Over the last few years QM members have travelled as far afield as Egypt, Alicante & last year two groups got to Poland; all without spending a penny of their own money. They achieved this through taking part in QM’s Annual Jailbreak. The principle behind Jailbreak is simple, get as far away from the union as possible in 48 hours, the team that gets furthers “as the crow flies” is deemed the winner; the only catch being that you must achieve this without spending any of your, or anyone you know’s, money.
Interested? Want to know more? We asked some of our previous participants some quick questions to give you a better idea of what to expect from one of the best weekends of your uni life.
How did you find spending the 48 hours traveling with mates? Anything to avoid?
L.S: Mostly great fun, I’d recommend setting out some plans you’re both happy with before leaving, so there aren’t any arguments on the way about when to give up or anything like that.
C.K: Amazing! I had an awesome time with one of my flatmates from Murano, we didn’t have any drama during our trip even though we ended up staying in Paris for 4 days. There were no boring moments either.
A.J: It was a good experience although tiring to put it lightly. I think we slept about 8 hours in total. Just make sure you bring food with you, as if you manage to hitch a ride in a car or lorry, they won’t stop for you to eat. I’d avoid the airport. As romantic as it may seem they are not always willing to let you jump on a flight last minute.
[Note: C. Jones is testament to there being a chance of getting a flight having obtained air travel 2 years in a row so may be worth a shot if you have the charm]
Any tips on how to get as far as you did/anything to avoid?
K.S: You can’t plan ahead seriously since you have really no idea what offers you’ll get from trying to blag a lift, but having a really general plan of where you want to get to and how is a really good idea. Except for that just get on with it and ask EVERYONE!
C.J: Persistence is the absolute key to getting far. Try everything twice. At least. Try and read the people you are talking to. If they look even slightly receptive to what it is you’re doing then turn on the charm and big up the charity element of the challenge. Smile and have a laugh with everyone you meet, even if you haven’t slept in 36 hours. Oh, and be prepared to gamble (I accepted a 1 way flight to Egypt with no guarantee of a free return).
Think of a unique way to sell yourselves or a unique bunch of people to approach. Mainstream train stations and airports will have seen plenty of Jailbreaks by now.
Avoid leaving your passport on the plane, especially when visiting a country where English isn’t widely spoken/where you wouldn’t want to go to prison.
A.G: Well we didn’t get all that far, but the majority of our distance was covered in a potato lorry, so hitchhiking is a good plan!
Best part about the time spent on the road?
G.P: getting closer to the people who were with me. i made some good friends, and there were a bunch of memorable experiences, from zipping through my home town in a hitch-hiked truck, and hand-made pints of magic in london, to staying up all night in dover trying to get a lift across
S.R: Without a doubt, the people you meet. Among others, we met an amazing French African charity worker and the head of the British police in France (believe it or not, for good reasons!). You’d be surprised who’s out there, if just up for a chat than anything else, so don’t be shy!
J.M: Best part is the journey man. Going to new places with mates is cool, funny new pranks, or picture you take. Stays with you forever
P.K: After reaching London we stopped for a good few pints before getting the train to Brighton. It ended with us with a mini piano playing to a singing carriage. The conductor decided to dance along rather than ask for our absent tickets. Magical.
If you were doing it again what would you differently & was there anything that worked particularly well for you?
L.B: The actual 48 hour jailbreak I wouldn’t do differently at all, but the travelling back part I would because it made us all stressed and grumpy; but that in itself wouldn’t put me off doing jailbreak again. I think what worked well for us was that we tried to avoid heading to London because a lot of teams go there and there is the possibility you might get stuck there. Our idea was to try the East coast and it eventually worked out.
N.B: Plan loads in advance. Get a list of contacts at airports/ferry terminals/bus stations you can start ringing as soon as the starter pistol’s fired.
C.J: Can’t say I’d have done anything differently…except maybe the bit about leaving my passport on the plane in Egypt.
Stuff which worked particularly well: Wearing kilts (we convinced a kilt shop to lend us them for free). People love kilts, especially if you get out of Scotland.
If you’re lucky enough to get airborne, tell the in flight staff what it is you’re doing and ask if you/the pilot can make an announcement over the tannoy about what you are doing. We did this and ended up getting like £200 in donations from the passengers. If you’re on a flight inbound to the UK then ask people to donate their leftover Euros/insert currency here, take it to a Bureau De Change and ask them to convert it for free as it is for charity. And it’s fucking cool to be allowed to speak over the tannoy system on a plane.
L.S: I would take more food. I think going in a pair was good, and being boy/girl too. Felt a lot safer.
Other advice we learnt along the way:
• Avoid Kilmarnock, Newcastle & backwater villages
• Be polite but don’t be afraid to be a bit cheeky – you have to ask to get anything, after all
• Don’t do anything stupid and remember to abide by the laws of any country you visit
• Take emergency rations, you don’t know where you’ll be when you get hungry
• Try to raise money along the way, either for charity or for travel tickets (but don’t pretend it’s for charity then buy tickets, that’s not cool).
• Ferries seem to be the best way to mainland Europe
• If you’re blagging your way try get written confirmation, the next train/bus conductor may not believe you quite so readily
Jailbreak starts on the 22nd of February & applications are available from the QM reception. Bon voyage!