We at The Global Scavenger Hunt get some great travel-related companies coming our way each year. We don't take our relationships litely and want to especially welcome Travelpro, who this year supplied all our travelers with some great travel gear for them to use (and abuse) on this year's travel adventure.
Welcome aboard Travelpro. And thank you!
And not only have they supplied the teams with gear, but they are also presenting the 2013 edition of The World's Greatest Travelers with some winning gear at the end of the event!
But there's more...they are also being very good neighbors by offering the GreatEscape Foundation some great travel gear to give to those that make a donation to the GreatEscape Foundation between now and when we crown The World's Greatest Travelers in Toronto on May 4th. So please make an online donation of at least $25.00 and you could be the recipient of some great Travelpro gear valued at over $600!
We are hoping to build one co-ed elementry school this year as a result of these online donations, so please give a little--because a little helps in big way.
Thank you again to all the folks at Travelpro!
Adventure Travel: Love Amazing Race? Try the Global Scavenger Hunt
Dreaming of a place on The Amazing Race? You can try a worldwide scavenger trip instead.
Ever wanted to run “The Amazing Race,” but without the cameras along, recording your every goof? Meet the Global Scavenger Hunt (www.
globalscavengerhunt.com), a yearly competition that predates the hit reality show and has for the past nine years been taking travelers on extraordinary adventures in every corner of the globe. I recently interviewed the hunt’s founder, William Chalmers, about this yearly adventure.
Q. Pauline Frommer: So, how would you define the Global Scavenger Hunt?
A. William Chalmers: Well, it’s an around-the-world travel adventure competition that annually crowns the world’s greatest travelers. We take folks on a 23-day adventure doing scavenges in 10 secret countries.
Q. Frommer: You say “secret countries.” By that, do you mean that the teams participating have no idea where they’re going before the hunt?
A. Chalmers: That’s it! It’s a real leap of faith. They’re going to go to 10 countries, but we don’t tell them which ones. And the reason we do that is because it is a competition. You know and I know when we travel, we buy guidebooks, we do all the research we can in advance online. This trip really tests people’s travel IQ. They have to deal with the logistics, languages, getting around - all without any prior preparations.
Q. Frommer: So how is your adventure different from what’s seen on “The Amazing Race”?
A. Chalmers: Well, there are no retakes with us (he laughs). We also don’t kick anybody off.
Q. Frommer: What kind of adventures do your participants have?
A. Chalmers: We’re big into food and markets, so I may send you to a market in a remote village in Sri Lanka to find a specific vegetable or fruit, and then you’ll try and find a chef nearby that I know and ask him to cook it in his special way and teach you to do that. Or we may be in Nepal, and I may ask you to visit a Tibetan refugee camp and spend the morning with the people there, getting to know them, what their issues and concerns and needs are. It’s really about “sight doing,” from the simple and the silly - like riding a miniature Icelandic pony to a glacier - to going to cultural events, like seeing whirling dervishes in Oman.
Q. Frommer: Do the people drive themselves to these events? How do they get around?
A. Chalmers: Public transportation. We’ve tried to make it as participatory and simple as possible, and I think you’ll agree with me that the public transportation in other parts of the world works remarkably well.
Q. Frommer: Your participants don’t do all this for free. How much do they pay, and how many teams are there?
A. Chalmers: The entry fee is $10,900 (U.S.), and that includes all your international airfare for 23 days and all your hotels. I do have to say, we stay in really nice places. The reason is that I want people to spend 12 to 14 hours a day really doing and participating and having challenges, and at the end of the day, I want them to feel safe and secure. The price also includes about 40 percent of your meals.
We accept no more than 25 teams of two, and there is an interview process involved. We want to make sure we have travelers who will be comfortable just about anywhere in the world. I’d be committing travel malpractice if I took someone who’d only been to Florida or a Caribbean island and dropped them in Delhi for four days!
Q. Frommer: I would think you still must have problems on the road. What do you do when someone gets lost and doesn’t show up at the hotel at the end of the day?
A. Chalmers: Everybody shows up. I’m knocking on wood right now. We’ve had nine events without major problems. People figure things out. Worst-case scenario, the participant has a business card of the hotel in their pocket, and they use that to get back at the end of the day in a taxi.
Q. Frommer: Do you have people who come back and compete year after year?
A. Chalmers: You know, I thought when I began this that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime proposition, but yes, we have Global Scavenger Hunt groupies, people who come back every year, because now this is the only way they want to travel.
JUST THE FACTS
There are still a few places left for the 2013 hunt, which will take place between April 12 and May 4. Chalmers also is taking applications for the 2014 hunt, which will take place in spring. For complete information and to apply, go to globalscavengerhunt..com.
A few weekends ago I spoke at the Bay Area Travel & Adventure Show. They had an A-List of interesting travel speakers including Rick Steves, Patricia Schultz of "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" fame, and Brat Pack-era actor-cum-traveler Andrew McCarthy.
My topic was "Taking a Global Adventure: The Do's and Don'ts of Taking that Once-in-a-lifetime Around the World Adventure." The good folks who organize these events around the country thought that I might know a thing or two about the topic as an avid traveler of three decades and due to my position serving as Event Director of the little annual around the world travel adventure competition known as The Global Scavenger Hunt. And of course they were right, as a passionate travel evangelist, I do have a few thoughts on the topic.
What really got my juices flowing however was interacting with literally hundreds of fellow travelers attending the weekend show. It seems apparent to me that discerning travelers have a pent up appetite for glorious travel adventures that go beyond the norm. They have a thirst to do something unique and a deep hunger to add meaning to whatever it is they end up doing.
Then it dawned on me, we members of Homo touristicus (aka traveling man) have evolved over the years and entered a new generation of traveling, a Third Generation that I dubbed Travel 3.0. (The Travel Adventure Show took place in the heart of Silicon Valley so the label seemed apropos!)
The First Generation of Homo touristicus happened when travelers began moving to and fro because they had to; due to trade, to attend family ceremonies, as war refugees, and yes escaping earlier eras of climate change!
The Second Generation of travelers evolved as incomes began to rise and when people started to travel because they could afford to. Their travels were mostly centered on fun and consumption; think Greek spas, the Grand Tours of Europe, the sight-seeing road trips of the 1960's & 70's, taking cruises, and Las Vegas weekends.
Talking with fellow travelers at the show, it seems to me that travelers have out grown and become weary of this empty conspicuous consumption, and have evolved into travelers that manifests itself within what we could call the hyper-tourism industry. I think author and adventurer, Robert Young Pelton, offered this rather insightful observation that might ring true: "The more civilized a society is, the more outrageous their adventures." Indeed, many of us have succumbed to this approach to travel, whose stages include:
Experience Junkies who move toward the Been there, Done that, What's next? Syndrome of list travel. Many of us pass through this period innocently enough as novice travelers. We gain status and a reputation among family, friends, and other would-be travelers, as we temple-hop, bar-hop, culture-hop, happening-hop, and country-hop our way around the world. We always seem to be in the right place at the right time; from Mardis Gras to the Running of the Bulls, from hanging in Beach-like off-the-beaten-path hidden gems to wherever the latest solar eclipse might be occurring. We're there.
Adrenaline Junkies are also found among this modern Second Generation genus of traveler. Again, we all know the type, and many of us pass through it at some point in our lives—usually when we are either too young to know better or fighting off a nasty bout of mid-life crisis. Adrenaline junkies usually seek out testosterone-induced and wholly fabricated dangers just to feel alive or gain street-cred among other like-minded travelers by visiting hot zones or war-torn regions; or are out climbing, surfing, boarding, hiking, or running the remotest, highest, fastest, deepest, craziest destinations of the world. It is all about them and their ego-gratification; and where they actually travel to seems secondary. (Maybe we should call it Post-Travel Tourism?)
Finally you have the Country Counters among us whose lone goal seems to be nothing more than checking off boxes on a list. As billionaires keep accumulating obscenely unspendable sums in order to keep track of who's who in their small world pecking order—so do Country Counters! Can we really call a toe-touching moment at an airport of one of the lesser Papua New Guinea islands a country you really visited? Is it really important to be the first person to visit South Sudan—for two hours?
Again, for the most part—and yes I personally know many wonderful and exceptional travelers who fit these travel-types today yet have somehow transcended these rather vulgar and vacuous definitions—the fact is that for all these travel approach types, the actual travel per se doesn't really matter to them; for they could just as easily accomplish their great feats in Cleveland, Sacramento or Phoenix. (Not that there is anything particularly wrong with Cleveland, Sacramento or Phoenix!)
As we all know, human ambition always requires new frontiers, what if's and challenges; and by the early 21st century it seems to me that discerning travelers have evolved into a new way of traveling—the Third Generation of travelers and Travel 3.0.
Travel 3.0 can be simply summed up in three words: authentic, challenging and participatory! What does that mean?
It means that instead of being sequestered in comfortable digs at resort hotels and tour buses away from the local and indigenous people you are visiting, that the Travel 3.0 raison d'être is to actually get you out of your comfort zone and engage in authentic, challenging and participatory travel experiences. Your traveling experience becomes all about finding the heart of a destination and having more intimate one-on-one encounters. It means aiming for a real cultural immersion. It also means attempting to feel more alive and connected with fellow human beings. It means traveling independently while testing both your strengths and weaknesses. About actively participating, about doing. Fundamentally, Travel 3.0 it is about learning and growing empathy and understanding about the world in which we live and travel! It demands that you trade your relaxation breaks for mind-expanding breaks.
On the flip side, it also means avoiding buying into those one-size fits-all travel experiences and pre-packaged tour-like products that leave nothing to chance. Travel 3.0 is radically different. It is about allowing serendipity in. It means that instead of just passively sight-seeing, that travel becomes more hands-on in highly participatory site-doing experiences. It calls on travelers to make good use of their own travel savvy, situational awareness and cumulative Travel IQ, to overcome the kismet of the moment—be they logistic challenges, language barriers or cultural differences—while being outside their safe comfort zones and autopilot default assumptions transcending your own limitations in extraordinary environments. In essence this all occurs by meeting people and turning strangers into friends. Trusting strangers in strange lands is a good motto for Travel 3.0 and maybe making friends in exotic destinations ought to be everyone's new travel metric, instead of country counting or fueling adrenaline fixes?
I have personally witnessed the evolution towards the Travel 3.0 attitude over the last decade while serving as the Event Director of The Global Scavenger Hunt. We noticed that travelers participating in our adventure seemed more alive, engaged, positive and creative...especially when they were in what could obviously be called the flow, Maslow's zone, or what we know as that peak mental state that occurs when travelers personal experiences are amplified. Maybe we could call it a type of travel rapture? It occurs with a feeling of being truly alive, running on all cylinders and being in the moment fully connected and fulfilled. It seemed to me that the magic of travel occurs when you immerse yourself wholly and freely into highly participatory, authentic and challenging experiences. In fact we have found that our travel adventure seemed to have turned into a full-contact sport somewhere along the way, but more of the mind and soul than of the body. Hence Travel 3.0.
Again I believe that travelers approaching the Travel 3.0 attitude could be really just unconsciously attempting to regain authenticity in their travels in the Age of Reality TV…which we know is rather inauthentic. You could call it a rebellion, a backlash maybe, but I think the essence of it is just that travelers are simply trying to get REAL and are looking for: Rewarding experiences, Enriching experiences, Adventurous experiences and Learning experiences.
How do we go about finding and taking REAL adventures? Here's what I think:
First you have to work at avoiding or letting the Guidebook Personality Disorder overtake you. That means going to the same hotels, same cafes, same bars and restaurants, same shops and tourist sites and do the same activities as everyone else who's read the guidebook that you read. You have to trade certainty for serendipity. It means getting away from the one-size-fits-all corporate travel approach of canned inauthentic experiences and developing what is known as your O-Factor—openness to new experience. It means confidently getting off-the-beaten path and finding and trying new pleasing destinations beyond the never-ending fashionable "latest, hottest it" places hyped in travel porn magazines or by Mad Men-like PR marketers. (Which are really one and the same!) You need to know that experience trumps destinations. And it means that you the traveler need to leave your expectations at home...alone unpacked and locked in a dark closet.That means that engagement matters more than comfort. It also means not setting yourself up for disappointment but rather setting yourself up for whatever happens.
Travel 3.0 also means that you should follow The Way of the Contrarian Traveler in knowing that travel is NOT just recreational escapism, fun-in-the-sun hedonism, gambling, duty-free shopping and acquiring more Frequent Flyer miles. You need to become an independent and thoughtful traveler—a conscious traveler. You need to lose your fear of the unknown and be willing to get lost visiting unlikely and maybe even unhip destinations. You need to be willing to zag when the conventional wisdom of the herd are zigging. It means taking calculated and reasonable personal risks knowing that the reward dynamic and emotional payoffs will be far greater and richer for you. Finally, you need to understand that no matter how bad the experience or destination, that every destination is worth at least one visit—even if it’s just to know that you never need to go back!
That age-old adage that "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone!" seems true enough, and the Travel 3.0 approach might just be the newest incarnation of Homo touristicus. And as Mark Twain said wisely long ago, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did do!"...so Just do it! There are NO excuses.
Becasue we sure are excited!
The Teams have been selected and assembled. And what an international group we have for 2013...we have travelers using seven different passports and that makes for an interesting and exciting international travel adventure competition.
The course has been set up and our travelers will be conducting highly participatory site-doing culturally-oriented scavenges in 11 countries...but of course we're not telling which eleven! Hence A Blind Date with the World!
Teams only know that they are assembling in Los Angeles on April 12th...after that?
We have some great sponsors lined up for the 2013 edition of The Globa Scavenger Hunt too and look forward to sending out to our travelers our annual Global Scavenger Hunt travel goodie bag very soon! I can say that it is our best ever...and we have had some great SWAG bags in the past...karma!
Finally, we are thrilled that our 2012 champs and the reigning holders of "The World's Greatest Travelers" trophy will be defending their titlein 2013. One can't help but wonder if they have it in them to be repeat champions? Where oh where are our bridesmaids?
Saskia And Andrew...the 2012 World's Greatest Travelers! Resting...
I will keep the comments box open for a few days if anyone wants to add anything! Or chime in...
Happy New Year y'all!
We still have a few spots open for our little annual around the world travel adventure...any Bucket List'sor New Year's resolutions need completing?