Joe & Ian. stars of The Amazing Race season 35

‘The Amazing Race’ stars Joe & Ian on getting engaged and competing in Thailand

After pledging their love on the still, emerald waters of Khao Sok in 2022, Joe Moskowitz and Ian Todd knew two things for certain: they were ready to spend the rest of their lives together and they were completely captivated by Thailand’s magic. Little did they know that in less than a year, they would be returning to the country, not as vacationers, but this time as contestants on season 35 of the hit American reality competition show ‘The Amazing Race.’

We recently caught up with the much-loved duo to get the scoop on their engagement, their love affair with the Land of Smiles, and their experience competing as the only gay couple on the show.

Getting engaged on a floating bungalow in Khao Sok sounds like a scene from a romantic movie! Who’s idea was it? Could you walk us through how it all unfolded?

Ian: Definitely my idea (nobody, and I mean nobody, would call Joe a planner).

Joe: This was actually Ian’s 40th birthday trip to Thailand which he planned a full year in advance. Honestly, I am so happy he did – it’s truly an incredible place full of natural and cultural beauty.

Ian: I had actually been to Khao Sok once before and thought it was a magical place unlike any that I’ve seen before. During that first time I thought to myself, I’m going to bring someone really special here.

What were the factors that drew you to choose Thailand as the destination for your engagement? Were there any particular aspects of Thai culture or the country’s atmosphere that made you think, “Yep, this is the place where we’ll say ‘I do’ to forever?”

Ian: Not only is Thailand known for being welcoming, accepting, and embracing to the LGBTQ+ community – but combine that with the jaw-dropping natural landscape and rich culture, we knew it would be the perfect place to solidify our life together.

Joe: We’re big adventure travellers and absolutely love seeking out the road less travelled. When we find ourselves in a country like Thailand, of course we make sure to spend time in the big cities like Bangkok and Phuket, but also to get off the beaten path and explore other lesser-known areas like Khao Sok or Ko Phra Thong. Thailand really hits the mark on all things that make Joe & Ian, well, Joe & Ian.

Competing on The Amazing Race must have been an incredible adventure. What made you decide to join the show? And what are your favourite highlights from the experience?

Joe: Well we both watched the show when we were a little younger and then discovered our mutual admiration for it during COVID. While being in lockdown in New York City – we re-watched all of The Amazing Race seasons and found ourselves taking notes, strategizing, asking each other what we would do in certain scenarios that the teams were in. It only made sense that we eventually said… well let’s just see what the application process looks like!

Ian: The show is perfectly aligned with who we are. Our ethos is adventure travel and doing that together – which is what the Race is all about. As they tell us during the casting process, it’s not just a travel competition show – rather a test of human relationships. It goes without saying that realizing the first destination of the Race was Thailand was one of the more special moments throughout the competition.

Joe: There’s so many highlights – even a lot that didn’t make it to air on TV. The jokes we played on each other, the stress of getting lost pretty much everywhere we went, the confidence we had for all physical challenges only to realise that carrying mattresses throughout the chaotic streets of Vietnam is not easy, even for us!

How did being the only gay team on Season 35 shape your experience?

Ian: Honestly the gays have a pretty good track record on other seasons of the Race. We had to do our part to show up and show out! But really it was an honour to be that representation on a global stage – that wasn’t lost on us.

Joe: It definitely wasn’t lost on us – and we were reminded of the importance of that representation by some of the messages we received after the show ended from LGBTQ+ youth who find themselves searching for support and community and acceptance.

The Amazing Race is known for putting relationships to the test. Were there any particularly challenging moments for you guys? And would you say they strengthened your relationship?

Ian: Well Joe got us lost literally in LA trying to get to the airport and that was on Day 1! Oh and then got us lost again when he thought he found the right park in Bangkok but clearly was wrong (on Day 2!) Needless to say the beginning of the Race was…challenging for us.

Joe: First of all, it’s a lot harder when you don’t have a map, a phone, or any sort of GPS navigation to help you! Yes, it was a tough start but we eventually found our groove and started making up ground.

Ian: We came into the Race as recently engaged from our Thailand visit, and wanted to work on our communication as a couple. I think we definitely achieved that all while having fun with the crazy experience we were in.

Cruising through Khao Sok following a romantic engagement.
Sailing into forever: the couple embrace the calm and charm of Thailand’s stunning landscapes.

Given that the first legs of The Amazing Race took place in Bangkok, how was your experience exploring the city as LGBT travellers?

Joe: Well we don’t get any time to go off on our own. During the Race, it’s GO GO GO and wildly hectic & stressful. There were a few times when we reminded ourselves to pause for a brief moment and take it all in: where we were, what we were doing, and how special it all was. Especially because it started in Thailand.

Ian: As you can see on the first episode of our season (35), we ripped the envelope open (after Joe completed the tightrope walk across the hotel roof in LA) and it read “Travel to Bangkok, Thailand, the other City of Angels” and that moment was just really special to us. We already had such a connection to Thailand as it helped shape our relationship – and this just further solidified it as a place that we’ll cherish and carry with us forever.

Were there any specific places or activities in Thailand that you would recommend to other couples looking for a romantic getaway?

Joe: Definitely Khao Sok! Especially for those looking to immerse themselves in a natural landscape unlike any other. The beauty of Thailand is that you can get it all in one trip: Venture out to some of the floating markets for a taste of Thai culture, relax on one of the island beaches like at Ko Phra Thong, or honestly just go without an itinerary… because if you’re going to get lost, get lost in Thailand.

Ian: That part.

To learn more about Joe & Ian, and to follow their journey, find them on Instagram here: @joemosk @ian_a_wanderer