The Vivacious Vagabrothers: Meet the Winners of the Biggest, Baddest Bucket List
It was only a few months ago that brothers Marko and Alex Ayling (otherwise known as the Vagabrothers) received the amazing news that they had won global travel website My Destination’s Biggest, Baddest Bucket List competition – in addition to a round-the-world trip to the destinations of their dreams, the lucky pair also snagged a $50,000 cash prize!
The dynamic duo have since set off on a whirlwind six-month adventure, undertaking a variety of incredible experiences that have included everything from whale watching in Canada to munching on Guinea pigs in Ecuador. We recently caught up with the nomadic twosome in-between exploits to find out how they celebrated their big BBB win, how their trip is going and what they have planned for their cash prize:
When you guys first applied to the Biggest, Baddest Bucket List competition, how confident were you about your chances?
We’d been practicing filmmaking, photography, and travel writing for years while teaching English in Spain, so we wanted to believe we could do it, but we obviously knew the odds were not in our favour. Our family kept telling us, ‘Good luck, but it’s a one in a million chance!’ In the months immediately prior to discovering the contest, we’d been non-stop filming, presenting, and editing for our own YouTube series of travel videos called vagabrotherstravel. In short, we’d practiced a lot and we were ready to pour everything into our entry.
The Vagabrothers ham it up in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera.How did you celebrate your BBB win?
Well, immediately after the announcement we bought everyone within earshot a drink! The next day we flew home to California and began a month and a half of low-key living in our hometown of San Diego. Once the euphoria wore off we realized that our lives were going to change a lot, so we soaked up time with family and friends…all while dreaming up a big bucket list!
So far, your BBB experience has taken you across North and South America, Iceland and the UK. What’s been the highlight of your travels so far?
We’ve been asked that a lot, and it’s never easy to answer! We’d been wanting to go to Brazil forever, and our time there really surpassed our expectations. But right now we’re in Istanbul listening to the call to prayer echo across the Bosphorus… so I think wandering around the backstreets of Istanbul have to be way up there as well.
Your upcoming trip will take you across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Is there a particular destination that you’re most looking forward to?
Alex: Kazakhstan. When most people think of Kazakhstan they think of Borat. Sadly, this seems to be almost all that people know about the 9th largest country in the world. Central Asia just seems like a fascinating place to me. It’s the land of the Silk Road, where traditionally nomadic people roamed the steppes, and hopefully we can help highlight the beauty that Kazakhstan is sure to hold.
Mark: Oman. I’ve always been enchanted by the Middle East, but I’ve never been. Oman seems to hold the best of the region: strong traditions, beautiful wadis and hilltop castles, ports and beaches – even surf! We’ve been practicing our Arabic in preparation!
You guys have posted some pretty awesome videos to the MyBBB YouTube channel. Have you always felt comfortable in front of the camera?
Alex: I’ve always just tried to have fun with it. This project started when I bought an inexpensive GoPro camera, taped it to a broomstick and started walking around filming myself.
Mark: Not for me! I first stepped in front of a camera a year ago and it took me 25 takes to get even the simplest of lines out. But Alex was a great coach and a patient camera man, and as we took turns filming each other I got more comfortable little by little.
Alex: Now the challenge is conveying our natural brotherly chemistry to the camera – something we’re realizing mostly involves us just goofing around like when we were younger!
As part of the BBB competition, you’ll be pocketing a $50,000 cash prize at the end of your travels. Any idea yet what you’re going do with the money?
We’re going to start by each donating a portion to our charity of choice: Alex has chosen Living Tongues, a project that works to save endangered languages from extinction, while Mark will donate to Kiva, a microfinance NGO that helps people in the developing world get loans to start up their own businesses. After that, we have a lot of plans… the challenge is deciding which to do first! Most likely, it will involve motorcycles!
We’ve stayed in some incredible places so far. It’s hard to beat the beachfront Crane Hotel in Barbados, where we had two ocean front suites with our own private pool on the balcony! But Rancho Diandrew in Costa Rica was great for an eco-friendly tent stay in the jungle and our deluxe penthouse apartment at the Chambers in Edinburgh was amazing as well! On another note entirely, we ended up sleeping in a caravan in an 800 person village in West Sussex, but you’ll have to watch our video from London to see what happened!