I'm A Backpacker... Get Me In Here!

We ran a competition. It was awesome. Here's what happened...

Back at the start of January gapyear.com launched a social media contest to engage the online backpacker community. We wanted to promote Australia's Gold Coast, and we decided the best thing to do was, well, send people there. 

We came up with the idea of flying six gappers to the sub-tropical Gold Coast jungle to take part in bushtucker trials and other challenges, with the winner being crowned the Backpacker King or Queen of the Jungle. 

The actual jungle adventures would come later; first we had to find our six backpackers. But how? The answer was simple: run a video competition to determine who was worthy of going.

We put out the call; aspiring jungle adventurers should produce a one-minute video explaining why they wanted to fly out to Oz as one of our super six. We would upload the entries to our YouTube channel and the filmmakers with the most YouTube Likes would win.

If you build it

We built it. They came. The videos poured in and we put them out there to be judged by the opinionated crowd that is the internet. The entries varied from vintage-looking travel slideshows to rock-soundtracked adrenaline rushes. Whatever came in, we put them up on YouTube and shouted about them on the site and every other place we could think of.

It soon became clear that it wasn't just us that thought this was a cool competition. Travellers starting retweeting and linking to it on Twitter. Backpackers began reposting and sharing it on Facebook. Gappers were talking about it on Google+, blogging about it and spreading it online. 

Competition winners Andy Gosling, Dave Brett, Chantelle Keady and Nikki Smith

At first we had just a few hundred video views and a few dozen Likes; suddenly we had thousands of views and hundreds of Likes. The videos kept coming in and the numbers kept rising.

Then things started to get insane and obsessive; Some people got theselves locked out of Twitter for posting too many times; others got temporarily banned from Facebook for opening up too many chat coversations. It was like a travel video virus spreading through the digital ether. No one was immune. 

Closing time

By the time the competition ended at midnight on 31 January we had nearly 30,000 video views and more than 4,600 Likes. It was an incredible response, and once the dust had settled we looked out over the metaphorical battlefield to behold the six backpackers still standing. 

Our six finalists come from different walks of life, have different backgrounds and different aspirations. But what they have in common is that they all wanted to get to the Gold Coast jungle and they made a video popular enough to earn their seat on the Qantas flight over there.

To tie together all the strands of what has happened so far, we decided to put this feature together to introduce our six lucky winners who, quite frankly, need their own kick-ass collective noun.  

We'll run through them in order of where they finished in the video Likes league table. World, here are your six finalists. Get to know them, grow to love them. Follow their adventures...

The winning backpackers and their videos

Name: Andy Gosling

Age: 26

Profile: Andy_G

Likes: 845

Video views: 2,044

What was the concept behind your video?

I love to challenge myself; anything high, deep, scary or dangerous is definitely my thing, and of course I love to travel. However, my video displayed none of these personality traits! I thought the predictable thing to do would be to stand there going 'Get me in the jungle, I love an adventure and thrive on competition' etc, so I went down the comedic route. What I ended up with was a video detailing all the reasons I wanted to go to Australia whilst in fact making a video about... Austria!

Why did you enter the competition?

I think you'd be crazy not to enter a competition like this! These days everyone has a PC or laptop with a webcam or a smartphone. My video was filmed on my phone; it must have taken an hour out of my day at the very most, and for that I'm now off to the other side of the planet!

What are you most looking forward to about the trip?

I love the outdoors; the opportunity to spend some time in the jungle, challenging myself and hopefully bumping into some wildlife and creepy crawlies is really exciting and appealing to me.

What's going to happen in the jungle?

I'm not going to lie; I'm in it to win it. As an only child I'm ridiculously competitive, so I would love to be the 'winner'. Having said that, just the experience of being in the jungle, sleeping in a hammock or a hut and just taking in all the sights and sounds means if I come sixth out of six, I'm still going to come home with a smile on my face.

Name: Nikki Smith

Age: 26

Profile: *nikki180188*

Likes: 731

Views: 2,196

What was the idea behind your video? 

I was trying to show that I'm not afraid to challenge myself and that I think I can win!

Why did you enter the competition?

I love challenging myself and exploring. I've been a member on gapyear.com for 3 years now, so to be able to promote their site for a chance to win a free trip seemed a good deal!

How do you feel now you've won?

Shocked, then excited. I even did a little dance when I found out! Although I'm sure it will really sink in once we've got all the details and flights are confirmed!

What are you most looking forward to about going to the Gold Coast?

Apart from the first night in a luxury hotel? I like the simple things in life, so spending time roughing it in the jungle sounds awesome to me! Seeing as my boyfriend is also one of the six winners, I'd say competing against him is something I'm looking forward to...

Were you surprised by the number of views and likes your video got?

Very surprised! It's nice to know that so many people took a few minutes out of their free time to help.

Dave Brett

Age: 22

Profile: davebrettuk

Likes: 448

Views: 2,095

What was the concept behind your video? 

Quick and easy. I wanted to show others that it was so easy to enter, plus I didn't have the time to produce a high quality video. It just goes to show you that you should really enter competitions!

Why did you enter in the first place?

I got an email in December about the competition and thought it would be awesome as I was in cold Norway at the time and was up for a change in contrast. But I forgot about it! Then, only a week till it the end I watched a really cool video of an entry on gapyear.com’s Facebook page and decided to give it a go!

How do you feel having won?

I’m really blown away to be given such a wonderful opportunity, and being able to be a part of this unique competition. It’s Australia after all!

How did you promote your video?

Without my great community of friends on Facebook I could have not done it. Facebook-chatting to everyone individually was a tough job but a very fun one as it was great to catch up with old faces and I was blown away by the support. Twitter was also a powerful support to my promotion campaign but I didn't want to annoy my followers so I used it very lightly.

What do you hope to get out of the challenges in the jungle?

Adventure. Going into a jungle is never going to be boring. Anything could happen. But I hope to experience awesome new challenges and just have a lot of fun with it. It’s not every day you get to go to a jungle, after all.

Name: Maire McDonnell

Age: 22

Profile: mairemcdonnell

Likes: 410

Views: 2,101

What was the thinking behind your video? 

My thinking was that I had to get it done in one take. I didn't have a concept except getting things thrown at me! I tried not to laugh, but I couldn't help it.

How have your friends and family reacted?

One friend said he was really glad I won, because he never thought anyone actually won these kinds of contests. The general consensus of everyone I have told has been surprise. They are all really happy though!

How did you promote your video?

I asked my friends on Facebook and they shared it with their friends. One friend posted it on Reddit. I don't really know much about Twitter and so I just asked people individually.

Were you surprised by the number of views and likes you got?

I was really surprised at the response from people and how supportive they were. I thought when I asked people they would be like ‘yeah, yeah whatever’, but so many of them tagged me and shared it, I was really impressed!

Name: Sadie Rose

Age: 21

Profile: SadieFrancesca

Likes: 406

Views: 2,813

What was the concept behind your video?

I wanted my video to be like a short story about my life and about my travels. I wanted to get across how passionate I am about travelling by incorporating photos and a picture of my 'wanderlust' tattoo. I also wanted to demonstrate how enthusiastic I was about the backpacker competition, so I made a t-shirt I just wanted my video to be creative and meaningful.

Why did you enter the contest?

When I first saw the competition advertised I instantly thought it was perfect for me, especially because Australia is somewhere I've always wanted to go. Also, the 'bush tucker trial' aspect of the competition really appealed to me, because after seeing 'I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!' I've always said it'd be amazing if they did something for normal people.

How do you feel now that you've won?

I'm ecstatic! I can't believe it... It still hasn't sunk in properly. It doesn't feel real! I'm so happy and excited. I can't even put it into words.

What do you hope to get out of the showdown in the jungle?

Just amazing memories and experiences. This competition is so unique and exciting... and I'll get to do things which I would never normally have the opportunity to do. I just hope to be able to return home with a bunch of stories and memories to be able to tell all my friends and family.

Name: Chantelle Keady

Age: 22

Profile: chantelle_k

Likes: 398

Views: 2,196

What was the thinking behind your video?

I wanted to enter the competition as soon as possible, so unfortunately not a lot of thought went into the video. I threw photos together with a great song and hoped for the best. I wanted to show people what kind of adventures I had been on and how much I would appreciate them liking the video.

How do you feel having won?

Exhausted! It was a tense and nervous competition, but it was so exciting! I found out at work that I had won and my other co-workers couldn’t stop me from jumping up and down on the shop floor with a big grin on my face!

Were you surprised by the number of views and likes you got?

I really was. It was shocking how many I had in the space of one day! I knew that people knew the kind of person I was and how much I wanted to go, and I think that reflected in how many I got.

What do you hope to get out of the final competition in the jungle?

New memories. I adore travel and seeing new things, new surroundings, new cultures, new lifestyles, so do be lucky enough to able to do this great trip I am sure I will make some fantastic memories. I feel very lucky to have won, so I am going to take in my stride and enjoy every second! I love every little thing about Australia and I want to appreciate every moment! Thank you again to gapyear.com for having such a great competition!

Further Information

Our six backpackers will be heading out to the Gold Coast jungle in late May. Look out for new announcements and follow them live right here on gapyear.com as they embark on their adventure.