Once upon a time, travel was fun. Travel was a way test our creative limits. Travel was a joyful learning experience. That was before airplanes crammed us in like sardines to the limits, before TSA hassles, before sullen flight attendants, before people ate pizza in the seat next to you. Before they took off their shoes! Well, may we introduce you to Steve Belkin who is single-handedly bringing discovery, wonder and magic back to the travel experience with his company, Competitours. Imagine, if you will, a team travel experience with 10 days of mystery destinations and surprise challenges and you start to get the idea. This is stealth-discovery-learning at its best, transformative travel that will open your eyes and mind to what gifts the world has to offer. A trip with Competitours spans continental Western Europe and, while competitive, tolerates no drama queens or makes no demands for extraordinary physical tasks. Best of all. there is no weird food to be consumed. A Competitours trip is for people who are spontaneous and independent and challenges(www.competitours.com/challenges) are designed to test their creativity, resourcefulness and grace under pressure. Seven of the ten days are cool, compelling and unique group challenges where all teams perform the same activity or task at the same time and place. Three of the ten days feature a menu of challenges that each team can choose from to accomplish on an independent basis using a video camera to provide proof of their accomplishments. Results are scored by a team of independent judges. Unlike real life, there is a pot of gold awaiting the winners at the end: a cash prize of up to $7200 is split between the top three teams. Here’s the devilish twist: destinations and challenges are only revealed with 24-36 hours notice each day and each team is responsible for its own local transportation, making navigation skills prime. Logistics like these provide an incentive for teams to rely on local residents, unlike ordinary tours that isolate tourists in their own insulated bubble. We turned to some of last year’s participants for their appraisal of Competitours. Here are some of their comments: “Competitours is a travel experience like no other. You go places you never would have gone (or even known about). You do things you never would have done or imagined.” “You start out as a group of strangers – there were 16 of us on this last trip (my third) – and end up with a group of new friends. I’m still in touch with several former, fellow Compeitouristas.” “Competitours is such a unique and interesting way to travel and experience new places. I would definitely recommend it to others (and often have). That said, it’s not for everyone – you need to have a sense of adventure and be willing to surrender to the unexpected. The challenges do not involve any extreme physical activity though it helps to be in shape and have a good supply of energy as the days are long and full.” Those are some endorsements. You would think such a one-of-a-kind customized experience would come with a high end price. But it doesn’t. Mr. Belkin has skillfully organized things so that money is carefully spent while his teams are awake and active…sleeping does not require luxury hotels–though the 3 star accommodations are always clean, comfortable and conveniently located. His formidable contacts and investment in first hand investigation has allowed him to offer unique challenges that simply can’t be replicated by others because of exclusive special arrangements (who else but Belkin knows and can arrange not merely watching but actually participating with Murano’s finest glass blower?) or remote locations that host under-the-radar experiences like alpine coasters, scavenger hunts/labyrinths and fencing. Hotels are kept modest on purpose and while two meals are included, dining is up to the individual. Participants are encouraged to travel with one light piece of luggage. If you are a curious traveler, eager to learn and if you have skills and love active travel, this is the trip for you. Team spots for 2014 are open now, and the first trip is planned for June 15- June 26. The price tag is $3375 per person double occupancy plus air and there is a maximum 12 pairs of teams per trip. If you already have miles, Competitours can help you find those elusive awards at the lowest redemption level through a sister company,www.bookyouraward.com. If you don’t have any miles or points, they can help you generate the necessary miles/points by finding you lucrative credit card sign up bonus promotion deals. The trip is open to anyone from any country with a valid passport or visa to Western Europe. Participants under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Simply go towww.competitours.com to get this adventure started.
Competitours: putting the fun and discovery back into travel