Welcome  wordcloud

Welcome to our Shiny New Website!

WOW! It is amazing what the kids are doing these days with websites. You have got to love the technology of it all.

Welcome to globalscavengerhunt.com 3.0. I think back to our first site in 2000…and boy have we evolved and changed.

Our shiny new website took all summer to conceptualize and build. We have added a whole lot of features: new photos, new content, new videos, new maps, and we even have widgets to play with! We have the capacity to be more social and interactive than ever before. And we are excited and hope you are too.

Please look around…make comments…tell your friends. Help us get better too by letting us know if we have any bugs to work out. Or if you have any ideas for us…just say the word and we will yell “Kramer!”

Enjoy and stay tuned…we have some exciting news about 2016 coming soon!

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Too Connected When You Travel?

Admittedly, I am a lucky guy; I get paid to travel the world. As an author, (I am always researching!) but more so as the Event Director for the around the world travel adventure The Global Scavenger Hunt. I am seemingly always on the move, and I notice things.

One awful trend I have watched evolve is the rise of a virtual wall of technology. And the unintended consequences of this techno barrier separates not only travelers from each other, but travelers from the main reasons why we travel in the first place — to immerse ourselves in other cultures and to trust strangers in strange lands.

Let me explain further.

What I have witnessed, be it at hostels, rustic eco-lodges, resorts, chic boutique or upscale 5-star hotels alike, is travelers not so much traveling, but alone immersing themselves in a self-imposed social media e-bubble. Call it the Wi-Fi Lobby.

Decades ago, the grand lobbies of the world’s glamorous hotels were wild scenes–some would say romantic–where fellow travelers from around the world coming and going mingled together. Everyone talked to each other and exchanged ideas, suggestions and winks. You made fast friends and met future mates too…travel and otherwise.

Nowadays, travelers are still hanging in lobbies in far flung destinations, but instead of mingling they cocoon themselves off: Instagraming and Tweeting followers, Skyping or FaceTiming their friends and updating Facebook. In effect, they are maintaining existing cyber space relationships at the expense of kindling real-life new ones. We have traded face-to-face social interaction with remote social networks. The magic of travel dissipates.

Sadly, this e-bubble doesn’t just occur in the lobbies of hotels and hostels around the world. It occurs more frequently now during our travel and explore times too. With Smartphone’s in hand and earbuds firmly inserted, travelers today are living in a post-tourist world where they are only physically there and decidedly not mingling or immersing themselves (asking directions, learning about the destination, listening to indigenous sounds, talking with locals). The immediacy of technology is affecting the travel experience.

Make no mistake, I am no Luddite. The communication and technological advances of the last decade have been nothing short of marvelous and revelatory. Yet, when that technology builds walls between people, instead of breaking them down, it becomes an issue.

We have become dependent on travel apps to tell us what to see and do, where to stay and what to eat and how to get there–rather than actually exploring and discovering those things on our own. There is noticeably less personal interaction. There is a TMI overload (over 17,000+ travel apps…and growing) that leads to an overwhelming type of traveler paralysis. Oddly, the same group that eschews guidebook orthodoxy doesn’t have a problem crowdsourcing information.

It seems that information comfort (or at least the perception of knowing something) has replaced good old fashion DIY independent traveling. Yet real discovery occurs only when you venture outside your comfort zones–exploring terra incognito.

It is hard to get lost when your Smartphone’s GPS won’t let you. It is hard to allow absence make the heart grow fonder when you are connected 24/7. Can’t read the menu? There’s an app for that. Why leave home if you are not going to open yourself up to new tastes, new ideas and new people?

Indeed, the certainty travel apps and our personal electronic devices offer us has replaced sweet serendipity. The essence of traveling.

From where I sit today (in a cafe in Laos) it looks like it will only get worse; with GPS tracking algorithm-based systems like Google Glass and so-called augmented reality (AR) travel apps coming on line offering travelers omnipresent connectivity–a never-ending stream of “vital” information answering your every travel-related question. Indeed they will anticipate your needs. Is remote control tourist next?

So, what to do?

A growing backlash is brewing (aka off the grid vacationing), like the Slow Food Movement of the 80’s backlash against fast foods. It will address the paradox of our era: the more we are connected 24/7, the more we desperately want to unplug. Indeed, we do need to unplug (or at least shut the damn things off for a while and stow them) when traveling, to enjoy the moment and the serendipity of travel.

We will see. What say you?

By William D. Chalmers  – Copyright 2000-2016, GEA, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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10 Politically Incorrect Travel Hacks

People tell me the craziest things. I guess I seem a sympathetic listener? They divulge their best travel tips to me at travel and adventure trade shows across the country, international travel markets, at book signings, and I hear them from fellow travel writers and arm-chair travelers alike. Most are wholly unsolicited. And most of these chestnuts I have of course heard before. Originality is sadly rare in this field. Everyone wants to reinvent the wheel every few editorial cycles it seems.

As the Event Director of the annual world travel championship, The Global Scavenger Hunt, I get to see great travelers in action every year while they interact with the world first hand as they circle the globe over 23-days of the competition. They each have to use their own skill sets, innate travel savvy, chutzpah, and acquired Travel IQ to overcome the challenges we lay before them on a daily basis if they have any hope of winning and being crowned The World’s Greatest Travelers.

Over the last decade, I have noticed that each and every participant comes with their own sure-fire set of tried and true travel tips. But how they compete and how they finish in the event reveals to us whether or not their methods are as tried and true as they believe them to be. And trust me when I tell you that everyone has their own set of travel beliefs.

Of course we all know the commonsense ones, like: Don’t eat where you sleep. Don’t wear shorts riding an elephant. Don’t talk-back to customs or immigration officials. And never present yourself at a car rental desk after a few drinks on the plane. Duh, right?

But here are the ten worst politically incorrect travel hacks that I have personally ever heard over the years presented in David Letterman Top Ten List style for your enjoyment:

10. “If you’re going to buy drugs on the road, buy them from a Westerner not a local!” Okay, but my guess is that you might be being cast in the new reality-television series Locked Up Abroad!

9. “You know Bill, counterfeit hundreds are everywhere. When I get one I either spend it on a hooker, tip really big, or buy something worth $10 to get $90 back.” I see, musical currency.

8. “I always drink and then refill the vodka and gin mini-bar bottles with water, every time!” That explains my water-downed drink last night.

7. “I always get a room at a full hotel or table at a busy restaurant because I flash a $100 bill noticeably in the face of a desk manager or maître di…then when I get what I want, I just smile, say thank you and shove the bill back in my pocket.” And you admit this in public you lousy jerk!

6. “Whenever I can’t find an available hotel room I just head to the Red Light district and make an arrangement with a local sex worker—they always have a room. I don’t have to have sex.” Right, you’ll just play cards; maybe strip poker.

5. “I never pay my mini-bar bill! At checkout I simply say that I did not consume it. I blame it on them: an inadvertent keystroke entry, a restocking issue, maybe the maid drank it or the restocking boy.” Beware: I heard this from a traveling salesman (aka road warrior).

4. “Years ago I used to sew any contraband I didn’t want customs to know about in my kids jackets—they never check kids!” Nice helicopter parenting here—to get them out of jail!

3. “Once I was running late for a flight and couldn’t find a parking space, so I just left the car at the terminal departure curb. Yes, it got towed away, but it was cheaper than missing my flight.” A smart business calculation if I ever heard.

2. “Whenever I check a bag I always pack a starters pistol in it. Hasn’t been mishandled.” Remind me to never fly with you!

1. “When I travel I don’t make eye contact and never talk to strangers, you can’t trust anybody traveling.” WTF!? If you can’t trust strangers in strange lands why travel? But, the avoiding eye contact works really well jaywalking in Manhattan. I am just saying…

So, what are the worst pieces of travel advice you ever heard?

By William D. Chalmers – Copyright 2000-2016, GEA, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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The World’s Greatest Travelers of 2015 are…

The end is near…of the adventure that is.

The teams all checked in on time at the Biscayne Bay-front Blue Water café (thank you William!) for at the conclusion of our Miami leg for the 2015 crowning ceremony of The World’s Greatest Travelers.

We were pleased to have some surprise Global Scavenger Hunt alum come out; Margarita and Demetrius (aka Miami in the Mix) and Michael Roberts (aka Traveling Tigers), participants of our 2013 event. After handing out teams their “I survived…” t-shirts tallying the Miami leg score sheets, the ceremony began…

The first order of business was to name the winner of annual player’s pool. In Los Angeles at the Bon Voyage party we asked everyone to guess which countries they would be visiting on their Blind Date with the World. It is always entertaining for us to see their guesses. This year the winning number was 4 of 10 (actually a good year as percentages go!) and it was tie split between Jim and Erik who split the pot.

Then we had to honor the team that stayed in the cheapest hotel room on the 3rd day of the European leg with a fine bottle of French champagne. The winners stayed in a US$46 (not Euro) room in Montpellier, France—the Sydney Sisters showed their true commitment earning an extra 100 points as well as some bubbly.

Each participant the received an official and individualized Circumnavigator’s Certificate honoring their achievement of circling the globe in one trip. For one traveler it was their 13th such trip. Others counted their 8th and a few others weighted in with 6 and few with four. All serious achievements, too bad there is no real organization to join other than our own fraternity and that honors Enrique of Malacca (Magellan’s room boy) as the first to circumnavigate the globe in 1521.

Then we announced the winners of the Miami leg (Par 1)…as it had no bearing on the final results only bragging rights were involved. And just as the Sydney Sisters defended their nation’s pride in winner the home court Melbourne leg, an America team dug down deep to protect the home turf. It was somewhat a surprise because the Sydney Sisters were looking for a first ever event clean sweep from start to finish. But it was not to be as Buns and Bird completed one more scavenge finally breaking through and earning first place in the Miami leg. Good job guys, we all know you worked hard to make it happen today. (BTW: I would be neglect if I did not bring up the fact that 2004 event we held was actually won on the last day when one team left one scavenge uncompleted! Yep, we still remember that—and we are sure they do too!)

Before the main event however, we honored the primary reason that this event is held each year—to help others help themselves through the efforts of the Great Escape Foundation’s work. We are not one’s to hit people over the head with charitable giving as we truly believe that anonymous giving is always the most noble giving…but please indulge me for a minute as I boast about our Foundation. We started the GreatEscape Foundation well over a decade ago, and over the years some of our teams have personally visited and helped out worthy causes at: Tibetan refugee camps in Nepal, orphanages in Laos, hospitals in Cambodia, homeless schools India, hospices in Manila, disabled facilities in Sri Lanka, and more…
For some, those efforts have been life changing. (In fact, Margarita the alum with us just came back from performing a month’s worth of volunteer work in Cambodia as a direct result of her doing the same for a few hours back in 2013!)We have done some great things over the years too funding ten schools: 1 in Niger, 1 in Ecuador, and 1 in India, 2 in Sri Lanka, 2 in Sierra Leone, and 3 in Kenya…we know we are changing the lives of thousands of kids—especially young girls! And we have help build the Tamensa Medical Clinic in Niger for migrating Tuareg nomads…and a Nurse training center there too… again, we know that we saved lives and have bettered the lives of hundreds. With the Foundation’s microloan efforts, we have helped over 1300 families in more than 55 countries to date too—mostly women/mother entrepreneurs. And this year, as a direct result of this event, we will do more…including helping out the victims of the tragic Nepali earthquake—a country we have visited twice in the past. Good job to all that assisted and thank you to all that have given.

Finally, we all know The Global Scavenger Hunt is the world travel championship, and like any competition with a trophy and prize attached, one Team has to win. So without further ado…The Miami leg of course did not affect our standings coming out of Europe and Colombia, and that means that:

In 3rd Place: Are just great wonderful travelers who for eight consecutive years now have truly embrace the spirit in which we created this event back in 2000…it being all about site-doing…about trusting strangers in strange lands…about going for it…and about getting out of our comfortable default positions and daily routines. Zoe and Rainey are four time champions and last year’s defending champions…but they are champions no more…we all know them as Lawyers without Borders (Zoe and Rainey)! Congrats on third place—you have medaled in each and every year you have participated.

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Lawyers without Borders (Zoe & Rainey), Defending champs no more…3rd place in 2015.

In 2nd Place: Another team we have all really grown fond of on this 2015 adventure…a team that also embraced what this event is all about; they worked hard, kept on coming with energy and joy…and had a lot of fun doing it too…they were both always easy with their smiles and welcoming in conversations…in second place is a team with true travel bona fides no one can question—Buns & Bird (Tania & Mickey)! Great job you guys, proud of you both!

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Buns & Bird (Mickey & Tania) not only newlyweds and 2nd place finishers…but #1 in our hearts!

And of course that means that the Sydney Sisters (Fiona & Katrina) have fully redeemed themselves from their 2012 second place (always a bride maid) showing…they almost swept the event from the first leg to last…they just never stopped…but we know they had an amazing time and earned this trophy with their hard work…and I am pleased that they are the winners, the worthy winners of the 2015 world travel championships we know as The Global Scavenger Hunt…who can now call themselves The World’s Greatest Travelers for 2015! A tremendous achievement and one they should both be very proud of…amazing job both of you!

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The Sydney Sisters (Katrina & Fiona), bridesmaids no more...The World’s Greatest Travelers for 2015.

And that concludes the 2015 edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt. We hope you all had the time of your lives for the last 23-days…some of you will be back we know. And to those that we won’t be traveling again with, both Pamela and I thank you for joining us on our 11th edition of our travel adventure. Thank you all!

Our Winners Gala dinner will be held this evening at Miami’s #1 restaurant Toro Toro. There we will share some fun 9and I am sure not son funny) taxi driver jokes. We will see if any team enlisted more than 28 modes of public transportation during their participation—the 2009 record! We see who obtained the World’s Tackiest Souvenir. Who had the best Global Price Index and best Travel Collection?

I will post one more blog in the coming days summing the 2015. Until then, thank you all.

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