Take a minute and imagine winning a contest that will take you to 50 European countries over eight months with all expenses paid. That is what’s at stake in Global Degree’s “Greatest Contest in the World”: a chance to join the Global Degree team on a European adventure of a lifetime.
The theory behind Global Degree is that you don’t need to sit in a classroom for four years to learn a thing or two. From their perspective, travelling the world and visiting every country in the same amount of time will give you an education like no other. Vancouver-natives, Mike, Alex, and Natalia are the three travelers currently on the road around the world, and now they’re looking for a fourth companion to join them in Europe this year – and maybe even across the rest of the world.
The contest is open to any age and gender and the winner will be treated to free airfare, free accommodation, discounted tourism activities, and free insurance. They will also have their entire trip documented by Alex, the videographer of the group, and Natalia, the photographer.
Mike and Alex held a contest last year to find their third companion and ended up choosing Natalia out of 198 applicants. Since then, the team has grown into close friends and made their way around a good chunk of the globe.
The original pair have visited 42 countries so far in only a year and a half of traveling, and since she joined the trip, Natalia has already knocked 24 countries off their huge goal of visiting every country in the world. Mike, who has visited a total of 67 countries in his lifetime is attempting to be the youngest North American to visit every country in the world. It might be a lofty goal even for someone with a couple decades of adulthood under their belt, but this group is all in their late twenties to early thirties.
Travel Tip: Take the slow boat. @alexanderhennessy feelin alive in Laos! ???? by @nataliaanjaphotography Have you checked out our international contest to join us for a FREE trip to 50 countries in Europe? (link in bio) #GlobalDegree #Laos #FlightCentre #hostelworld #Monstercat #WorldNomads #SeekerNetwork #Travel #Travelgram #Wanderlust #Explore #latergram (Currently in Vancouver)
“It’s a five year project and ideally it will be done in five years. Natalia ran out of pages in her passport, so we had to skip Papa New Guinea while we were on that side of the world,” Alex told Vancity Buzz during the team’s hiatus at home in Vancouver. “There are three more years. Europe this year, Caribbean Pacific next year, and then Africa, and we’re done. We’ve put the Middle East on hold for now due to security in that area.” “In our last trip, we covered nearly every single country in Asia. Geographically, it was about a third of the planet’s land mass. It was crazy,” added Mike.
The Great Wall Of China. #globaldegree #beijing #china #thegreatwallofchina #flightcentre #hostelworld #monstercat #openmyworld #meettheworld #latergram A photo posted by Global Degree (@globaldegree) on
With all the traveling, and the generous offer of a basically-free trip across Europe, one might wonder how this group manages to pay for everything.
“We pay out of our pockets for some expenses, but we have a lot of support from a lot of really great companies. Flight Centre Canada has been incredibly supportive of us since day one. Also, HostelWorld.com out of the UK wants to facilitate the entire thing,” says Mike.
They also have the support of Australia’s World Nomads Insurance and Vancouver-based music label Monstercat. Anyone wanting catch a glimpse of their travels can also head to Discovery Channel’s digital network, Seeker, where Global Degree is one of 15 shows.
“It’s a heavily subsidized trip. It’s an awesome way for some of these companies to showcase what their company has to offer. We provide them the work of cutting together something that’s engaging to watch, and they will hook us up with a boat tour, skydiving, helicopter ride, you name it,” said Alex.
“It’s the best job on the planet. These companies want us to have fun, and the more fun we have the better the content will be,” Mike added.
Travel Tip: Go Otter fishing in a remote village with the locals. @alexanderhennessy learning how it’s done in Bangladesh. #GlobalDegree #Bangladesh #Khulna #Narail @flightcentreca #flightcentre @hostelworld #hostelworld @monstercat #monstercat @worldnomads #worldnomads @seekernetwork #seekernetwork #fishingotter #latergram (Currently in Vancouver)
When choosing their winner for the “best job on the planet”, the trio doesn’t have their minds married to any one particular type. In fact, they’re open to just about anyone, with a few caveats: passion, energy, and creativity.
“If someone is extremely passionate about traveling and has a great energy, that can add value to the footage,” says Mike. “Saying that, if you also have someone who has zero travel experience, bringing them along in contrast to watch them develop as a person over eight months could be fascinating as well.”
Being last year’s winner, Natalia says her life will never be the same again.
“It’s been incredible. It was definitely a life changing experience and I’m blown away by the experiences that I have. Alex laughs at me because he says he’s never heard anyone say ‘Wow’ so many times” she laughs.
With the least travel experience of the three, Natalia is seen as the travel baby of the group, but her fascination with every new place they visit is what makes her a fun companion to be around.
Whoever wins the contest will be joining a group about as diverse as the countries they visit. Mike’s day job is buying rental properties, fixing them up, and renting them out. He says it’s cheaper for him to travel the world than live in Vancouver. Natalia is a freelance photograph specializing in portraits. Alex is a sometimes-bartender at the Flying Pig in Yaletown.
Travel tip: When parasailing, go naked! #globaldegree #maldives #anantara #anantarakihavah #flightcentre #parasailing #hostelworld #monstercat #meettheworld #openmyworld #latergram A photo posted by Global Degree (@globaldegree) on
The contest closes on January 30, 2016 in Canada and the winner will be announced on March 25 on the Global Degree website. Anyone over the age of 18 is welcome to apply and must submit their application in a two to three-minute video explaining why they want to get their Global Degree and how they could contribute to the team. They suggest being as creative and energetic as possible.
“Be yourself in front of the camera. Show passion. I really hustled to get my votes and I made it pretty apparent I wanted to win the contest. I was afraid of entering the contest initially and thought that I wouldn’t get support.” – Natalia
“There’s the awesome phenomenon where you going out trying to achieve your goals inspires others to go get theirs.” – Mike
“People are afraid to send in the video, but they really need to just overcome that fear because it could potentially change their life.” – Mike
“I’ve never heard anyone saying quitting their job and traveling is a regret.” – Alex