A tennis team enjoying a trip to Barcelona, organized by Navigo Sports Tours.
As we pull back the arrow in the bow, eager to launch ourselves out of isolation, many will have their eyes once again on travel. But what’s an easy and affordable option? Maybe you belong to a group of travel aficionados who are looking for a more personalized itinerary that caters to your specific interests. Maybe you’re a coach who’d love to engage your sports team with an educational and exciting group trip, but wouldn’t know where to start to make all those pieces come together.
Michael Green is ready to help.
Green, founder and president of Navigo Sports Tours, began his business in 2006, as a way to combine two of his greatest passions: sports and travel. His company – located in the historic Millyard District of Nashua, at 26 Technology Way – creates custom tours for local amateur sports teams: Youth clubs, high schoolers, and collegiate teams have all taken Navigo tours all over Europe and beyond. Navigo also arranges specialty group trips for adults, like winery tours in France.
From an early age, Green was encouraged to travel, having been to almost all 50 states before his 16th birthday. After graduation with his business degree from the University of New Hampshire, he worked for a time for the Kraft Sports Group (New England Patriots and Revolution) before moving to France (and later the Czech Republic), in part to play soccer.
Shown is Michael Green, founder and president
of Navigo Sports Tours in Nashua.
Navigo Sports Tours has arranged for teams of all ages to visit European and other locations around the globe. They also do specialized itineraries for other types of groups, like wine aficionados.
Now, he and his staff help other young people experience international travel by offering them a unique trip abroad with their team, and often, family as well.
“We are a tour operator that specializes in working with sports teams. Traditional travel agents sell products; we do our own sales as a niche market – youth level teams, high school, EU clubs, right through college,” Green said. “They get to meet and play international teams, but it’s more about team building and the educational component. They will play against foreign teams, but the trip is mostly about going as a team to explore another country.”
He explained that a lot of college athletes cannot do any study-abroad opportunities because of their commitment to the sport; these trips are a way for them to do that in a roundabout, and possibly even more fun, way.
Green said Navigo has arranged international tours for nearly any sports teams you can imagine: Soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball, lacrosse, tennis, golf… “We even had a water polo team that we took to Ireland,” he said.
Each trip is personalized, but in general, Navigo Sports Tours sets up three exhibition games plus practice space as part of an all-encompassing package for the team. In addition to scheduling and arranging all the details in advance, the company also provides an in-person tour host to accompany and ensure things go as planned. “We have our own dedicated travel team, about 12 seasonally, that go with the team to make sure everything works smoothly,” he said. “They run the trip and ensure the itinerary is followed – we take care of the hotel accommodations, breakfast and a three-course dinner, bus and other transportation, etc.” Time for special interests and exploration, and lunch on your own, is always built into the daily itinerary, for families and friends to truly experience the country being visited.
One of the best things about having Navigo in charge is that those who are usually sweating the details are also allowed to enjoy themselves. “The coach only worries about the team. We take care of everything else,” Green said. “You’re on vacation. The value-add [of Navigo Sports Tours] is the travel expertise and logistical know-how, to get everyone from point A to B. Especially in a foreign country. Everything is smooth and easy [for the attendees]. Language barriers are removed via your own concierge guide.”
Weeklong trips run anywhere from $2,500–$2,800 a person, and that includes airfare – an astonishing deal for a week in Europe with air and land transportation, most meals, lodging, sightseeing, exhibition games and practice coordination, a personal guide, and more.
Each trip is customizable, with the goals being ease, education, comfort and fun. Sometimes, Green gets unique requests that he’s happy to accommodate. “We get creative depending on what the groups want. For example, one group asked for a running tour of London! The team and guide ran through the streets, from attraction to attraction; then they stretched and listened to our tour guide’s info at each stop,” he said. Green said he even found one parent a yarn shop in Paris, for her knitting hobby.
Such a convenient and organized trip naturally entices parents to join their student athletes. “For so many families, they feel like this might be the only time in life they get to go do this kind of trip and experience this,” Green said. They try to accommodate all group sizes; a baseball or softball team might have 25 athletes, but also have 25-30 parents coming as well. “It only becomes more expensive if we need more than one bus,” he said. “Gas in Europe is $8 a gallon, and bus rentals are several thousand dollars a day. But we’ve done it. One year we had several teams wanting to attend the Women’s World Cup in France, and those groups together totalled 300 or 400 people we organized,” he said.
With much of Europe still closed to tourism due to the pandemic, Navigo has been exploring other options, currently looking at trips to Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and Costa Rica. Iceland and Greece are slated to reopen their tourism this month. Navigo is also scheduling out tours for this fall and next year in Europe, with optimism.
Navigo Sports Tours also does non-sports related trips as well. In September, they’ve arranged a lavish wine country tour in Bordeaux, in partnership with WineNot Boutique. The culinary wine (and cognac!) tour is offered Sept. 4–11. At presstime, there is still limited availability to join the tour.
“We’re going to wineries, upscale hotels, Michelin-star restaurants… It’s going to be incredible,” Green said. You can see more details here.
Most tours are planned out at least 6 months out; Navigo Sports Tours can also help teams with fundraising endeavors if needed. If you’re interested in hearing more, planning your own group tour, or updated travel requirements, contact Green.