The number you’re looking for is 225,000. That’s how many miles Phil Keoghan typically logs per year as the host and executive producer of “The Amazing Race.” “It’s the most ambitious reality show out there because we’re always on the move,” he says. “In any given season, we’re constantly switching countries thousands of miles away from each other.”
Keoghan’s work with the CBS stalwart — in which teams of two span the globe in hopes of winning $1 million — has led to 23 Emmy nominations and 10 wins since its 2001 premiere. But eliminating exhausted contestants at pit stops is just a small part of his journey. He’s also embarked on don’t-try-this-at-home adventures such as pedaling his bike from Los Angeles to New York City to raise money for MS Disease (documented in the film “The Ride”), enjoying a 5-star meal on top of an erupting volcano in Stromboli and swimming the Bosphorus Strait from Asia to Europe.
These lofty credentials unofficially make the rugged New Zealand native the most well-traveled host on the planet. (In fact, in 2004, he trekked 467,000 miles, which “is the distance to the moon and back.”) And, as such, he considers himself a true on-the-go do’s and don’ts expert.
“The most important thing is that you’ve got to have systems in place and keep repeating them until everything becomes standard operating procedure,” explains Keoghan, who’s also hosted
“National Geographic Explorer” and has been a correspondent for “60 Minutes Sports.” “Keep your documentation and money in the same place every time. Mistakes happen when you’re tired and break the pattern and decide to put your electronics in the airplane front-seat pocket.”
Keoghan, who lives in LA with his wife, Louise, and daughter, Elle, spoke with CNN Underscored to highlight the products that help him navigate life on the road.
Simply put, “Your passport is your ticket to the world,” Keoghan says. He stores his booklet in a sturdy holder, along with a card that lists emergency phone numbers. “You need to know who to call if you’re in trouble,” he says. Note that he keeps some cash and a spare credit card on his body in case a bag gets misplaced or stolen.
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“I’m not into anything fancy-looking,” Keoghan says. “It’s all about functionality and finding something that will stand the test of time.” He found his luggage match with this water-resistant duffel, which is made of ballistic nylon and features detachable shoulder straps.
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Write on! Sure, Keoghan has a state-of-the-art phone to communicate with his production crew. But when it comes to documenting his thoughts, an old-school notebook rules. “I love having this diary with me because I make notes about the cool things that have happened to me and what people say to me — and I jot down ideas and sketches,” says Keoghan. He even totes it when he’s off the road.
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While viewers only see snippets of Keoghan in each episode, he’s outside in the elements for hours plotting and anticipating the contestants’ arrival at each destination. That’s just one reason why he’s constantly applying sunscreen. “It seems to have worked so far!” he says. He also lugs a bottle of water for hydration and a Power Bar for a snack.
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This lightweight and packable jacket is similar to the Jet Lag jacket Keoghan has had for years. “It definitely looks terrible,” he admits of his favorite, overworn outerwear. Nonetheless, he doesn’t leave home without it because “it’s really lightweight and packs nicely into my case.” Besides, he points out, “I always need an extra layer because it can get really chilly in an airport or on a plane.”
Keoghan says he searched “for years and years” for an ideal backpack. “I wanted one that was durable and could carry camera equipment,” he explains. Though he acknowledges the Peak Design bag — which is expandable up 33L, has padded laptop and tablet sleeves, works with packing cubes and is waterproof — is on the pricey side, “it’s done a million miles with me, and I really like it.”
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Don’t even get Keoghan started on airport security lines. “There are people who just stand there for 10 minutes and still forget to take out their electronics even though the TSA agent just said it 300 times!” he says. To make his experience as seamless as possible, he wears slip-on, lace-free boots. These particular shoes also happen to be “super comfortable.”
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