If you’ve been living under a rock, or you’re not a US citizen, you can probably be excused if you’ve not heard of The Amazing Race. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a multi-award-winning reality TV series with travel and adventure at its core. Contestants are pitted against one another with a series of travel-based challenges in a bid to win $1,000,000.
Of course, getting on to the show in the first place is a tall order but if the idea of redefining your notion of luxury travel appeals, by de-emphasizing well-known creature comforts in favour of the luxury of the unknown, then take a look at a company striving to do just that – Competitours.
Competitours has been billed by some as “The Amazing Race for regular people” and is a team travel competition that features 11 pairs of teams competing to accomplish daily surprise challenges while on an 11-day mystery itinerary of Western Europe. It’s the brainchild of company President Steve Belkin – the destinations are unknown, but feature a mix of big cities, walkable villages, coastal hamlets and a jaunt through the mountains. The fact that the destinations and challenges come with just 24-36 hours notice each day merely adds to the excitement of the experience.
The challenges are also unknown but designed to test – within reason – your limits. Some are for groups, others for individuals. Regardless, they’ll bring out skills that you perhaps didn’t realise you had, whether you are being creative, resourceful or simply thinking outside the box. Don’t worry, though, this isn’t a test of your speed or fitness – it’s a level playing feed regardless of fitness or age. You’ll also perhaps learn a thing or two about yourself and your teammate in the process, not to mention have a fun, quirky and most importantly hands-on experience of local history, culture, food and handicrafts. What’s more, every trip has a mountain-based challenge activity as well as mind-bending scavenger hunts and labyrinths, and there’s even a grand prize of $6600 in cash up for grabs, split by the top 3 teams to keep your competitive juices flowing. The scoring for each challenge is typically based on a mix of objective and subjective criteria. In most instances, more than 90% of the teams are in the running for the top 3 spots until the last day, for maximum suspense… victory is certainly not a foregone conclusion!
Your fellow competitors might be your rivals during the day, but you’ll also get to revel with them in the evening. Competitours is a social experience with many teams bonding over the day’s events as they enjoy drinks and dinner once night falls. These people are, afterall, your travel companions as well as your opponents and many friendships are invariably formed. It’s for this reason in part that more than 15% of teams are repeat customers.
Each day has built-in downtime for teams to take a breather from the competition, to explore sights, shopping and dining at their leisure. You’ll also get to mingle with the locals since most days are structured in such a way that you will are responsible for their own local transport. It certainly beats the restrictions of being on a tour bus and where invariably there’s always someone who’s late!
Since you’ll find yourself ‘on the move’ for much of the time, accommodation tends to be in sound 4-star hotels as you’ll most likely only ever be in your room to shower and sleep. Airfare costs are also kept to a minimum because Belkin is a master at making the most of airline miles, helping teams redeem miles for free tickets and helping to generate miles for teams that need them. So, if you like the idea of an adventure where you don’t know quite what you’ll be doing, where you’ll be going and who you’ll meet, give Competitours a go and discover that the unknown is truly a luxury in its own right.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Competitours.