The 2014 Winter Olympics are over with all gold medals handed out -- the first losers got silver. The Super Bowl has been won by Seattle. March Madness is set to begin and the NBA and NHL playoffs are just around the corner.
Did you know that the travel world championships were set to begin soon too?
Travelers are very competitive. We're all capable Indiana Joneses and would-be Magellans. Who amongst us hasn't sat watching The Amazing Race yelling out, "I could do that?"
We all know the story: An English gentlemen bets £20,000 in 1872 that he can travel around the world in 80 days -- he does it too! And so begins competitive travel.
We all want to test ourselves, challenge our fish-out-of-water creativity in exotic settings, while constantly assessing and fine-tuning our travel skill sets. Of course bragging rights and status among our fellow travelers aren't bad outcomes either.
Every traveler I know -- be they armchair wannabes, neophytes, blog writers, media personalities or travel industry professionals -- all believe that they have it wired... and they alone know the best way to travel. It may be a genetic defect we members of homo touristicus share -- the "We're the best gene!"
The travel world championship is set to begin April 11th in Vancouver, British Columbia and will conclude 23 days later in Chicago with the crowning of the 2014 edition of The World's Greatest Travelers.
Fourteen teams of two will attempt use their Travel IQ to outsmart, outperform and out travel all the other teams in the 10th edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt, an around the world travel adventure competition.
It is A Blind Date With the World because the travelers will not known which 10 countries they will be visiting over the three-plus weeks of the competition. And what better way to test a traveler's travel savvy than throw him willy-nilly into a country and ask them to figure it out.
Clearly, there are a lot of travel skills that one can acquire over time with the right experiences: Doing things on the cheap, overcoming language barriers, managing cultural nuances, situational awareness, confidently dealing with ever-changing logistics, diplomatically tackling the dysfunctional personalities of travel mates and tempering the elation, quickly followed by fatigue, of being on the road for an extended period in a constant state of unknown.
I am always asked: Is it possible to test someone's Travel IQ in a competition against other great travelers?
Yes it is... in fact there are several precursors that have led to the travel world championships. There exist a few benchmark travel-related competitions per se (mostly for cocktail hour bragging rights), that include: the Circumnavigators Club, founded in 1902, for folks that have circled the globe in one trip. There's the self-proclaimed "most traveled people" category of folks who have supposedly stepped foot in more places than anyone else. And there is even a club for tourists who have visited at least 100 countries (aka the Century Club who somehow count 321 "countries") -- and yes airports and toes do count!?
The real deal? In 1989, there was a one-off race around the world on public transport called the Human Race (full disclosure my partner and I won that event in 17 days). Of course, since the turn of the century we have had CBS's reality TV show The Amazing Race to enjoy -- the ultimate reality game show with cash and prizes for those carefully cast participants who are lucky enough to complete an array of prearranged stunts. (It is fun, but is it real? I think not).
And that brings us to The Global Scavenger Hunt and the crowning of The World's Greatest Travelers. The current champions, a father-son team hail from Canada, who beat out a hearty couple from New Zealand, who beat out three-time defending champs from the United States. Truly international (participants from over 50 countries have applied), truly open to all comers, and truly the travel event of the year, celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2014.
Stay tuned, Huffington Post readers. You get a ring-side seat and will get blow-by-blow daily dispatches on the ground from 10 secret and exotic to be announced countries around the world beginning April 11th.
The world championship of travel is coming. I know, you're yelling out, "I could do that!"