Lessons from “The Amazing Race”
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past 15 years you’ll be familiar with “The Amazing Race”, for those that are not CBS provides a nice potted summary:
THE AMAZING RACE is a multi-Emmy Award-winning reality series hosted by Emmy Award- nominated host Phil Keoghan, which pits 11 teams, each comprised of two members, against each other on a trek around the world for approximately 25 days. At every destination, each team must compete in a series of challenges, some mental and some physical, and only when the tasks are completed will they learn of their next location. Teams who are the farthest behind will gradually be eliminated as the contest progresses, with the first team to arrive at the final destination winning $1 million.
You can learn more about the details of this challenging “game” by hundreds of hours trawling fan-sites, or just pop over to Wikipedia.
With that out of the way lets talk about four things travellers can take away from The Amazing Race.
Travel as we all know isn’t always easy, it can be long days of disappointing destinations and infuriating experiences dealing with people. The rewards, or the good days more than make up for these, and there’s always “next time” when the same things won’t happen again right?
Lesson 1: Route Info
The old saying of “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail” could apply here, it’s all about the research you do and how you prepare. On “The Amazing Race” teams are provided the basic outline of their leg. They’re told of key route and transit factors, provided a budget and from there it’s up them.
Sometimes it’s not the fastest route (13 hour ferry ride vs a 2 hour flight) nor the most direct route that can give you the best experience. Using resources like TripAdvisor or Travel Blogs can open you eyes to many of the different ways to move around or to your destination. Some may not seem glamorous or exciting when you’re sitting at the keyboard, but do try and remember that “half the fun is getting there”.
So when planning your travel don’t just think about the destination, consider the steps along the way. Can you “tick off” another form of travel, perhaps doing that overnight “sleeper” train journey will spare you the expense of a hotel room and let you arrive refreshed in another city or country. You could have tales of raging North Sea storms to share, stories that will set your holiday apart from everyone else who just flew.
Lesson 2: The Detour
“A Detour is a choice between two tasks”, sure for television these tasks can be arduous parodies of life or culture in of the current location, but for travellers the lesson is about making choices to suit you.
Have you ever read the destination guide for a place and thought how boring it sounds? The lesson here is to seek out activities that you will remember for years to come. Don’t be afraid to step out from your comfort zone, pull on the silly Panda hat and have a go. Do you consider yourself too old for some attractions? Wrong, you’re never too old for a theme park or zoo. Too shy for the beach? Why not get yourself dropped off Survivor style?
It’s these detours – or choices – that can make a good holiday great, some will cost money and others will take time, but unless you get out of the hotel and get amongst it you’ll never know. Eat in a local market, dance along with a street musician or take a look at that ancient monument. In short don’t limit yourself!
Lesson 3: Fast Forward
Plans can change, and sometimes getting the heck out of dodge is a good idea. Sometimes forgoing one aspect or leg of your journey can open up more opportunities. Say you’re sitting in you’re sitting in your hotel, the weathers been bad and you’ve trekked as much of the city as you can. Why not take a “Fast Forward” somewhere else? Check with the local Low-Cost-Carriers, maybe there’s an overnight side-trip you could take?
Just like on the show taking a Fast Forward also adds elements of risk and unknown, you are forced to make plans without having detailed planning, think on your feet and if you don’t pull it off you could find yourself having wasted time and money.
So for your successful Fast Forward be honest with yourself, are you prepared to just pack up and move on without the meticulous research that you’ve been relying on? Do you have the budget available for incidentals that you will incur?
If the answers yes to the above then why not give it a go?
Lesson 4: The Roadblock
Travelling as a couple, or in a group, is great because you get to share experiences, split some of the costs and you’ve always got a (hopefully) friendly face around when things go wrong. Maybe you’ll also moderate your experience to “fit in” with others.
Roadblocks are solo tasks, and for the traveller really it means taking the time to do your own thing. There’s nothing worse than being at the foot of a 1000 step climb into a cave system and hearing one of your travelling companions say “Lets go, it’s too far/hard”. You know what? Just do it without them! That’s right just because you’re in a group it doesn’t mean you’re bound to them.
From dining choices to attractions and travel types who we travel with can affect our experiences and it’s important to stop and ask yourself who’s trip you’re really on.
Tired of comforting to others? Take an entire trip yourself, without your partner or friends you can rediscover your inner strengths, develop your self reliance and even bring out the confidence you never knew you had.
One last thing;
The next time you’re watching “The Amazing Race” think about how you behave when you travel. How do you react when things go wrong, when the taxi driver gets lost and you end up at the wrong monument or the only food around is friend bugs?
Stress during travel can bring out the very worst in people, so think about how you deal with it, try pulling on the smile and thinking “well now I’ve seen Loch Ness AND the local duck pond!”
Don’t be “that team”…