When I signed up for the 2015 season of Competitours, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. The mantra of it being The Amazing Race for normal people was enough to hook me instantly but beyond what was on the Competitours, Sam and I really took a leap of faith on this one.
Having completed 30 challenges across 4 countries in 11 days with 9 other great teams, I can stomp my foot down with authority that this was hands down one of the most memorable surprise vacation travel experiences EVER. If the full 13 episodes wasn't enough to convince you, I've put together 10 compelling reasons to consider Competitours for next year's plans.
Read more about Competitours
- An inside look at Competitours from the teams of 216
- Competitours 2015 season and how we did
- Amazing Race for normal people
Other unique travel experiences
- Seeking travel experiences that are more than just crossing places off your list? Here are a few companies that offer surprise vacations.
 See Europe In An Entirely Different Way
I've been lucky enough to go to Europe several times over the past couple of years but after awhile you start realizing that your travel style stays the same. I know a lot of you can relate. You figure out where you're going and then you research all the spots you want to see based on the top attractions on TripAdvisor or LonelyPlanet. You slot them into your itinerary and you check them off your list.
Competitours is the complete antithesis of this type of travel. Instead of being tied to the guidebook, you'll find yourself completely at the whim of genius (and madman) Steve Belkin (organizer of Competitours). Any first time, second time or even third time visitor of Europe would never consider a lot of the cities we landed on in the map. Churwalden? Vaals? Even Rotterdam is not usually on most people's list.
As much as this sounds like a negative, I found this to be quite refreshing and eye opening to be able to go to places that aren't overrun by summer tourist hoards. There were numerous times where I remarked how pleasant it was to walk the cobbled pedestrian streets and being amongst the locals strolling around and doing their weekend shopping.
 The Amazing Race Experiences Are Real
The most vivid memories of being on Competitours was when I the experience we were going through was so jarringly similar to The Amazing Race that I literally had to get out of my head, shake it off and continue with the challenge. This happened to me more than once and for me as a fan of the show, I was giddy with joy.
Not sure if any of you watched season 26 of The Amazing Race where the teams were in Tokyo and had to do a robot dance but that kind of challenge is totally legit on Competitours. It's not something you imagine yourself doing but you dig in and try your best to pull out all the stops. For our dancing challenge at the Teatro Tasso in Sorrento, we experienced something similar. In a wickedly stuffy theater, we had to learn 3 different local folk dances in the span of 3 hours and perform them on stage. There were both flashes of brilliance and some epic fails but at the end of the day, we surprised even ourselves when we placed in the top 3 to bag some points.
 Play For Keeps
There's nothing like getting your competitive juices going than having a real cash prize. While winning cash shouldn't really be the main reason you should sign up for Competitours, it certainly layers on a very interesting component to travel.
Competition gets the adrenaline going and that becomes almost euphoric as you and your teammate strategize ways to put yourself in the best position to win. If you're thinking to yourself at this point that this sounds a little bit hardcore, it really isn't because there's not enough on the line to go overboard with game play but it certainly keeps you hustling.
 Build Incredible Camaraderie With Your Racemates
As much as Competitours is about competing, all of that is a small drop in the bucket compared to the relationships that you build and the long lasting friendships that you make.
Unlike The Amazing Race where you're often running your own race, with Competitours, you travel from destination to destination as a group. This means you really get to know your other racemates. There are also several challenges along the way where you're actually paired with other teams which all of us agreed were some of the best parts of the race.
Towards the end Competitours 2015, there was an incredible sense of camaraderie for all of us had accomplished and the bonds that will last a lifetime.
 Push Yourself To The Limit
It's human nature to stick to what we're comfortable with, what we're good at, and what won't make you go “Oh hell no!” The thing is, you don't know what you don't know and what Competitours is so good at proving is just how capable we are doing the craziest of things.
What you quickly learn with Competitours is that it isn't built where having physical strength is an advantage. Throughout the race, we had to rely on our dormant skills in cooking, dueling, dancing, scaling mountains, chocolate decorating and more. So many times we found ourselves going “I have no idea what we're doing but here goes nothing!”
 Travel By Doing
Passive travel is SO boring. Think about all of your most memorable trip experiences? For me, it's snorkelling with whalesharks, trekking to the hilltribes in Chiang Mai, and ice canoeing in Quebec. See the running trend here?
We got to do the most ridiculous of things of things during Competitours. Every season is different but how can you argue that this was pretty awesome?
- Learning how to make gelato
- Scavenger hunt on a boat
- Scaling a mountain in the Swiss Alps
- Racing down the world's longest Alpine Coaster
- Cooking a full 3 course Italian meal
 Anything Can Happen
You learn pretty quickly that the first thing you have to be willing to let go is control during the race. A lot of questions will swirl in your head like “how many days will we be in Sorrento?” and “where are we going to next?”
For those that know me, I'm quite the planner and control freak. Oddly enough, even for a guy like me, the not knowing aspect of Competitours was exhilarating. I still remember the collective shock the group felt when it was announced we'd be going to the Amalfi Coast after Brussels.
It's not even just about not knowing where we'll be going next or what we'll be doing. Steve is full of surprises. He'll pull out mini-challenges on a whim and that's when we have to take out our notepads from our bags and answer a question worth points. Just when you think you know what's going on, there'll be a surprise announcement about a change in schedule and you'll have to adapt.
 Next Level Bond With Your Race Partner
Travel is the ultimate in bonding. Unlike daily interactions with your significant other, family or friends, being able to travel with someone really puts the spotlight on one's strengths, weaknesses, the good, and the bad. Sure there's going to be arguments on the race but at the end of the day, I feel like my friendship with Sam solidified even more. Team Awesome Duo for life!
Doesn't hurt when you get a hotel room like this ;)
 Do Things You Could Never Do Anywhere Else
That's sounding all great and all but some of you might be thinking, “Couldn't I plan this kind of trip myself?” The answer is a big fat NO!
Okay fine some of it might be but a lot of what we did over the course of 11 days simply would not be possible as a solo or even a group of friends. Steve confirmed with me that it actually took a lot of convincing and negotiation to get these places we went to, to bastardize their product and add a competitive component to it.
So yes, Competitours is 100% unique and non replicable.
 Adventure of a Lifetime
Do you seek adventure? Do you love travel? Do you love The Amazing Race? Have you begrudgingly resided to the fact that you'll never be on the real show?
There's not a lot left to say here other than “What are you waiting for???”
What Competitours Is Not
Just for fun, I thought I'd create of list of all the reasons why you shouldn't sign up for next season's Competitours.
- Is not slow-paced – The day to day is busy usually involving two challenges a day and potentially some sort of travel.
- You will not get a ton of sleep – You certainly won't be able to sleep in.
- You will not be able to ball out – This is not about luxury so forget the spa and super fancy hotels.
- The itinerary will not include a lot of major European cities – This won't be for you if you're expecting to hit up the cities like Paris, London and Berlin.
- There will not be any sightseeing – Okay there is free time sprinkled throughout but for most part you'll be busy completing challenges and not doing the usual sightseeing.
Want to know more about the nitty gritty details of Competitours? I wrote a post introducing it earlier this year. Check it out to find out what Competitours is all about.
Lastly, if you're interested in joining Competitours in 2016 and want to have a one-on-one chat about the experience, shoot me an e-mail and I'd be happy to hop on a call.