Amazing Race for Regular People

Competitours.pngIt takes a pretty nervy guy to launch a new business in this economy.

But Steve Belkin thinks he’s got an idea that will sell. The inveterate traveler and former television producer’s new venture is a tour company called Competitours, in which teams of two (couples, friends, parent-and-child) travel through Europe completing “challenges” and competing for a grand prize (another trip).

Picture Amazing Race without the frenzy. Challenges are set up for maximum exposure to the culture, not as a test of speed or prowess. One challenge might be to make a 45-second commercial at a Viking museum in Oslo. Another might be to try a dead man’s finger in Copenhagen (which turns out to be a hotdog). Points are accrued by completing tasks and videos are judged for creativity, not cinematography. “This isn’t about using an expensive camcorder, but being creative and original,” notes Belkin.

Participants won’t know what city they’re starting from until a couple of days before departure, and will only know a half-day in advance the next stop on their adventure, but they can count on visiting five or six countries in Western and Central Europe during the two-week trip. “The game is more of an arc, not a leash; it’s meant to complement, not overwhelm your trip,” says Belkin. Teams don’t necessarily travel together, though they may encounter each other as they complete their challenges.

Cost is $2,850 per person, including international airfare, lodging, and transportation (by train, bus, ferry, or foot). Shorter and cheaper options are available. The first trip is being offered this spring. As inducement for those skeptical about whether this new venture can deliver the goods, participants’ credit cards are not charged until after their return.

It’s an intriguing idea, but will it fly? Tell us what you think.

Photo: Competitours


  1. MightyTravels
    March 26, 2014, 2:04 pm

    Steve is a cool guy. He knows what he is doing and he goes big or fails. Love this guy! Torsten @

  2. Whiteboard
    July 19, 2011, 5:12 pm

    What a great and novel idea for someone looking to travel Europe not knowing where to start. Provides unique interaction while ‘absorbing’ the culture rather than just being an overwhelmed tourist.

  3. TonyGarlander
    February 20, 2011, 11:34 pm

    Since the Competitours race is more about creativity over speed, I’m partnering up with my Mother, the woman that invented the internet and 33-sided dice. Place your bets now folks! and if you are human enough, come race with us!
    Banking Tips

  4. Asley Davis
    February 5, 2011, 9:36 pm

    Great article… gives great insight. Just as exciting as the actual TV show! Also see Huskies for more info.

  5. Brian Tamaki
    February 5, 2011, 9:33 pm

    Wow, great article, can’t wait to get started

  6. ANAマイレージ
    April 16, 2010, 4:01 am

    Thanks for the great post. I always like to bookmark travel or vacation related posts like this one.

  7. Ultimate Banner Stands
    March 22, 2010, 5:46 am

    These sound like challenging trips. Fantastic idea.

  8. tatil otelleri
    February 25, 2010, 12:25 pm

    Hey, Thank you for sharing this, I will put a linkback from back to this site , so people can take a look at this !

  9. frank
    August 28, 2009, 10:31 am

    Hey, Thank you for sharing this, I will put a linkback from back to this site , so people can take a look at this !

  10. prague accommodation
    July 13, 2009, 9:21 pm

    This idea sounds very fun this would be great,,Good posting!

  11. Tyler MacNiven
    May 12, 2009, 7:13 pm

    Tyler MacNiven here, winner of Amazing Race season 9. I’m racing Competitours later this summer to prove that my win wasn’t a fluke. Also this last season of the race got my craving for international racing whistling like a teapot. Since the Competitours race is more about creativity over speed, I’m partnering up with my Mother, the woman that invented the internet and 33-sided dice. Place your bets now folks! and if you are human enough, come race with us!

  12. SteveB
    March 30, 2009, 3:25 pm

    Feel free to take a peek at the inaugural trip of Competitours…

  13. Sheri
    February 15, 2009, 5:59 pm

    So love this idea and can’t wait for the fun to begin. I’m scheduled for the first trip and am so eager to find out the creative and zany ideas Steve has in store for us.

  14. Kevin Evans
    February 12, 2009, 10:09 am

    5 countries in 14 days is pretty fast-paced, but to win you’ll need to be pretty up to speed on the places before you go. I reckon Competitours will be like a master-class – deep-dive learning on specific countries and cultures you’re interested in.
    Sounds like a blast. We’re going to send some writers (not me unfortunately :-( ) to document the practice run in March.
    Check out The Travel’s write up here:

  15. George
    February 9, 2009, 9:17 am

    I am fortunate enough to have been picked and sponsored by FlyerTalk (thank you Randy Petersen!) to participate in a Competitours experience. Seems like this one has fun written all over it! Sitting in a chair watching others experience life does nothing for me. Actually, I don’t even own a TV… I’d rather play the sport or visit the far-off destination myself. Competitours seems to be a great balance of fun, creativity and travel. What could be better! Off to the airport!

  16. Elizabeth
    February 8, 2009, 1:41 am

    Loving travel and adventure, I’m on my way with a gal pal and other competitours adventurers to Europe next month to embark on this fantastic web-based version of TAR!
    If you don’t live your dreams, who will live them for you?

  17. SteveB
    February 7, 2009, 10:00 pm

    On February 15 will be the debut episode of one of NG Traveler readers highest rated TV shows- ‘The Amazing Race’.
    There will be plenty of armchair quarterbacks muttering for the 13th straight season about how “I could do that”…knowing full well that they would never have the time to audition let alone participate if chosen.
    Well, COMPETITOURS, a new team travel competition company, is ready to call the bluff of all those ‘Amazing Race’ wannabees. COMPETITOURS features a bunch of teams that are sent on a secret trip to Europe to earn points by accomplishing a series of fun, quirky and interactive challenges, documented via videocam for our judges to score.
    At stake, a worldwide travel spree grand prize, featuring up to 40 nights at over 115 Starwood hotels spanning 51 exotic countries, plus airfare and spending money.
    Competitours is open to ANYONE- as the trip length is short (8-14 day options), the pricing affordable ($1995-$2950 options) and best of all, the challenges are on a level playing field- based on creativity, resourcefullness and a little zaniness, NOT speed, strength or physical stunts. Spontaniety is also a key skill, as teams will be provided only a suspenseful half-day’s notice before the next day’s destination and challenges are revealed.
    Competititors is about sightDOING, not merely sightseeing. Imagine brain-tingling challenges like:
    * Visit the Viking Museum in Oslo and shoot a short mock commercial “selling” a 9th century Viking Ship as a vacation option
    * Go to the Torture Museum in Prague, and shoot a video explaining how an instrument of torture could be used as a nonlethal household item
    * Visit a graffiti-filled remnant of the Berlin Wall and shoot a video as an art critic trying to provide a ‘meaningful’ interpretation to the graffiti…be serious, silly, sarcastic, whatever
    Destinations will feature a dynamic mix of Eurail-connected bustling big cities, under-the-radar cool spots, timeless village life and the great outdoors across Western and Central Europe.
    NG Traveler readers will finally have an opportunity to transform a reality TV show into their OWN reality travel experience as contestants on Competitours. Teams can feature parents or grandparents and teens, college buddies, empty nesters, or any pairing of people with a serious travel itch. Trips will be launching throughout the summer, check for details.

  18. pamela
    February 1, 2009, 4:58 pm

    Sounds great, but for those that are truly interested in a real mano-mano global travel adventure competition of epic quality and scope…one that will visit 10 countries across 4 contintents over a three week period…and crown The World’s Greatest Travelers…see The Global Scavenger Hunt.…That‘s the place were Steve got his idea from! P –

  19. SteveB
    January 7, 2009, 1:37 am

    As a very satisfied participant on the Global Scavenger Hunt in 2004, I can vouch for their travel savvy and customer centric management. Its indeed a once in a lifetime experience.
    In fact, Competitours was inspired by my interest in trying to create a team travel competition that had a cost and trip length and Europe-centric locale that could simply be accessible to a broader swath of travelers.
    GSH is indeed the mothership of this team travel concept. Either choice will be a winning one for interested folks.

  20. william
    January 5, 2009, 3:45 pm

    For those of you that want a truly around the world experience there is The Global Scavenger Hunt travel adventure competition…they have crowned The World’s Greatest Travelers four time now and the next event is set for April 17, 2009!

  21. Kevin
    January 5, 2009, 10:11 am

    It sounds like this trip would have all the fun and drama of the Amazing Race without any of the hassles of being an actual television show. It would be a great way to experience Europe and the competitive side of me would love the daily challenges.

  22. intrigued
    December 31, 2008, 11:34 am

    I’m not typically an early adopter and so won’t be one of the first to sign up for this. But would be very interested to hear about the first group that takes the tour to see how they liked it and who won … and how difficult/easy it was to win. I hope Nat. Geo. will do some sort of followup on this.

  23. J Rosenman
    December 30, 2008, 8:46 pm

    What a great idea!!! Where? When? I’m there!

  24. jamie b
    December 30, 2008, 3:31 pm

    I want to do this! I know what Steve can do and if I didn’t have a job, a schedule and children, I would be his guinea pig and do the first trip. I am putting it on my bucket list and will make sure I check it off sooner rather than later. Great price, great concept and I trust the execution will be superb!!

  25. Chris
    December 30, 2008, 2:52 pm

    What a trip! I’m not sure if I’d actually have the gumption to take the adventure, but I know lots of people who would. I just checked out the Competitours website and it looks like it would be a blast. Might be even more fun for a big group of friends to compete against each other…. it would have the benefits of travelling with folks you like – but the spirit of a solo vacation. And cocktail hour would certainly be, well, spirited!

  26. fran belkin
    December 30, 2008, 2:37 pm

    My friend and I would like to try this, it sounds like fun and we like the idea of the competition.

  27. Tova
    December 30, 2008, 1:56 pm

    Count me in! I am in the process of convincing my 70+ young Mom to travel with me to see Europe the “real way” with Competitours! Love the blending of travel, competition and personal ingenuity. Thanks Steve for your creativity and for helping dreams come true for us travel-lovin’ folks. This will change hum-drum traveling to ho-ho-ho, way to go traveling! The best to you in your newest endeavor!

  28. JerryM
    December 30, 2008, 1:45 pm

    This is so cool. Priced right and a spectacular prize. I’m seriously considering this for my honeymoon!

  29. Teri Lautman
    December 30, 2008, 12:27 am

    This looks great. Beyond the hohum of “lets get a Eurail pass like my parents did, and buy a guide book.”
    If I could find a friend with a sense of adventure I would love to do this. If some with-it grandma would take her grandoughter how cool would that be. It seems they’ve thought of everything. I hope they post the first one’s video clips on line so we can see it.
    Good luck to all!

  30. David Thompson
    December 29, 2008, 10:27 pm

    This is a stellar idea and appeals to all ages as well as those with an adventurous side. It certainly appeals to me.
    Team travel, great prizes, spontaneous travel….sweet!
    Can’t wait to see the results of the first competition.
    ~ Dave
    Dave’s Travel Corner

  31. JasonT
    December 29, 2008, 6:37 pm

    Kudos to National Geographic Traveler for finding! Great business concept especially for adventrous travelers. I bet Competitours would make a heck of a gift for a recent college grad before jumping into the real world!
    Best of luck Competitours!

  32. Liz
    December 29, 2008, 6:08 pm

    I soooo want to sign up for this! What a creative and unique idea! This is the kind of entrepreneurship that will get us out of the recession! Well. . .if not at least we’d have a BLAST spending our $ :)
    This sounds like a wonderful idea. I am a devoted fan of TAR and to be able to live just a portion of it well. . .it would be fantastic!

  33. AronE
    December 29, 2008, 4:58 pm

    What a really fun idea! Renminds me of my fun-filled youth backpacking through Europe on a song, a prayer and a Europass.
    Stev, hope your idea takes off, it will change the face of travel.

  34. Willy
    December 29, 2008, 4:04 pm

    I really enjoy both “themed travel” and surprises. I think it would be exciting for someone else to generate the theme for my trip — and to surprise me along the way.

  35. JimBo
    December 29, 2008, 4:03 pm

    Wow – what a great and novel idea for someone looking to travel Europe not knowing where to start. Provides unique interaction while ‘absorbing’ the culture rather than just being an overwhelmed tourist.
    Best of Luck to the Creator and Bon Voyage to the lucky participants!

  36. Keith
    December 28, 2008, 11:40 am

    This is a great price for memories and stories that will last a lifetime.

  37. David
    December 27, 2008, 11:03 pm

    This is a great idea! I hope it succeeds.

  38. Helena Handbaskets
    December 27, 2008, 4:46 pm

    If we didn’t have small kids to account for and school schedules to coordinate, my wife and I would likely be among the early competitourists. The competition sounds like a fun new way to see Europe.
    I’m also thoroughly impressed by the implementation of the web site and the thoughtfulness that has clearly gone into preparations for these events. Much more reassuring than the bus tour package companies, it seems to me.

  39. Mark Beattie
    December 27, 2008, 3:29 am

    Seems like the first genuine new idea in this area for a good few years if you ask me.
    Although based in the UK, a cheap ticket to the US would let me participate.
    Good idea for a new era.

  40. DanielW
    December 27, 2008, 1:03 am

    This is an awesome idea, and a great price when you consider how many countries are visited. Furthermore, it’s more than a cookie-cutter “look at the sights from the bus” but a much more immersive experience, completing tasks and interacting with people, much like TAR.
    And unlike TAR, there’s no time pressure so you can actually enjoy the experience. I’m definitely going to do this… it’s not a matter of if, but when.

  41. MyXa
    December 26, 2008, 9:29 pm

    Amazing Idea! I think this is the best way for a person to travel the world. This way you can go places and do things that never crossed your mind before. Way to go!

  42. Dan
    December 26, 2008, 4:22 pm

    Wow-I’ve wanted to be on TAR since I first saw it. This looks like is could be pretty awesome!

  43. MHansen
    December 26, 2008, 3:36 pm

    Great idea (especially since it costs pretty much the same as a normal European vacation package)! I’ve always watched the show “Amazing Race” and wished I could be contestant.

  44. WrightBrother
    December 26, 2008, 12:56 pm

    This sounds like a great way to see and experience America on non-US soil. Seems like the whole idea of contests and challenges would get in the way of the actual cultures one would want to see.
    That said, this would be a great way for foreigners to see and experience the USA!

  45. KathyW
    December 26, 2008, 9:37 am

    This sounds like a great idea for those people looking for a different vacation!! These trips put an end to those cookie cutter planned vacations.
    I would love to hear more about it.

  46. Steven Frischling
    December 26, 2008, 9:31 am

    I had the pleasure of reviewing the Competitours web site while it was in pre-release, while working on a round-the-world ‘boot camp’ for travel photographers ( and my first reaction was “Wow.”
    I think the number of people who want an adventure in their travel is seriously under estimated. There are hundreds of cruises and other tours that claim ‘adventure,’ but Competitours actually forces its clients to think for themselves and choose their own adventure. The need to use ones intellect and logistical skills to compete a task in an unfamiliar place is great fun and very rewarding.
    I think the whole concept of Competitours is not only exciting, but also priced in such a way that it is accessible to the masses.
    I wish Steve Belkin great success with Competitours,, I’m sure it will take off.
    Steven Frischling
    The Travel Strategist & Flying With Fish

  47. Ed Pizza
    December 26, 2008, 9:14 am

    Wow! What a creative idea. As someone who loves international travel, I could imagine this being a lot of fun. And $2800 per person for a European vacation is actually not a bad deal.

  48. DaveH
    December 26, 2008, 9:01 am

    Sounds like a superb idea to me!! All the charm of European travel with the intrigue of a contest to perhaps win another trip. But win or lose it makes the whole trip unique and something to “brag” about when I return state-side.

  49. Wandering Aramean
    December 26, 2008, 8:29 am

    The competition aspect of it is great and fun, but I also like the fact that there is variety and choices at each stop. If you’re tired or hung over you can opt for a day downtown in a museum. If you’re feeling adventurous there’s the option for something more far-flung.
    As one who never was sated by the typical plan of visit city center and several museums before moving to the next stop, this sort of loosely guided tour seems like a great way to see a lot of places and actually get some value out of them. Plus, you get to hang out with other folks who like the hit-and-run style of travel that I do!

  50. Yachtcharter Griechenland
    December 26, 2008, 5:06 am

    YachtCharter Griechenland
    Wow, I never knew that Amazing Race for Regular People. That’s pretty interesting…

  51. SteveB
    December 25, 2008, 12:41 am

    Hi Joanna-
    There are some trip options that accomodate more modest budgets, please feel free to check them out on the website.

  52. Joanna
    December 25, 2008, 12:33 am

    Oh boy, that sounds like fun. I picked a heck of a time to not have any money. :-P

  53. Celine
    December 24, 2008, 7:10 am

    Sounds like a great idea!

  54. Cory
    December 24, 2008, 12:13 am

    I’ve never felt compelled to leave a comment on a website before, and believe me I’ve spent many hours “stumbling”. This has to be one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard of. I’ve been interested in traveling in europe for many years, but this adventure theme makes it seem so much more fun, yet also guided… letting you explore along the way too. This company will surely prosper! Good luck to them!

  55. rob
    December 23, 2008, 3:58 pm

    Coming from the perspective of an “older”person (56), who still has the adventurous soul of a 21 year old, AND who has worked as a travel agent for 35 years, I think it would be a blast. I would recommend it to my daughter and her friends as a way to genuinely become involved with the countries they visit from an organic level. The experience will become much more memorable for having done this.