Amazing Race for Regular People

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It takes a pretty nervy guy to launch a new business in this economy.

But Steve Belkin thinks he’s got an idea that will sell. The inveterate traveler and former television producer’s new venture is a tour company called Competitours, in which teams of two (couples, friends, parent-and-child) travel through Europe completing “challenges” and competing for a grand prize (another trip).

Picture Amazing Race without the frenzy. Challenges are set up for maximum exposure to the culture, not as a test of speed or prowess. One challenge might be to make a 45-second commercial at a Viking museum in Oslo. Another might be to try a dead man’s finger in Copenhagen (which turns out to be a hotdog). Points are accrued by completing tasks and videos are judged for creativity, not cinematography. “This isn’t about using an expensive camcorder, but being creative and original,” notes Belkin.

Participants won’t know what city they’re starting from until a couple of days before departure, and will only know a half-day in advance the next stop on their adventure, but they can count on visiting five or six countries in Western and Central Europe during the two-week trip. “The game is more of an arc, not a leash; it’s meant to complement, not overwhelm your trip,” says Belkin. Teams don’t necessarily travel together, though they may encounter each other as they complete their challenges.

Cost is $2,850 per person, including international airfare, lodging, and transportation (by train, bus, ferry, or foot). Shorter and cheaper options are available. The first trip is being offered this spring. As inducement for those skeptical about whether this new venture can deliver the goods, participants’ credit cards are not charged until after their return.

It’s an intriguing idea, but will it fly? Tell us what you think.

Photo: Competitours