The Amazing Race is the ultimate globe-hopping challenge. But if you think it’s hard work for the contestants, try stepping into host Phil Keoghan’s (well-worn) shoes.
WHEN DOES PHIL KEOGHAN, the New Zealand–born host of The Amazing Race, ever get to just stand still? When he’s waiting to greet teams at the end of a daylong cross-country race leg. That’s about it. But the 41-year-old thrill seeker loves the opportunities to see the world that the show has allowed him.
Between his day job of chasing contestants from country to country, travel for other work pursuits, and personal trips, Keoghan logged nearly 400,000 miles in 2008 alone. Luckily, he found a minute to speak with us about the CBS hit show and what it takes to endure life on the go.
In 13 seasons, you’ve visited more than 70 countries. What’s your schedule like? We shoot every single day that we’re on the road, and the last season took about 23 days. We never have downtime. We never know what the separation is going to be between the first team and the last team [completing each leg]. One time, it was 19 hours.
Is it painful for you to have to spend so little time in these places? You have to enjoy the travel experience from the perspective that you’re getting to see a country you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to see. Prior to this, I had worked in 60 countries, so I don’t ever feel shortchanged. I’ve been working on the road for more than 20 years and traveling extensively since the age of three.
What’s the hardest challenge for Amazing Race teams? Some teams tend to approach everything the way they would at home. They come in with the perception that it’s dangerous to get people’s help or that the natives are not going to understand them or that they’re not going to want to help them. I’ve seen teams just shut down because they get completely overwhelmed.
What advice would you give to travelers with intense schedules like yours? Drink copious amounts of water. I try to stay off caffeine unless I absolutely need something to keep me alert if I’m so exhausted. I go completely cold turkey with alcohol. And get used to sleeping anywhere, anytime, anyhow. I fell asleep once standing in a line. You end up having a lot of little power naps. I swear by them.