The inaugural Competitours starts Monday and Team Gadling will be there!

Ok, I think I’m man enough to admit it. My wife and I watch The Amazing Race religiously. Haven’t missed an episode, in fact. I think we both enjoy sitting on the couch while second guessing the strategic choices each team makes as we watch some of their relationships disintegrate while they work their way around the world.

After nearly every episode, I’ve realized two things:

1) I’m incredibly lucky to be married to a non-psychopathic, intelligent and sweet woman who has the ability to see both sides of any argument.


2) I know we could get through the Amazing Race together without destroying our 16-year marriage.

It’s impossible NOT to watch The Amazing Race without imagining how you and your partner, whether it’s your wife, brother, friend, parent or child, would accomplish the tasks and handle the challenges associated with traveling around the world.

Unfortunately, my wife has zero interest in testing our travel skills and marriage on television, and as much as I’d like to do it, I’d never be able to get a month off to fly around the world with her. Not to mention the trouble with finding someone to look after our kids while we’re gallivanting around the globe.

But the day before my 40th birthday in January, the Gadling team received an e-mail from Grant Martin, our editor, telling us about Competitours, an “Amazing Race like” tour of Europe. Close to a dozen teams would be competing for 7 nights at any Starwood hotel (Sheraton, Westin or Le Meridian) worldwide and $700 cash.

Grant wondered if anyone would like to go on the inaugural Competitours trip and write about the experience? Whoever went would have to pay their way, of course – this was no freebie.

I decided to wait until the next day to spring it on my wife.

“Come on, honey! It’d be a blast. And it’s only for a week!”

In a moment of weakness, she caved, probably because it was, in fact my birthday after all. She also gave in to my incessant whining about how I needed the latest Canon digital SLR.

I ran the kiddy-care plan past my sister who lives in Seattle. Could she come to New Hampshire to take care of our girls?

Again, milking the birthday, I was able to convince her that this would be a fun thing to do. I mean, how often do you get to take care of a seven and three-year old, big sis? Shockingly, she agreed.

The event starts on March 15th, when we’ll meet up with ten other teams of two in Newark before heading to our first destination, which has just been revealed. We’re going to Frankfurt, Germany, but we still don’t know the two cities after that.

For us, not knowing the destinations is a big reason to take this trip. While Competitours is a tour operator, they’ve managed to put together a compelling reason to travel, key at a time when many are closely evaluating their expenses.

Each day teams will choose up to 6 of the 9 to 12 tasks in and around a city to accomplish. Bonus points will be given for teams that take on the risk/reward task portion of each challenge. Each task has to be documented with a Flip Mino camera. We’ve chosen the Mino HD version to use.

So my wife and I are excited to report on the launch of this innovative tour here at Gadling, and I’ll enjoy a break from my day job, and the first vacation my wife and I have taken in this decade that didn’t include the kids.

The other teams are coming from all over the country. Five of these teams have been sponsored by FlyerTalk, a forum for frequent flyers that take great pride in racking up miles in rather creative ways. They competed and won the honor of traveling on behalf of FlyerTalk, and some of them have already proven adept at finding out what the third city will be.

So we’ve written off in our minds any chance that we’ll beat these type-A travelers, but we hope to have a great time along the way.

Competitours offers much larger prizes after our inaugural, with one prize that includes 40 nights at a Starwood hotel and $5,000 cash along with a pair of airline tickets. I can’t think of too many travel packages where you can win something so significant.

Follow along with us each day starting on March 16th. We’ll be uploading video of some of the challenges without giving too much of the Competitour secrets away, and introducing you to the other teams.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, take a look at the 8, 10 and 14-day trips Competitours is offering for June, July and August of this year. If you go, please let us know, as we’d love to hear how Competitours evolves from our inaugural/trial/test run that starts this Sunday. Of course, I’ll be using updating everything as it happens via Twitter as well.

For more information, the Chicago Sun Times has written up a nice piece and that details some examples of the tasks we’ll be given each day. And finally, each team has been encouraged to post about the race from their perspective at, so check out our competition. There are some amazing teams competing!

Be sure to follow all of Kent’s posts about the Competitours race.

Kent Wien is a regular here at Gadling with his Cockpit Chronicles and Plane Answers features.

Read what happened for the rest of the week: Pre-departure, departure, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4 and day 5.