We are off to....

Teams all checked in at 5PM after an exhilarating day of site-doing here in Vancouver. Smiles, tired feet, stories to tell already…

So while we will be flying across the International Dateline (and losing a day in the time/space transaction that is inter-continental transportation in the 21st century), now might be a good time, the calm before the storm so to speak, to answer the burning question that has been asked many times over the last few days: Just what makes for good teammates in this travel adventure competition event? Good question. Here's what I have to say about that…

Teammates come in all shapes, sizes and dispositions. We have travelers that work just great together and gel; and, we have travelers that are wholly dysfunctional and just waiting to crash and burn. It is the human condition. It is life. Some relationships work, some not so much…but they are relationships nonetheless.

NOT a living four-legged beast!


Is this?


So then, teammates vary as humans vary; some are AM early birds, some nocturnal PM creatures; some use their logical left-brain where others maximize their intuitive right-brain; some folks can survive on a single meal a day, others have 24-hour snack metabolism needs; some of us are loners and some of us our people people;  there are of course leaders amongst us as there are happy followers…some of us always over-pack and are ready for any contingency, while others always seem to under-pack and get a tad needy (Sorry I regress…)

I think you get the point. They key to functioning well as a team in this travel adventure competition is simple:  be self aware and be honestly aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. That goes a long way, especially when traveling, because in my experience, to paraphrase that great Danish fiction writer Peter Hoeg: Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions. It is the great unpredictable reality that is life on the move in foreign environments, being fish out of water and somehow not drowning!

That said, our teams interpersonal skill sets will be challenged on a multitude of levels during this 23-day around the world travel marathon through 24-time zones to exotic and sometimes less than optimally functioning destinations. Not only because it will be necessary for them to trust strangers in strange lands while accomplishing their highly participatory scavenges; but more importantly, because they will have to have maintain a positive and constructive 24/7 working relationship with their fellow teammate—whether they are in Topeka or Timbuktu.

Vacation personalities, travel styles and interests obviously vary among us homo touristicus. So, having a compatible teammate is important and being patient, compassionate and showing empathy for each other is critical. No one, especially us, want any reality-TV show-like unnecessary drama, hurt feelings, fights, on-the-road breakups, or potential divorces when they get home.
 

They key as I mention is being aware of your differences:
● Are you AM people, or PM people? How will you overcome those differences?
● Are you competitive Type A planners, or more laid back Type B free-spirits? How will you find a happy functioning balance?
● Are you people people or loners? Which of you is best equipped to deal with and be kind to strangers?
● Are you a three-square meals a day type, or a 24-hour-a-day snack-type eater? How will you compromise when energy and blood sugar levels start getting low?
● Are you left-brained, or right-brained? Can it be managed?
● Are you a natural leader, or follower? How will you make tough decisions and compromises when you are both right? Will it be a fair decision?
● Are you planners, or seat-of-the-pants spontaneous wanderer types? How will you manage that? Can you manage to be early and on time, or will you be always rushing at the last minute?
● Are comfortable silences okay with both of you?
● How will the other react when one of you just needs some simple non-dramatic alone time?

And some other more practical different personality-type include:

● Are you a frugal traveler or a nothing-but-the-best type? How will you deal with on-the-road expenses? 50/50 each transaction? Or keep a tab?

● How will you split duties and create a successful division of labor? Packing, logistics, transactions, safety, currency exchanges, food & water?

● How do you make a consensus decision when you both have diametrically opposed views?

Hopefully everyone will be aware or at least rally and gain a type of "us against the world" functionality. Because, as Mark Twain says: "I have found out that there ain’t any surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” Indeed…good luck all!

A Proven Formula for Success? (Compliments of Team Heackarewe)

Oh yeah…I forgot…We are off to Osaka, Japan! More after we arrive Monday.


Please friend/like/follow us on Facebook...we will attempt to add Twitter insight (in 140 characters or less!?) and YouTube-like vines (6 second clips) if possible along the way.  I will also be writing periodic Huffington Post pieces along the way as well. So stay tuned.

Finally, remember that The Global Scavenger Hunt has always been about more than traveling around the world competing for The World's Greatest Travelers crown in the world travel championship... it is about helping others help themselves through the GreatEscape Foundation. This year, to celebrate our event's 10th anniversary, our goal is to fund 10 schools in places that really need them. Co-ed elementary schools at that. So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week and make a small one-time $25 online donation during the course of the 2014 event, we know a lot of kids needing an education that would thank you. Thank you all, because we all know that every little bit helps out a lot. (FYI: All individual donation names will be put in a hat and on May 3rd we will select a winner for a special fun prize—it will be worth much more than your $25+ donation!). Thank you!

 

Saturday in the Park...

Good Morning All -

After a great seafood-centric Bon Voyage Party at the Coast Restaurant, the participants started eyeing yours truly around 9PM for marching orders. Most teams have flown in from different time zones and are a tad jet-lagged, ye the excitement of it all are keeping them lively; so there was a great buzz of anticipation in the air: Where would be our first secret destination? When would we be flying? Would we be staying the night here in Vancouver? Can I get another one of those chocolate-covered toffee pieces? Who wants another nightcap? Questions, questions…

We then gave due notice to all that tomorrow (err, today…Saturday) would include an all-day orientation scavenger hunt leg here in Vancouver. So, after a mostly peaceful sleep in Vancouver’s tallest building that houses our hotel—the Zen-like Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver--we reconvened at 9:00AM sharp to begin.

Here is the before 2014 group photo:

(Always a little like herding cats...)

And so teams will have the opportunity today, before we get into a foreign environment, to see just how our minds work and how the game is to be played. This is an easy Par 1 9-5PM urban scavenger hunt in a world class city where everything works and everyone speaks English. Teams can get their feet wet (literally) doing scavenges and begin getting in the groove of being in perpetual motion quickly. I am sure there will be a lot of questions at our 5PM check-in.

ABOUT VANVOUVER:

We all pretend (those of us that spend a lot of time here) that Vancouver  with its mild temperatures--not too hot in summer or too cold in winter--and its spectacular location on Canada's Pacific Coast, is an amazing modern urban world-class city. It can be. Personally, for good or bad, I liken it to a Goldilocks City…one that has no edges, no extremes, somewhere in between a great city like San Francisco and an up an comer like Austin. Clearly, Vancouver wins accolades as one of the world's most livable cities: it is clean and beautiful, very international (53% of residents do not speak English as their first language and 35% of Vancouver's population is foreign born--the highest figure in the world!), the quality of life is good, and it thinks vertical (high-density urban living) and mostly works (just don’t drive downtown at rush hour as there are NO freeways anywhere to ease congestion!). That said, for someone who travels a lot, in spite of all it’s great scenery and flowers, it is rather vanilla—I happen to like vanilla don’t get me wrong—but it is quiet, polite, modest, easy-going and sublime (all in a good way!) In essence, it is Canadian through and through. And that is a good thing too.



That said, our teams will be busy today trying to complete at least nine scavenges before our 5PM check-in that will have them span out across Vancouver’s snowcapped mountains (Grouse, Seymour and Cypress) and out on the backdrop of its crystal blue harbors. They will walk across bridges, take subways, sky-trains and ferries (our personal favorite), bike though the grand urban oasis we call Stanley Park, drink beer, eat poutine and find out what a Japdog is…all in all, the makings of a great day having fun in a great city on a balmy sunny day. Before we head off to…

Stay tuned...more later today!

Please friend/like/follow us on Facebook...we will attempt to add Twitter insight (in 140 characters or less!?) and YouTube-like vines (6 second clips) if possible along the way.  I will also be writing periodic Huffington Post pieces along the way as well. So stay tuned.

Finally, remember that The Global Scavenger Hunt has always been about more than traveling around the world competing for The World's Greatest Travelers crown in the world travel championship... it is about helping others help themselves through the GreatEscape Foundation. This year, to celebrate our event's 10th anniversary, our goal is to fund 10 schools in places that really need them. Co-ed elementary schools at that. So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week and make a small one-time $25 online donation during the course of the 2014 event, we know a lot of kids needing an education that would thank you. Thank you all, because we all know that every little bit helps out a lot. (FYI: All individual donation names will be put in a hat and on May 3rd we will select a winner for a special fun prize—it will be worth much more than your $25+ donation!).Thank you!

 

The 2014 Tribe of Travelers

Welcome all!

We have yet another great around the world travel adventure competition in store for you over the next three weeks. So, let us begin...


The woulda, shoulda, coulda's don't matter. Next year rarely happens. We've heard the myriad of excuses...and the pretenders are no more.

As usual, only serious contenders make it to the starting line. Let me introduce the world to the 13 teams competing in 2014 travel world championship, the 10th edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt™. Joining us in 2014 we have:

1) The defending The World's Greatest Travelers™ title-holders, hailing from nearby here in British Columbia, a father/son Team, Gerry & Phil (The Ogopogos) (BTW: Congrats to Phil & Brittany...on your new daughter Amelia Mae born March 11th);

2) Next up, are three time former event champs--2009, 2010 & 2011 (and a 2nd place in 2008 and a 3rd place in 2012 too)--who are participating in their 7th event this year, from Houston, Texas, Zoe & Rainey (Lawyers without Borders);
 
3) We have, April & Travis (The Wanderers), from Austin, Texas who are participating for the 3rd time;

4) Also back for the third time, from Houston, Texas, David & Natasha (Team Silver Surfers);

5) And back for the third time participating with her older brother and event rookie, from Pensacola, Florida are Emily & Rainy Jr (Team Sister Act Two). BTW: Emily has three different partners on this event--Is this the year?

6) Then we are pleased to have back have a real dynamic duo that needed to come back for more after participating last year, Kim & Maria...affectionately known as the (The Retired Traveling Chicks).

7) Also, from last year, rebranded and ready for more, we have Erik & Casey (The Odd Couple) from Austin, Texas.

8) Then we have a mix n' match team, both second timers but with new partners, Angel & Jordan (Team Matzah Burrito)...Angel had a 23-day long smile on his face while participating in 2012!
 

Now the five newbie Teams...

11) First up, we have an old high school friend of mine (some of you might remember meeting him in Toronto last year) who is partnered with his wife from Ontario, Canada, Dan & Leslie (Team Heckarewee);

10) I like the make-up of this team, a mother and son team from Houston, Texas, Bettina & Johnathan (Team Bare Necessities);

11) A team that learned about the event reading one of my articles on the Huffington Post that has known each other for six years and hail from the East Coast, Michele & Vincent (The Geo Trekers);
 
12) Next, we have a couple Pamela and I met at the San Jose Travel & Adventure Show, they live and work in the Bay Area...Barbara & Dan (Team Carry On)...BTW: she's a physician and he's a computer consultant, and I hear for a reasonable fee they are available for consultations during the trip;
 
13) And last, but certainly not least, we have a husband and wife team from Las Vegas, Lucy & Peter (Team Chengdu Emily).

Welcome all of you...this year's competitors for The World's Greatest Travelers crown!

We expect to get to know everyone a little better this evening as folks start letting their hair down a little at our Bon Voyage Party after our Rules & Regulations orientation meeting. Stay tuned to insider info, gossip, photos, videos and more...

Please friend/like/follow us on Facebook...we will attempt to add Twitter insight (in 140 characters or less!?) and YouTube-like vines (6 second clips) if possible along the way.  I will also be writing periodic Huffington Post pieces along the way as well. So stay tuned.

Finally, remember that The Global Scavenger Hunt has always been about more than traveling around the world competing for The World's Greatest Travelers crown in the world travel championship... it is about helping others help themselves through the GreatEscape Foundation. This year, to celebrate our event's 10th anniversary, our goal is to fund 10 schools in places that really need them. Co-ed elementary schools at that. So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week and make a small one-time $25 online donation during the course of the 2014 event, we know a lot of kids needing an education that would thank you. Thank you all, because we all know that every little bit helps out a lot. (FYI: All individual donation names will be put in a hat and on May 3rd we will select a winner for a special fun prize—it will be worth much more than your $25+ donation!).Thank you!

 

Twas the night before...

Twas the night before....well, it is the night before the 2014 travel world championships start in Vancouver, Canada! Teams are assembling from various destinations and flying into YVR in order to meet up at the starting gate tomorrow at 4PM (16:00) for the start of The Global Scavenger Hunt—the 10th anniversary of the annual around the world travel adventure competition that ultimately crowns The World's Greatest Travelers™.

So, let the games begin...

My name is William Chalmers, and I will be this blog's narrator over the next 24-days as we circle the globe visiting 10 still secret destinations.

What is at stake for those participating in this travel adventure? Well, as mentioned, only The World's Greatest Travelers™ crown and trophy...and oh yea, a free trip around the world to defend your title in the next event. I hear bragging rights mean a lot too!

It is often asked, by prospective competitors, fellow travelers I meet, the media and travel professionals, just what does it take to be crowned The World’s Greatest Travelers? That is, what does it take to win The Global Scavenger Hunt...to win the travel world championships? That is a great question.

In a nut shell, the annual event challenges our travelers Travel IQ, situational awareness and logistical savvy. But there is a lot to that, including:

-mastering the art of a layover;
-efficiently getting from point A to point B when you are limited to public transportation;
-figuring out how to communicate when your native tongue fails;
-overcoming the marathon effects of jet lag through 24-time zones over 23-days;
-open to culinary challenges;
-sympathetic to cultural nuances;
-conquering potentially defeating team dynamics;
-standing up to the heat of competition:
-properly strategizing the event's risk/reward point system;
-allowing yourself to be immersed in authentic, challenging and participatory site-doing scavenges;
-...and not minding traveling the world for three weeks without knowing just where you are going next!

In a nutsehll, it takes a lot! Winning The Global Scavenger Hunt takes a big travel tool kit and acquired skill set; it takes luck, savvy, stamina, wits, creativity, efficiency, hope and optimitism.

Because from language barriers and cultural differences, to logistic snafus and severe jet lag, overcoming each set of challenges well becomes the difference between just surviving the event, doing well in the competition, and ultimately winning the coveted crown.

Over the years we have witnessed countless acts of tenacity and creativity on the part of our travelers in the name of performing their highly-participatory scavenges. We have watched teams, equally successfully—and not so successfully— endure our quick three-week lap around the world. Some do well, some don't. This travel adventure competition requires overcoming a lot of challenges, not the least of which are potentially volatile internal team dynamics, as well as, the obvious heat of the competition itself.

Based on our personal observations of former participants over the last nine events—both winners and losers alike—we have concluded that whatever team is to eventually be crowned the 2014 version of The World’s Greatest Traveler on May 3rd at the conclusion of our 23-day circumnavigation of globe, will have the following skill sets:

● the ability to admit that they are hopelessly lost—and then humbly ask for help;
● the cautious use of honest shoe-checks—and always having a temple shoe bag with them;
● knowing how and when to trust those short hairs standing alert on the back of your neck;
● the uncanny knack of never asking locals simple up/down, yes/no types of questions;
● the capacity for promptly identifying and quickly resolving any team dispute fairly;
● the ability to conduct on-the-fly problem solving in ever-changing contexts;
● the good common sense to start each day early (with a good breakfast!)—even after drinking late;
● a flair for packing quickly, effectively, and very, very lightly;
● the sagacity of asking the appropriate questions—before getting untimely lost;
● possessing the time-honored virtues: patience, compassion, stick-to-it-iveness, honesty and fairness;
● the wisdom to say enough is enough and letting go;
● the luck of the Irish;
● the politeness of a Canadian;
● the efficiency of a German;
● the chutzpah of an American;
● the wisdom that goes with understanding that "he who runs cannot walk with dignity"; 
● juggling effectively the need for flexibility, organization, scheduling and contingency planning;
● the self-awareness to know when to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the sunset—behind you;
● the gracious capacity and wisdom to listen, really listen, to others while they are talking;
● having the personal resolve it takes to regularly take several deep breaths while counting to ten;
● being a bit of a thrill-seeker and calculated risk-taker, who’s up for any challenge once—big or small;
● the good sense of always having some emergency toilet paper handy;
● knowing that when all else fails, the discrete application of a few bucks can sometimes facilitate;
● the innate gift for happily grabbing on to serendipitous opportunities when they arise out of the blue;
● the intuitive use of situational awareness to ward off potential pitfalls lying before you;
● knowing that you get out of things what you put into them: truly, nothing ventured, nothing gained;
● the fearlessness of adventurer Indiana Jones;
● the curiosity of Nancy Drew;
● the patience, tolerance, compassion and empathy of the Dali Lama;
● an excellent, timely, and regular utilization of your sense of humor;
● the wisdom to look for, and readily accept, the underlying good in all things; and,
● the capacity to be regularly humbled.

Oh yes, and the great ability to loosen up and have fun...while not take anything—including yourself—too seriously; because after all, The Global Scavenger Hunt is just a really big international game! Good luck all.

Tomorrow we meet our teams...stay tuned!
______________________________________
Please friend/like/follow us on Facebook...we will attempt to add Twitter insight (in 140 characters or less!?) and YouTube-like vines (6 second clips) if possible along the way.  I will also be writing periodic Huffington Post pieces along the way as well. So stay tuned.

Finally, remember that The Global Scavenger Hunt has always been about more than traveling around the world competing for The World's Greatest Travelers crown in the world travel championship... it is about helping others help themselves through the GreatEscape Foundation. This year, to celebrate our event's 10th anniversary, our goal is to fund 10 schools in places that really need them. Co-ed elementary schools at that. So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week and make a small one-time $25 online donation during the course of the 2014 event, we know a lot of kids needing an education that would thank you. Thank you all, because we all know that every little bit helps out a lot. (FYI: All individual donation names will be put in a hat and on May 3rd we will select a winner for a special fun prize—it will be worth much more than your $25+ donation!). Thank you!
 

One Week Until the Travel World Championship begins!

And what is at stake....not counting bragging rights and a free trip around the world to defend your title?


The Trophy of course for The World's Greatest Travelers...2014 edition!

....Are you ready?