The Awesome Inspiration of The Amazing Race

“Scott & Bernie, You are the first team to arrive.”

If I had a dollar for every time I have imagined myself on the television show The Amazing Race I may have enough funds to actually finance my upcoming round-the-world trip. Usually it was my sister Renee I would imagine globe-sprinting with, other times it was my Dad, brother-in-law, or a girlfriend. Travel inspiration comes in all shapes, sizes, and time slots and The Amazing Race is without a doubt one of the biggest travel inspirations I have ever had.

The first time I ever heard of the television show The Amazing Race was purely by happenstance.  The date was early September 2001 and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Entertainment section happened to be lying on the coffee table. On the front page there was an article about an upcoming new “reality” show. At the time, the genre was new and exciting and the image on the page seduced me right away. It was two contestants running across a bridge in the misty shadow of Victoria Falls. Immediately I was intrigued enough to pick up the paper. As I read about the show and how cast members would race around the world all the while completing tasks I decided it was more than worth trying to figure out how to set the VCR for the premier episode. After naturally not being able to figure out how to set the VCR, I decided to check out the live airing. That decision has had an enormous impact on the rest of my travel life.

When I viewed the show, what I saw blew open my eyes and imagination. The backpacks, the airports, the landmarks, the trains, the ferries, this was the exhilarating life that I was certain I wanted eventually! I always knew I wanted to see the world, but at twenty-four years old still never had come across an image to go with the words and thoughts. The Amazing Race served as my first small peak into what world travel “looked like’. The foreign cabs & airports, the stress, the rushing to catch trains & planes, the local people you rely on for help, all of this was tantalizing to my inspired eyes.

In addition to pulling back the curtain on the world travel scene, The Amazing Race introduced me to many locales I was oblivious to prior to hitting record. As the years went by and the VCR changed into a DVR and I finally left the couch for the airport these places dotted my European backpacking itineraries. It also seemed I was always crossing paths with filming locations. Munich’s English Garden and it’s “Surfer’s Wave”, The ice bar at the Nordic Sea Hotel in Stockholm, Buda’s hilltop Eger Castle, Jet d’ Eau in Geneva and Belem tower in Lisbon are just a few of the places where I have stopped and said “Oh yeah, the race was here.” Furthermore, when my new travel friend Jeremy and I made a train transfer in Vienna from one end of town to the other in under ten minutes and my heart almost beat out of my chest upon making my train, I looked up and said “now I know what it feels like to be on The Amazing Race.“ Every time I approach a stranger in another country with a smile and ask for a little help, I know what it feels like to be on The Amazing Race as well.

As I look over the list of countries internationally that I have a strong desire to add to my upcoming round-the-world itinerary, I do notice a common theme: many of them were featured on The Amazing Race. These first impressions the show gave me of Botswana, Namibia, Chile, Mauritius and others has not faded over time and I can’t wait to stand there with the same feelings I have had in Europe.

Unfortunately, I can never really be on The Amazing Race. No, I don't secretly have a fear of bungee jumping or have a restraining order on me for stalking host Phil Keoghan. No, In fact I actually worked briefly for CBS last year and thus am sadly ineligible to ever be cast on the show.

But I do have the next best thing: I get to act out my amazing inspiration next year.