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Wannabe Amazing Racers Listen Up: Competitours Explained

May 27, 2009 at 6:18 PM | by | ()

Do you know someone that's tried out for Amazing Race and didn't make it? Of course you do. The show has a rabid following of fans that say, "We can do that!" Only actually getting on the show is near impossible.

We personally know three "teams" of people who've tried out, creating quirky audition videos to showcase their love of travel, sense of adventure, willingness to accept tough challenges and in some cases, a totally dysfunctional relationship.

But they never made it on the show, despite repeated submissions.

Fortunately for them, there's Competitours, a travel outfit that sends folks on adventures throughout European cities. Much like Amazing Race, Competitours are asked to complete different challenges and activities each day, depending on the city they are in. But unlike the travel tours your grandparents favor, there's no walking tours involved, no one's sitting through a boring bus tour and there's no rigid 8am to 8pm itinerary of things to do.

"This is for people who like sight-doing and not sight-seeing," said Steve Belkin, founder and president of Competitours.

And for those who love the competitive edge of Amazing Race, the Competitours trips allow teams to compete against one another for a grand prize that includes at least 25 nights in a Starwood hotel, airfare, and up to $3,500 in spending money.

Steve Belkin, Competitours founder and President, at the Great Wall of China.

Teams for the trips range from two to four members. Each trip has a maximum number of 20 teams that compete. Competitours takes the teams through at least five major European cities (there's a total of 18 cities for which Competitours has created challenges) and under-the-radar outskirts on off-the-beaten-path excursions. Challenges often center around niche attractions and the must-see tourist spots. But these aren't head-on activities.

"Anyone can go to the top of the Eiffel Tower," Belkin said. "But only Competitours challenges teams to recruit 15 strangers to do the can-can."

Other challenges include hitting up the indoor ski resort in Europe, finding specific objects in open-air markets, "critiquing" Berlin Wall grafitti or visiting a torture museum in Prague where you have to choose three torture tools and explain how they could be used as non-lethal household items. So as you can see some challenges are physical and others are more--let's put it this way--mental.

Competitours are judged on each challenge they complete using a "dynamic scoring system" that ensures a level playing field and keeps the competition fierce.

"On any given day, you could be trailing in last place and then after the next challenge you could be catapulted into first," Belkin said. "It's not about speed. It's more about being creative and resourceful. And there's no pressure to leave a site you are enjoying for fear of falling behind or that speed or physical prowess will create undue advantages for some teams."

And unlike Amazing Race, there are no eliminations here. Travelers even get to wake up in the morning and choose what type of challenges they want to do. Teams will average 4-5 challenges per day.

"We decide the travel buffet and you decide what to pile on your plate," Belkin said.

Also separating Competitours from the travel tours pack is its "Pay Upon Performance" policy. Competitours authorizes travelers' credit cards at booking but they do not charge them until after the trip is completed. Belkin explained the reason for doing so.

"With so little info that we can provide in order to maintain the secrecy/surprise aspect of the trip, it is difficult for people to plunk down upfront money without feeling a little queasy," he elaborated in an email. "I understand such hesitation and the pay AFTER travel policy is our way of giving travelers the trust and confidence to move forward with us...the risk is on us to deliver, not on the customer to chase us for money."

That said, a typical 9-day Competitours trip averages about $2,199 and includes airfare to Europe from a gateway U.S. city, eight nights in a hotel and a Eurail pass.

The inaugural Competitours trip launched back in March with 11 teams participating and Belkin said that four of the teams already want to do another trip. Lucky for them, Competitours is set to take off to Europe again in two weeks and there's two more trips planned in July and August.

So will you be rolling cheese down a hill in Munich? Maybe not but whatever you do, you can do it free of the network TV cameras. Still, be nice to your mother/team partner. She's just trying to help you out!

Tomorrow morning Jaunted will be kicking off a contest for readers to win a free trip to Europe from Competitours. So be sure to tune in tomorrow for more details and your chance to enter the contest!

Related Stories:
· Competitours [Official Site]
· Competitours: A New Kind of Travel Competition [GoNomad.com]

Archived Comments:

The Global Scavenger Hunt travel competition

This event is on a small European scale almost like the annual around the world travel adventure competition known as The Global Scavenger Hunt--the 2009 event just finished. 10 countries across 4 continents in 23-days on A Blind Date With The World--not a regular tour, but an annual competition! I'm sure this organizer, Steve B., enjoyed his participation in that event so much he copied it...we like that flattery. So, travelers wanted to test their Travel IQ in an event that annually crowns The World's Greatest Travelers...join the 2010 event. www.GlobalScavengerHunt.com


My wife and I were on the inaugural March 15th Competitour. Steve tried out two different methods of running the race, with Monday through Wednesday being an 'unlimited' challenge similar to the Global Scavenger Hunt.

He then switched for Thursday and Friday to the planned Competitours method of limiting the challenges to a 75 point maximum point total, which worked out to about 3 challenges a day.

The second part was a huge improvement, since we had time to stop for lunch or to see more of the 'challenge' we were accomplishing.

I could go on and on, but I already blogged about each day of our experience here: http://bit.ly/dPWgV

My wife and I would love to do the 9-day version of Competitours again.


I was lucky enough to experience the Global Scavenger Hunt in 2004. Its a once-in-a-lifetime experience executed by a travel savvy and organized management team. If you have the time and money, by all means, I recommend that trip. A traveler with a zest for travel and a bit of a competitive streak will be well-served by having the choices of either Glabal Scavenger Hunt or Competitours.


My friend Mike and I competed with Kent and his wife (see comment above) and others on the Innaugural run last March. We had a blast. Both of us are well travelled so the lure of the trip was not "another trip to Europe" but something more. The appeal of Competitours was its fresh way of seeing, enjoying and (most important) interacting with the people and places we visited. During the course of the daily challenges we became close with our fellow travellers and had some fantastic experiences engaging the locals in our quests. I'd go again in a heartbeat...

Wrong URL...

Oops. Wrong link to the Competitours day by day post. This one works...


Wonderful Vacation!

3 months after our inaugural Competitour, my husband and I are still laughing. We had an absolute blast and completed some challenges we'd never have found on our own.... The Competitours team has done an excellent job developing travel opportunities that ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous-- Indeed some of the challenges stretched us beyond our comfort zone leading us to confront some of history's highs and lows, as well as some of mankind's silliest and most serious moments. Combined, our trip wasn't just about touring, the Competitour was about traveling, witnessing, participating and contributing leaving us 100% energized (not to mention making some new wonderful friends). We can't wait to go again!


My girlfriend and I went on the inaugural Competitours trip in March also. It was billed as the Amazing Race for the Rest of Us, and what a week it was! We arrived in Europe pumped at the prospect of competing with other travel junkies. We have traveled extensively and were looking for something more stimulating. And we weren't disappointed. The challenges were....challenging. We went to several Japanese restaurants in Little Tokyo in Dusseldorf to find something called Manga, only to find out (at the 3rd restaurant) it was a Japanese comic book! And doing a rap video at the Bols Distillery in Amsterdam was a hoot. They just happened to be playing some rap type music on their sound system, so we rapped to it for our video. But the best was our interaction with locals as we asked for their help to complete our challenges. They laughed when they understood our quest and wanted to participate. What evolved with the other teams was not what we had anticipated in a competition. Several of us went on challenges together, shooting our videos separately, but enjoying the hunt together. At breakfast, we told horror stories and showed hilarious videos we had shot the day before. Would we do it again? You bet, but next time we would take less clothes....


As an 'average' American with an above average competitor spirit, we would be great advertising for everyone - all ages- for these trips. The learning curve - educationally and culturally will be so stimulating and expansive. We will try it all and involve everyone we can. Enter us in the contest!!! I'm ready!

What a great experience!

I was on the inaugural trip and though I knew it was going to be interesting and different, it turned out to be so much more. The challenges were challenging but inventive and fun, the places we went I never would have experienced in quite the same way as a 'regular traveler' and the fellow contestants were terrific, interesting people. Some nice friendships were formed. It was really hard getting back from this one, the experience stayed with me long after I returned. I'm a pretty seasoned traveler but this was a once-in-a-lifetime (so far) trip.

Read my blog and enjoy!

To see the first trip of Competitours, go to http://www.travelandcompete.com/Site/Competitours/Competitours.html