UCSB alumnus Alex Ayling and his brother Mark are competing as finalists in the British competition “Biggest, Baddest Bucket List” — a travel-video contest with a grand prize of $50,000 in cash.
The Ayling brothers have a wide range of experience in outdoors sports — from surfing the tides of the Santa Barbara coast to exploring the beaches of San Sebastián, Spain. The siblings entered the competition based on a short destination video, travel narrative and three photos about touring a location of their choice.
The top 10 candidates for the competition were chosen on April 15 and will be sent to the U.K. on May 18 for a week of challenges, with the trip fully pre-paid for and hosted by travel company My Destination.
During the trip, My Destination co-founders Neil Waller and James Street, guest judge Ben Southall and My Destination mascot Norman the Nomad will interview the finalists and evaluate their on-screen skills, personality and qualities as a global traveler. The final winner will be granted an all-expenses-paid experience of traveling through six continents in six months — from July to December.
Alex Ayling, who graduated in 2010 with a degree in history and cultural anthropology, said his time at UCSB, as well as other experiences during his undergraduate years, fostered his love for travelling and engaging in outdoor excursions.
“I remember meeting people from all over the world at house parties in Isla Vista, and that was such a cool experience,” Ayling said in an email. “Apart from that, I did a semester abroad with EAP to New Zealand — my father’s homeland and my second nationality — where I spent a year surfing, hiking, snowboarding and exploring.”
Mark Ayling, a 2008 UCLA graduate with a degree in economics and political science, moved to India after graduation, witnessing acute poverty throughout the region during his time there. His experience in the lesser developed country caused him to revolutionize his plans for the future, soon after pursuing plans to become a world traveler and writer.
According to the Aylings, also known as the Vagabrothers on their online blog, they present themselves as a “dynamic duo” that balance out each other’s talents and personalities to engage in worldwide travel escapades. Currently, the brothers live in Spain, and as a pair, they have visited 45 countries on six continents, filmed three adventure documentaries and written two guidebooks along with multiple travel articles.
My Destination Head of Inbound Marketing Adrian Land said the competition was designed to promote worldwide interest in travel and connect a wide range of explorers, not only those seeking to participate in the “Biggest, Baddest Bucket List.”
“We live and breathe travel. So, for us, being able to help make connections with fellow wanderlusters around the world has been the most rewarding element of the competition,” Land said in an email. “Not only are [contest] entrants congratulating each other on their videos and blog posts, they’re using the vast array of local insights to help plan future adventures abroad.”
The Aylings’ competition submission video features their adventures in San Sebastián and a story about traveling in the Scottish Highlands.
According to Land, some video submissions have shocked the judges in terms of the lengths travelers go to try new activities.
“We certainly didn’t think we would see quite so many bugs and creepy crawlies being consumed, not to mention the dozen or so naked bottoms that were on show,” Land said.
Southall, a guest judge who is also the winner of “Best Job in the World” in 2009 by Tourism Queensland, said the “Biggest, Baddest Bucket List” competition acts as an important opportunity for travel enthusiasts to demonstrate their grit and incentive.
“This sort of competition motivates people to reach for their own goals, showcasing their creativity and talent to a global social-media-based audience, and almost replaces the standard resume and interview that’s usually required for a position this sought after,” Southall said in an email. “My advice? Just damn well do it.”
Support can be given to the Vagabrothers online by clicking “Support and Follow” under their team name at www.mydestination.com/users/2vagabrothers/bbb#tab. Voting will also be available on the website and site visitors can then receive updates about their team’s progress in the competition.