You are high atop a hill in the Austrian Alps staring down upon a summer tobaggen track that weaves into the distance between pine trees and across green meadows. 3 minutes, 58 seconds—that’s the track time for you and your team mate to beat. You strap yourself in, push off the top of the hill and let ‘er fly.
You are not a participant in some alternative Olympic sport. Nor are you a contestant on the Amazing Race TV reality show. You are taking part in a trip with Competitours—the competitive, rewarding and, most of all, fun way experience Europe.
Here’s how it works: You sign up for a Competitours trip along with your team mate and choose from a selection of summer time trip dates. If you are a solo traveler Competitours will work to match you up with another participant. If you are a group of four you can divide into two teams and still travel together.
It isn’t until a few days before your Competitours trip begins that you’ll learn what mystery European destination you’ll be flying into. The Competitours folks love to keep participants guessing, so don’t be surprised if you fly into one city and then immediately hop aboard a train to another.
Once in Europe, every evening you and your team mate will be handed a dossier with a selection of the next day’s “challenges.” Each challenge is potentially worth a certain number of points depending on the challenge’s distance from your hotel and the time and difficulty involved. Your dossier contains a full description of each challenge and all the transportation and logistical details you need. More challenges are offered than you’ll have time for, which is one of the elements that makes Competitours so great—it is up to you and your team mate to decide which challenges you want to participate in.
So how are competition points earned? Every team has a portable video camera to document their challenges. For some challenges, like the aforementioned Austrian summer toboggan run, the goal is to complete the task in the fastest time possible. For others the goal is to shoot the most creative video. The videos of all the teams are then compared at the end of the day and awarded points.
And those points can add up to money. A fair bit of money. The top team shares US$5,500. Second and third place teams win $2,500 and $1,000 respectively.
Altogether, Competitours may be the coolest way to experience Europe.
The most rewarding travel, in our opinion anyway, is that with a goal. The goal can be personal (eg. tracking down your Swedish ancestors), educational (eg. learning to speak German), based on particular interest (eg. finding the best pasta in Rome) or hobby (eg. painting Paris street scenes) or whatever. Such goals provide direction. And a trip without direction is mere random wandering.
Competitours provides that direction in a fun, engaging way; it is the difference between being in a foreign city with no particular itinerary and being in that city with the challenge of finding the world’s only ‘infested” building. (See the video that resulted from this challenge below.)
We also like how Competitours is the perfect mix between a group and an individual trip. The pace of a Competitours trip allows for free time and personal pursuits. And the choice of challenges is large enough and diverse enough that you’ll always find Competitours challenges that interest you and meet your skill set.
Fans of Spot Cool Stuff’s travel blog should take special note: There’s a significant overlap between Competitours and the cool Europe travel ideas we’ve reviewed. Past Competitours challenges have included meals at pitch black dark restaurants, for example, and visits to Amsterdam’s unusual human body museum.
So, sign up for your Competitours experience. Embrace the unexpected. And may the best traveler win.
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Videos from actual Competitours challenges:
Race down an Austrian hill on a summer toboggan:
Find the world’s only “infested” building:
Climb atop an iconic stadium . . . and then zipline down: