Passport? Check.    Laptop? Check.    Video- camera? Check.  Travelling companion with a quick wit and adventurous spirit?  Priceless!

Have I piqued your interest? Are you wondering “what’s she planning this time?????”

This time, I am going somewhere in Europe (we won’t know our destination until we get there). Upon landing, it’s game on.

No, it’s not The Amazing Race, although National Geographic Traveler dubbed Competitours  “The Amazing Race for Regular People”.   That’s right, anybody with a sense of adventure, a couple grand $$ and a couple of weeks off can participate.  There are no auditions, no eliminations, and much less drama.

Competitours is the brainchild of Steve Belkin (to read more about him, click here). Basically, his concept for this breakthrough travel experience came from his participation in The Global Scavenger Hunt encompassing 23 days, 4 continents and 10 countries.  “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity”, recalls Belkin, “but only if you have the time and money.”

Enter Competitours. For 10 days, 17 teams of 2 will travel through several European countries using only local transportation, completing a number of daily challenges while videotaping their experiences.  Like Amazing Race, the challenges and destinations are unknown prior to the night before. Unlike the A. R, the last team in is not the loser. Nope. Teams are scored at the end of the day by how well they captured the spirit of the challenge on video.

photo by keeweechic

OK, so how’d she come up with this gig, you ask.  Well, now that I am the European Travel editor over at BellaOnline, I get lots of requests from tourism boards and companies wanting some free publicity.  Sorry, no can do. That’s against our ethics.  However, I was intrigued by this concept, and decided to have a closer look at Steve’s product.  Checked-out the website.  Ohhhhh, looks fun! I read the many press releases.  Hmmm…even the NYTimes endorsed it. Called him up for an interview.

“In Competitours”, Steve explained, “the challenge themes are about doing unusual and offbeat tasks in unexpected places, while still creating an understanding and appreciation of the host countries.  No cookie-cutter tours here. Competitours puts you in the middle of the culture and then gives you a chance to investigate, navigate, research, ham it up, be bold, be curious… This goes way beyond site-seeing. This is site-doing!”

HOLY SHIT, MAN!!! Count me in!!!!

The next step was finding the right team mate.  Hmmmm… this might be harder than I thought.  After having watched every season of The Amazing Race, and even going so far as filling out an application to participate w/ HK several years ago, we decided that it would be in our best interest not to take this type of trip together. Nope, I’ve seen too many relationships break up over that shit. Bickering, getting lost, drama…Let me browse facebook. (I’m an addict, remember).

And there it was, plain as day, a picture of the 2 of us on a mountain-biking excursion last summer in Canada.  My old friend Sylvia Currie.  I mean, how obvious was that?? We were BFF’s in third grade, for f**k’s sake—why wouldn’t we be perfect team mates???  I shot her a quick FB message., and within 24 hours, it was set.

Gotta come up w/ a team name

So we leave in June.  And believe me, I’ll be posting LOTS of updates and questions prior to then, so stay tuned.