How do you travel more than 2,000km without spending a single penny?
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How do you travel more than 2,000km to one of the furthest outcrops of Europe without spending a penny? Don’t be afraid to be cheeky, explain University of Sussex students Lucie Wolfman and Olivia Macintosh. Holidays are planned with military precision these days. Thanks to the Web, you see 36 different angles of the hotel room you like before you’ve even booked it. But what if holidays were more spontaneous? What if you arrived at the airport not knowing where you were going? Better still - what if that holiday wasn’t going to cost you a penny? We were able to enjoy the thrill of travelling impulsively as altruistic contestants of the first ever Sussex Jailbreak; a fundraising event which challenged participants to get as far away from the University of Sussex campus in 36 hours… without spending any money. What we hadn’t anticipated were the life lessons we would learn through our adventure that would eventually land us in Reykjavik, Iceland. When the race began, our first task was to convince a bus driver to allow us to travel for free to the town of Lewes – some five miles east of the university campus. After a few hours in Lewes, we had collected all the money needed for a flight. We made our way to Gatwick thanks to the sheer kindness of strangers; from the thoughtful couple who
bought us tea and Kit Kats in Lewes, to the station manager who chased down a train supervisor to explain our situation despite also dealing with a football crowd.
The Jailbreak code rules out any serious pre-planning, so we arrived at the airport with only two small rucksacks containing a change of clothes and not much else... not even Olivia's toothbrush!
But like any traveller worth their salt we were quick to adapt and improvise, grabbing some cardboard from a university recycling bin to make a sign that convinced sceptical airport security as to the genuineness of our purpose.
We ran to different airline desks asking where we could go with the funds we had. We could have chosen Venice, Rome or Barcelona but chose to brave Iceland.
It wasn’t until we got talking to Hermann, an Icelandic tourist guide who sat next to us on the plane, that we realised how unprepared we really were for one of the world’s least populated countries where the temperature was unlikely to rise above zero.
It was funny how the challenge encouraged us to be really sociable and talkative when normally we would both quite happily sit silently on a plane trip ignoring our fellow passengers. Instead, here we were chatting away with a complete stranger, learning far more than we would have on a normal holiday.
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