Andre Tippett’s number 56 or Ty Law’s number 24, for example. Just remember, football season runs through the fall and temperatures can drop pretty significantly come nightfall. Make sure to bundle up under your jersey and be prepared for all kinds of weather.

Football fan's guide to Patriots games.

What to eat

Burgers and hot dogs might be the easiest thing to grill and eat in a parking lot, but that won’t earn you any tailgate respect. Go for something a little more elaborate (and delicious), like carefully marinated steak tips, mini beef sliders, or a layered nacho dip. Flex your muscles with breakfast burritos (the tailgate starts early!) or homemade Bloody Marys (okay, not that early!). Or pay homage to the New England area with a warm clam chowder, a filling meal for a long day – and especially appreciated if it’s chilly out.

Stay hydrated

One of our tailgaters’ favourite things about the Bus.com football rideshare is that you can drink on the bus, getting the tailgate started early. But that also means you need to be extra careful about staying hydrated. Bring your beers on board, but bring lots of water, too. We strongly recommend bringing a reusable water bottle that you can fill along the way.

Music selection

Every tailgate party needs some music. So what’s considered good football music? That depends on your group, but it definitely needs to be energetic enough to get you fired up for the game. We suggest filling the playlist with some local artists like Aerosmith and Boston, and you won’t have any trouble making friends by playing Dropkick Murphys on loop. Throw This is Our House by Bon Jovi on your playlist — that’s the Pats touchdown song you’ll be hearing all day long.

Football fan guide to preparing for an NFL game.

Be prepared for any kind of weather

When you go to an NFL game, you’re pretty much committing to a seven-hour day. For a 1PM game, the tailgate might start at 10AM or earlier. The final buzzer will sound just after 4PM, and by the time you get back to the parking lot, you’ll have spent the equivalent of a full workday outdoors. The football season runs from September through December, meaning weather is ever-changing from game to game. An early season game might benefit from Boston’s beautiful late summer and early fall weather. For those games, bring sunscreen to protect your skin during what is sure to be a long day out in the sun. But come November and December, temperatures will drop and you’ll want to bundle up. Wear a second pair of socks, bring earmuffs and gloves, and bring a blanket to wear during the game.

Clean up after yourselves

Tailgates are fun, but they’re also messy. Think about all the food and drinks you’ll be bringing and consuming. You’re going to have to dispose of them somehow! It’s important to be respectful of your surroundings and your fellow tailgaters, so do the right thing and clean up after yourselves. Bring some trash bags so you can leave your tailgate spot exactly as it was when you got there. Remember, everyone’s there for the same reason: to have a good time and cheer on the Pats. Keep it clean so everyone can have a good time.

Rent your own bus for your large group

Booking a bus for your travelling group of football fans is not only a blast on game day, keeping your whole gang in one vehicle, it’s the easiest and most affordable way to get to and from the game, or any event for that matter. A charter bus offers some perks that no other form of transportation can. First off, all that undercarriage storage can handle even the most prepared tailgaters. And since we let you drink on the bus, the tailgate starts early. Pro tip: Choose a bus with a bathroom on board to avoid making constant stops as the drinks (and waters!) flow. Not sure which bus suits your group best? Consult our Quick Guide to get started.

Shuttle buses to NFL New England Patriots games.

Bus wrapping for group charters to Patriot games (or any other team games)

You might have the rowdiest crowd, the coldest beer, and the tastiest snacks, but to truly win the tailgate, you’ve got to do one more thing: wrap your bus in team colours. Bus wrapping is like branding your bus with a massive wallpaper. You can design it basically any way you like — get inspired here — and that can include a Patriots logo, a life-size image of Tom Brady, or whatever you can dream up. Whatever you do, let Bus.com’s expert partners print and install your bus wrap so you can go undefeated for your upcoming tailgate.

Final word

Since 2017, our team has operated a Pats fan-friendly shuttle service from downtown Boston to Gillette Stadium. Our shuttles are more than just a mode of transportation — they’re a fan rally on wheels, a moving tailgate, and a safe way to get in and out of the stadium. Now that the Pats are the defending champs, we’re back to deliver Pats fans to the game once again, from the banner raising ceremony all the way to another playoff run.