Kelley Hilton may not have won the prize she was hoping for, but the Telkwa woman has gained dozens of potential new travel companions.
Last week, Hilton applied for Global Degree, a popular web series hosted by YouTube stars Michael Graziano and Alex Hennessy where they try to visit 193 countries in the United Nations.
As part of Global Degree, which will start filming its second season soon, the trio will weave 35 countries in seven months including Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands. Airfare and accommodations are covered by the show.
In the last few weeks, the web series has been gaining traction online and has had more than 187 women from 13 different countries apply.
After several weeks, a woman from Vancouver won the challenge.
But Hilton was not entirely surprised that she didn’t win.
“I wasn’t surprised. I was just happy for her,” said Hilton. “It was kind of relieving knowing that now because I have these connections and these options, I can travel with some of my own friends. It’s exciting knowing that.”
A Facebook group was created specifically for the contestants and Hilton said everyone was supportive of each other.
“They actually wanted to get to know each other and a lot of people have started to plan trips together with people they’ve never even met before,” she said.
Hilton, who is originally from Telkwa but moved to Montreal recently to spend time with family, applied after hearing about the contest on Facebook.
“I’ve done a little bit of travelling. I always kind of dreamed about going out there. I was pretty nervous about it and it was really difficult to find people to go with. At one point, I was like ‘screw it’,” she said.
“I realized that it was a really great experience,” said the International Business major.
“Every time I come back, I’m like ‘okay, where do I go next?’ So, to be able to have an opportunity where you can go everywhere, that’s beyond my expectations of what I thought I could do.”
Hilton made a two-and-a-half-minute video explaining why she should be selected; and unlike many videos where contestants use voice overs, videos and other photographs to illustrate their love for travelling, Hilton hoped her simple video would show her thirst for adventure.
“I find it a little bit frustrating when people make videos that are so flashy and gimmicky because I feel like that’s what people go for, but it’s not genuine, or real, it’s not authentic,” said the 26-year-old. “I just wanted to express how important is it to me to learn about the other cultures and learn and immerse myself.
“I don’t want to go and just get drunk. Some travellers like that, that’s their scene, they want to take the path that everyone else takes. That’s not what I’m interested in, I’m interested in talking to people and maybe going where other tourists aren’t.”
Though she did not win, Hilton said she already has plans to travel to Ireland in the next few months.