Daniel Ryan from The Amazing Race Australia vs New Zealand season, talks to news.com.au about their experience on the show.
IT looks like the greatest reality TV show on Earth, an all-expenses paid trip around the world, but is the Amazing Race the ultimate travel experience or is it actually a nightmare?
"It's hell," jokes Daniel, who with his teammate Ryan has just finished the Australia v New Zealand instalment of the race.
"You would never choose this sort of travel in normal life because you want to spend a few days in a place, but this sort of experience, some people describe it as like 'Contiki tour on crack'. It's a nightmare ... it's quick, it's extreme but it's a beautiful experience."
Added Ryan: "It's a money can't buy experience, it's insane, even if you tried to recreate it you couldn't."
The Sydney-based intensive care nurses joined forces to tackle the latest local series which sees Aussies and Kiwis pitted against each other for the race around the world.
Daniel and Ryan on The Amazing Race: Australia v New Zealand. Source: Supplied
"We do a lot of night shifts doing intensive care, often 12 hour nights, so we're used to trying to perform under fatigue. Shift work is very much like jet lag, when you've got to turn your body clock around 12 hours on it's head, so we thought operating under pressure with a lack of sleep — we've got this ... but we didn't," said Ryan.
"You think you've got the race, but the race is full on, 24/7, after a few days of not sleeping and eating properly, you're ready to tear your hair out and that's where things get interesting."
It's the first time the show has pitted the two nations against each other, but the pair say there wasn't as much Trans-Tasman rivalry and tension as they'd first thought.
"To be honest, there's more that bonds us together as Australians and New Zealanders than drives us apart. It's really only the rugby that really separates us as nations, but generally when the times get tough we bond together and that's what we found on the race."
Australian teams: Elizabeth and Todd, Sally and Tyson, Ashleigh and Jarrod, Tiharna and Inga, Daniel and Ryan. Source: Channel 7
In the franchise's thirteen years on air, there's been 25 seasons of the shows in the US and three local, ensuring nearly every TV viewer has caught at least an episode or two.
So with that in mind, we decided to grill Dan and Ryan on what really goes on behind the scenes.
What do the contestants eat when they're travelling?
"Anything you can get your hands on, muesli bars are great, because if you stop, you're stopping in the race, you're not having a degustation meal, you're not spending money, you're just trying to do your best on minimal time, I mean you'd be searching everywhere for a woodfired pizza in Namibia. The key is to bring snacks."
How do you pay for everything?
"You've got a budget for the leg, you rip and read (the card) and they say 'you've got $125 for this leg of the race' but it's up to you, you do what you want, sometimes you have some money leftover, sometimes you're scraping by, living on the bare minimum, living on mars bars and muesli bars. You just have to manage it well and then you end up having to beg and that becomes quite awkward."
New Zealand Team L-R: Cat and Jesse, Carla and Hereni, John and Murray, Emily and Jono. Front: Aston and Christie. Australian Team L-R: Inga and Tiharna, Elizabeth and Todd, Sally and Tyson, Daniel and Ryan. Front: Ashleigh and Jarrod Source: Channel 7
How many crew are travelling with you?
"You've got a little crew and they change around, they're always with you, you're a team of four people running around. You're always aware of what they're doing because you look after them, but you sort of tune out as well, you're not constantly aware there's a camera right next to you because it's the two of you talking and you've got to do your thing. No one's directing you, you can go where you want."
Which is the best airport in the world?
"It'd have to be Munich, we've been there several times. They do free coffees and hot chocolates and have kick-ass pretzels and when you're on a race and you don't have money and you're trying to scrounge food, that's the best thing."
What do you pack and what can you not pack?
"No technology, no maps, no cameras, no phones, no books, nothing that's going to help you or assist you. No money, no credit cards. In terms of everything else, what you bring is up to you, but you have to carry it so we ended up turfing stuff along the way. Half the bag is just underwear and you throw them out as you go."
Bonnie Sveen and Philippa Northeast and Daniel Little and Ryan Thomas at Westfield Parramatta. Source: Supplied
How much time do you have in between legs?
"It's a 12 hour turnaround or less but in that time you have to fit everything in. You have to get back to the hotel, do an interview, eat, get an hour and a half's sleep, unpack your bags, wash your clothes, repack your bags and your clothes are still wet because you haven't had time to dry them. It's pandemonium sometimes and they really keep you going in that race mode, they want to keep you going and keep you in that state and it adds to that point of getting to emotional and physical fatigue."
Do you get any days off to explore?
"That's the mystery of the race, you come on the show thinking 'yeh, I'm going to get a day off between episodes, I'll chill out, I'll have a rest', but you don't get that, you get a couple of hours sleep at max and you'll sleep on the planes if you can, that's why you're so fatigued constantly because you're only getting a few zzz's here and there."
Daniel and Ryan in their day jobs at intensive care nurses. Source: Channel 7
How do you manage to catch up on sleep?
"Drugs, definitely and that's coming from the nurses, the medical professionals here and earplugs are an absolute must on the planes. Also always try and get the exit row seating or if you think the flight's not going to be that full, book a seat up the back of the plane and hope that you get a full row to yourself to put your head down. A sneaky red is always good to wind down a bit."
What do you think the audience wouldn't know about how the race is run?
"I think people don't realise the amount of commuting and travel you do, because it just says teams are now on their way from Thailand to Namibia, but that's like a 36 hour long haul and you're doing four flights just to get there so its epic, its huge, you've had 36 hours travelling and no sleep and you feel like rubbish when you get there. You're stressed, jet-lagged, tired, hungry and tensions are bubbling."
Your advice for anyone considering entering the show?
"Anyone who's in a relationship, anyone who goes on the show saying 'I think our relationship is great and I think this would be the perfect test for our relationship', it's not for you, don't do it, don't do it. It's a pressure cooker environment."
The Amazing Race airs Monday nights at 8.40pm