A group of Irish travelers set out to see how far they could get without spending a cent — and you’d be amazed at how far they made it.
In an event known as the Trinity College Jailbreak, nearly 70 students from the Dublin University were given a day and a half to get as far away from the Irish capital as they could without spending any money. “We originally thought people would travel to the U.K. and around Ireland, we never imagined they would make it out of Europe,” Sorcha McCauley, one of the organizers, told TIME over the phone.
Yet for many, their enthusiasm brought them straight to Dublin’s international airport where they began to blag their way onto flights destined for Poland, Slovakia, Italy, Germany, Indonesia and even Australia. The winning team, two young medical students, made it as far as Miramar in Argentina, more than 7,000 miles away. They managed to fly to Buenos Aires, be interviewed on a local Argentinian radio station, take a taxi down the Argentine coast, and all without a word of Spanish between them. They even convinced Irish musician Chris de Burgh to pay for their ticket home, added Claire Doyle, who also helped organize the fundraiser.
Another four students were even more creative and headed east towards Asia and Australia. Although they didn’t make their destinations within the 36-hour time limit, the young travelers eventually arrived in Sydney and Brunei. Even those who never left Europe had their share of adventure: some lost their passports in Hungary, while others had to deal with a Serbian train crash, blizzards in Dusseldorf, and stowing away in the back of a truck crossing the English Channel. According to McCauley, two competitors made it as far as St. Peter’s square in Vatican City, where they dressed up as priests and handed in their résumés for a certain job opening.
The idea was based on similar charity competitions held at various universities across the U.K. However, the Irish attempt far exceeded the original aim of the project. “Our goal was to raise €4,000 ($5,200) for the two charities, Amnesty International and St. Vincent de Paul,” McCauley says, “but we’ve already reached €13,000 (nearly $17,000).” Now all that’s left is getting everyone home.