The Great Escape: 36 hours, no money, no limits. How far will you get?

The Great Escape programme involves raising as much money as you can prior your travel date, all the money of which will go to a charity in partnership with the Enactus organisation here at the University of Nottingham (UoN). Over the weekend of travel, (18-19th or 25-26th March) the fundraising starts again for your own trip, where you have only 36 hours to get as far out of England as you can.

The programme is the perfect travel opportunity and will prepare you well for any other student-planned holidays. Firstly, The Great Escape gives you the opportunity to make spontaneous decisions about going abroad, which is beneficial as last minute plans often mean low prices! It’s also a good attitude to have, especially if inter-railing across Europe appeals to you. Secondly, fundraising for your trip gives you an insight into how much work needs to be done in order to achieve your holiday plans. So if attending a project-based charity trip is something you may be interested in, later on, The Great Escape is a great practice run!

Another way in which The Great Escape is a perfect travelling opportunity is that they even offer prizes which can aid your travel plans even more! The group that raises the most money for charity gets a fast-track plane ticket abroad on the weekend, and the furthest you manage to travel can result in you winning another trip abroad. Last year, a group won a city break to Barcelona!

Although the travel opportunities are endless on this programme, for organised and stressful students like myself, having to fund a trip last minute and make spontaneous plans, is very daunting. Therefore, I asked programme organiser Jemima Young a few questions which should ease your worries.

How safe is the event?

“There has never been an issue with people taking part. It is an adventure, yes, but if people use their everyday logic there is no reason why the event would be unsafe. Just be sensible!”

What is the record for the furthest travelled group?

“The record for Nottingham is the Canary Islands, along with Italy and Turkey. However, other universities have made it further, such as Exeter travelling to New York last week. There is no limit!”

What charities does the money go to?

“Both local and international charities! Some include our flagship enterprise, employing disadvantaged adults to up-cycle waste furniture in Nottingham. International ones include Bottle by Bottle, which develops sustainable housing out of recycled materials.”

In a travelling sense, what would you say are the main benefits of taking part?

“It’s a unique chance for adventure on a student budget. No two stories are ever the same, and with so many people escaping the UK people always have a great time. It’s something to make you stand out, especially as you have to get out fast without spending any of your own money.”

How would you recommend raising the most money?

“Donations from family and friends are always a good starting point. You can also speak to supermarkets about bag packing. On the day to fund your journey, dress up having big signs saying what you’re trying to do, people love getting involves with fun ideas!”

What is your advice for making the most of the travel experience on such a low budget?

“ENJOY IT! It’s not often you can travel in such as a spontaneous and fun way for so little money. Keep an eye online as they often have cheap flight and bus deals to get you out of the country. The more money you save on travelling there the more you can spend whilst you are abroad!”

Emma Heasman 

Images courtesy of The Great Escape

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