We’ve done our share of tours over the years and, while they do have advantages such as skipping long lines and reducing the hassles of booking hotels and finding restaurants, exciting is not usually a word that jumps to mind when we describe them.
Then we heard about a new idea, Competitours. They bring a completely different concept to touring that could certainly change our outlook. I must say, our curiosity shot up to a inevitable feline fatality level.
Simply put, the idea is to make each tour a competition, à la The Amazing Race, while discovering new places in a unique and exciting manner. Honestly, we can hardly think of anything more up our alley.
The two of us are crazy competitive, to the point of jumping out of an airplane just because of a dare.
It started long ago, on the Christmas Eve before our oldest was born. On that not so silent night we spent hours timing each other to see who could solve her baby puzzle present the fastest.
We had bought her a learning toy that had shapes that fit into a cube and while attempting to wrap it made the big mistake of trying it out. Easy, peasy, just put the stars, circles, triangles, and rectangles into their corresponding holes.
Soon we were timing each other while madly stuffing plastic blocks into the shaped holes as fast as we possibly could… over and over and over again. This ridiculous display of insanity continued into the wee hours of Christmas morning until we finally collapsed, wild eyed and sweat drenched, under the tree.
Neither one of us can remember who emerged victorious, but the rivalry was burned into our memories so needless to say we will be taking winning a part of the $3,600 to be split by top 3 teams very seriously. We can also take comfort in some good news; even if we fail no one gets eliminated.
Even better, some challenges actually upend the normal ambition of seeking victory, instead committing to the intriguing goal of simply being the ‘least worst’! Now that sounds like something we might have a good shot at.
We also love to discover new destinations, especially those that are off the beaten path, and Competitours does just that as they zig zag through a secret ten day itinerary of nooks and crannies in Western Europe that will bypass most of the big cities and tourists meccas.
They have scoured the continent in search of iconic, pedestrian friendly medium sized cities, mountain hamlets, coastal enclaves, and medieval flavored villages to explore.
Along the way each two person team will earn points by completing fun, interactive challenge activities that take sightseeing to a new level. They call it sightDOING.
Previous challenges have included chocolate making in Switzerland, a scavenger hunt in Spain, indoor skydiving in Copenhagen, Kite fighting in Holland, an Iron Chef style dinner in Italy, and building and sailing a raft made of barrels, pieces of wood, and some twine in the shadow of the Rock of Gibraltar.
Other past Comptitours adventures took competitors down the longest alpine coaster in the world, which ironically is in one of the smallest countries in the world, Andorra. Another television style contest during a trek high in the Alps of Austria incorporated Tyrolian dance and musical instruments in a competition akin to Dancing With The Stars.
Of course these are just to get an idea of what to expect. The challenges change every year, so there is no telling what might be in store for this summer. We do know for sure that 2020 will feature at least three totally new contests that have never been attempted before.
With all that we have learned about this new travel concept, we can’t help but think that all of this really does sound just about perfect for us, with the possible exception being the fact that we are not spring chickens anymore.
No worries, all of the challenges are about being creative, resourceful, and spontaneous, so speed (yes, we have lost a step or two) or physical prowess are not the deciding factors. Anybody can play… and win!
Our competitive streak aside, ultimately Competitours is all about fun, with friendly rivalries made during the day and even more sociable revelry filling the nights.
Steve Belkin, the Evil Genius behind this great idea, and the fearless Trip Leader on the adventures, might just have us beat when it comes to competitive nature. How else could he possibly rack up over forty five million frequent flier miles?
That’s right, 45 million! From what we have learned this required some rather elaborate schemes involving Thai rice farmers, four thousand luggage tags, a couple of empty wings in budget hotels, and about nine thousand magazine subscriptions.
All we can say is holy crap!
An additional point in his favor, certainly with David, a life-long Packers fan, is that Steve is the self-proclaimed Ultimate Cheesehead.
He was also kind enough to put us in touch with several previous competitors, including his mother (who has participated six times and is a hoot) and all were more than happy to share some of their experiences with us.
Without fail they had a ball, but above and beyond their descriptions of the great time had by all, the thing that stood out to us was the bonding that occurred between contestants that was forged by the heat of the competition.
Each and every one of them agreed that this was an experience that made memories that will last a lifetime.
We think that’s what traveling is all about.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
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