Journey around the world while still at home with a DIY Amazing Race (2023)

You might not be able to journey around the world with Phil Keoghan, but you can create an awesome DIY Amazing Race at home to battle the boredom and inspire some creativity. Right now, I don’t feel genuine writing about destinations since any travel outside your home may be months from happening and irresponsible.

However, I still want to incite the joy of travel and dreaming of new places, so we have been busting hum-drum days with travel-related activities at home like puzzles, board games and virtual tours of our national parks, museums and other cool sites around the world.

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You’ve read it here before, and you will read it again. Our family LOVES The Amazing Race (TAR), the TV show where teams of two race around the world, doing challenges and competitions until there’s a winner. In fact, we might even be a bit obsessed with it. I’ve interviewed Season 31 winner Christie Woods about tips for traveling with families; we’ve hosted an Amazing Race birthday party; and my 10-year old has watched every season multiple times. In fact, one of his birthday gifts was a CAMEO message from one of his favorite competitors, one-half of Team Fun, Becca Droz. It was epic! Cameo is a cool site where you can pay celebrities to send a personalized videotaped message.

For a travel-loving family, what’s not to love – super cool challenges performed all over the world, learning some culture and a competition for a million dollars. Sign us up!

With no big party planned due to coronavirus, I wanted to do something fun and memorable for my son’s 10th birthday, so I created a DIY Amazing Race. I made it quite involved because of our special occasion. Note: it took me six to seven hours to plan it the way I did, but you could easily do it with less time involved and fanfare and still make it super fun.

Step 1: Decide where to have your activities

We’re lucky to live in an awesome neighborhood with awesome neighbors who let us use their mailboxes and basketball goals as “world destinations”, but we also used our yard, porch and patio as well as the grounds of the school that’s right behind our house as our places to do our challenges.

Step 2: Determine what challenges to have and what your destinations will be

For our DIY Amazing Race, it was quite involved, so instead of going from point A to point B, we went from Jakarta, Indonesia to Bangkok, Thailand to Cuzco, Peru, etc. At some spots, we did challenges that were related to the location. See below for details.

There are dozens of ideas for challenges on Pinterest — look for “Minute to Win It” type activities as well as backyard games or scavenger hunts for ideas.

To keep it simple, we didn’t distinguish between Detours and Road Blocks as they do on The Amazing Race, and just had challenges that both of our boys could do at each stop.

DIY Amazing Race Challenges:

  1. Jakarta, Indonesia: Taste a Rainbow. For this challenge, we put out five cups with five different beverages in them and blindfolded the boys. They had to correctly identify the drinks to move on to their next clue. Juices work really well because they were somewhat hard to figure out. Apple juice and white grape are very similar in taste, according to my two competitors.
  2. Bangkok, Thailand: Find the Smile. On this one, I put out 16 disposable cups, but only two had smiley faces drawn on the bottom. Cheerios, Skittles and raisins covered the bottom of the cup (just enough to cover it), and they had to eat the item to see if the cup they chose had a smiley face. They had to eat the contents of each cup until they found the smiley face. Nate only had three cups, but poor Alex had five or six!
  3. London, England: Draw a Masterpiece. The boys had to follow a video my niece created step-by-step to draw a panda with wings.
  4. Paris, France: Tube de Piscine de Cone (Pool tube around a cone) We created a carnival type game using two donut pool inflatables that the boys had to throw onto some cones.
  5. Athens, Greece: Torch Run for the Olympics. They ran one loop around a track holding a flashlight like a torch (this was my favorite).
  6. Cuzco, Peru: Easter Egg Hunt – we hid a bunch of Easter eggs but they had to find one of only three that had an Amazing Race flag in it.
  7. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Shake it like a Samba. I made some “shakers” out of two aluminum cans. I put Skittles in one can and they had to shake all of them into the other can – harder than it looks!
  8. New York City, USA: Sing on Broadway. My nephew made a video of him teaching the boys a few lines from a son. They had to sing it properly before moving to the finale.
  9. Indianapolis, IN – the FINALE. Before running to the mat (which I made with chalk on our driveway), they had to tell me all eight locations in order.


Also, some destinations were obvious like the front porch, but others made them search for a race flag or solve a problem to determine where they needed to go. For example, I made up a math problem that correlated to a neighbor’s house number and they had to figure out that that’s what the number referred to.

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Step 3: Write your clues and put them in envelopes

Be sure to write numbers on the clues so that they are in order. I also had sticky notes with a description of what they were doing so that I could also keep track.

We had two sets of instructions for each leg of our race. One was to tell the boys where to go, and the other was how to perform their challenge (just like on the Amazing Race!).

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Step 4: Set up your DIY Amazing Race course

Set up all of your “destinations” with the items needed to do their challenges (wagons are helpful with this). I also printed out Amazing Race flags and the country flag for the destination to add a little more authenticity and excitement to our game.

Step 5: And you’re off!

Hand over your first envelope to your kids, and let them take off.

Since it was only our two boys racing, we raced with them to each challenge to explain or help them perform their tasks. While they competed against each other at the activities, we waited until both were finished to move on. If you have ultra-competitive kids, who want to race each other for the duration, you will need two sets of clues and someone to race with them.

The eight activities for our DIY Amazing Race took a little over an hour to go from start to finish line. It was a great way to take advantage of a beautiful day and spend time together outside doing something unique. On a cold or rainy day, you could also set up challenges around the house and go from room to room.

If you can’t play with Phil, you can always play with each other. Regardless of how you do it, a DIY Amazing Race can chase some blues away during a tough time, mix up your routine a bit, and make for some memories along the way. My 12-year old son even said, “This is much more fun than I expected!” Ahhh…the endorsement of a pre-teen…

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