Well, The Amazing Race did it again. Just when we thought we’d seen everything in 29 seasons of this show, they went and switched things up in an epic way that has us all hooked. Again.
Let’s back up a second though, shall we? On Thursday night’s welcome mat, host Phil Keoghan greeted 22 perfect strangers. He then informed them of this season’s big twist: they’d each be paired up with people they’ve never met in their lives to travel across nine countries, 17 cities and 36,000 miles together. Talk about a stress test.
So who were these people? They seemed to come from all walks of life. There was a model, a Wall Street analyst, a female firefighter (and a female drill sergeant!), a veteran, a rock climbing instructor and a butcher with a self-professed IQ of 140, to name a few.
Of course, they weren’t all perfectly matched by the time Phil said “Go,” but most of them made the best of their situation. Based on this first leg of The Race, here are five travel tips we learned.
1. First impressions matter
Whether you’re travelling with someone you know or a perfect stranger, we all make snap judgments. Which is why you should always at least try to be on your best behaviour. Not only will it help when you’re in a foreign country, but it also proved to be super important on Thursday’s premiere of the show, since contestants picked their teammates on exactly that: snap judgments.
“I don’t want to be paired with Asian Barbie,” Jessie told the cameras about Jenn, proving our point. “She’s only here because she thinks she looks good.”
2. Travel with someone who has more charm than you
Nothing is more stressful than travelling to a foreign country where you don’t know your way around, people are speaking a different language and you have a penchant for getting lost. It’s kind of like the ultimate fish out of water situation.
That’s why, whenever possible, you want to try and travel with someone who has more charm than you do. That way when you’ve got your sourpuss stressy face on, your travel buddy can pick you up. Or at the very least convince the locals that you’re worth helping.
“I can be a pain in the ass,” Michael explained, telling cameras he wanted to be paired with someone charming for exactly that reason.
3. Create an awesome hashtag
We all know that social media is the wave of the future — everyone’s doing it. So if you want to have an epic travel adventure, be sure to create an equally epic hashtag to use on social media. That way everyone who’s following along at home can get nice and jealous of your trip.
Some of our favourite team offerings of the night included Team #LongHairDontCare (Jenn and Kevin), #TeamAmerica (Seth and Olive), #TeamFun (Becca and Flyod) and #TeamSandSExpress (Shamir and Sara). Obviously, we’re just #TeamHashtag over here.
4. Know your local landmarks
The very first country on this season’s docket was Panama. And the very first place the teams had to find? The Panama Canal. We’ve all heard of the popular landmark, yet every single team got lost trying to find it. The lesson? If you’re travelling abroad and want to see the sites, be sure to actually map out where you’re going in advance. Or at the very least learn how to ask where you’re going in the native language.
And no, Jenn, getting drunk does not mean that you’ll learn that language faster. At least not while you’re in the heat of the moment.
5. Sometimes you need to freak out
If The Amazing Race has taught us anything it’s that everyone fights. Except, oddly enough, Kevin and Jenn. After getting lost for about three hours and staying as calm, cool and collected as they come, Team #LongHairDontCare moseyed on down to the finish line with a two-hour time penalty (that they had to incur when it became too dark for them to safely compete in the rowing challenge). That lackadaisical attitude certainly landed them in last place, and thus they were eliminated.
“We didn’t fight and that was our downfall,” Jenn explained, pointing out that had one of them become upset it might have given them the push they needed.
Too bad, so sad. We kind of liked watching the Asian “sisters” and wanted them to stick around a while longer. But, those are the cards and now we can’t wait to see what happens next.