Competitive travel used to mean one-upping your neighbors with an exotic holiday tale. Now it’s about challenging them to outpace you in person. Whether inspired by game apps or reality television, sightseeing has turned competitive in a variety of ways. Get your game on in 14 cities (including Boston, Chicago and Las Vegas) with Stray Boots (www.strayboots.com
), an interactive scavenger hunt that uses text-messaging to exchange clues and answers. The neighborhood-focused itineraries — such as Hollywood or San Francisco’s Chinatown — cost $12 and take two to three hours to complete.
In New York or one of five Italian cities, including Florence, Rome and Venice, solve a fictional mystery while you take in the sights via Whaiwhai (www.whaiwhai.com/en
). Players start by reading parts of a story in a guidebook (about $22, depending on location), then seek out hidden corners of the city as directed via the app or texts to search for clues that will solve the mystery several hours — and locations — later. And next summer, set aside 10 days to travel with Competitours (www.competitours.com
). Mimicking The Amazing Race, teams of two face off in daily challenges across four or five European countries. Contestants choose from up to six challenges daily — in Bologna, for example, you make tiramisu without a recipe — and videotape their efforts. The goal is to outscore your opponents on creativity and resourcefulness rather than speed. The top three teams divide $9,000 in prize money, and, if you’re the betting type, it just may pay for the trip, which starts around $2,975 per person.