You have no money, no phone, and no wallet. You’re plopped in the middle of Europe with seven days to get to Amsterdam and your only form of currency also happens to be your favorite study buddy: Red Bull. Lucky for the Bayou Krewe, this turned into their reality. Tulane seniors Jeff Nagler, Nick Feichtel, and Ethan Gasta took on the Red Bull “Can You Make It Challenge” to see if they had what it takes to trade an energy drink for basic life necessities.
Q: What is the Red Bull “Can You Make It Challenge”?
JN: We went from Stockholm, Sweden to Amsterdam over seven days using only Red Bull as currency. We couldn’t use our phones, we couldn’t use our wallets, we couldn’t use any outside help, we just had to be creative and hope people were nice enough to help us out or trade Red Bull with us.
NF: We also had to stop at six checkpoint cities along the way.
Q: How did you get to and from the cities?
EG: Various means of transportation.
Q: Was Red Bull all you were allowed to use to get from Point A to Point B?
EG: We had like three main ways to convince people: it was the Red Bull, we also had for business we sort of marketed it as “we can promote your business” because we had a large social media following and a chance to be promoted on Red Bull TV, which gets half a million views everyday. We also had these business cards from Red Bull that we could pass out and people could help us along the way if they took a picture with us and put a certain hashtag; then they were put into a raffle to win the same prize that we were competing for.
Q: How did you go about obtaining food?
NF: Food was probably our lowest priority in terms of everything else we had to worry about!
EG: We didn’t really worry that much about food because we had some protein bars that were high in calories that were our last resort. We tried to find accommodation and travel first and if we had time, we’d try to find food. We only had four or five actual meals—with three on the last day alone.
Q: How many countries did you go through?
NF: We went through five. There was no minimum number that we had to go through, but there was a minimum of checkpoints that we had to go through. There were 53 checkpoints that we could go to and we had to hit a minimum of six, and we hit six.
EG: It was tough coming from Stockholm to hit more than six or seven. It was very challenging to get more than six because of transportation. We know a lot of teams who did hit more than six, but their main way of getting there was hopping on a train and hoping they don’t check your ticket or trying to convince the conductor to let them stay on, and we weren’t as daring because we didn’t want to get fined or anything like that. We tried to play it safe.
NF: We could have gone to more because we arrived in Amsterdam a day early.
EG: I was sort of holding everyone back because I had to go home early for a school thing at Tulane and my professor said if I wasn’t here for it, my grade would be penalized. So I was pushing that we just really get to Amsterdam. Without that, we probably could have hit some more checkpoints but we played it safe at my expense.
Q: How did you guys get caught up in this? How did you find it? How did you enter?
JN: I just had heard about it in the past, and then one random night I looked it up just to see if they still do this and if the deadline for applications had already passed and it hadn’t. Nick and Ethan walked in the door and I asked if they wanted to do this thing and they both said sure.
EG: We all live together and we were the first people to say yes!
JN: We made a video, got selected, and competed.
Q: How many other teams were there?
JN: 3,000 worldwide teams applied, and 201 actually participated.
Q: What did you guys place?
EG: We were hovering around the 40s/ 50s for a while, but once we got to Amsterdam we stopped doing the challenges as much and stopped pushing ourselves as hard. Only the top two teams get rewards and we wanted to just enjoy our time in Amsterdam, so we got knocked down a lot after that.
NF: After the first three hours, we were ranked #3 for a little while.
Q: Did you guys ever run into any problems?
EG: That was the definition of the whole trip: you wake up and what’s on your mind is, “I have no idea how we’re going to get to our next location that we have to get to today, I have no idea where we’re going to sleep, I have no idea what we’re going to eat, I have no idea how we’re going to get around.” You wake up and those are the problems for the day and you’re trying to solve them for pretty much the rest of the day. We would be in train stations and airports and bus stations asking people for hours and trying to get stuff but I don’t know if there were any big main problems besides those daily ones.
JN: The worst one was when we were hitchhiking for five hours but again, that was just a travel problem. We were trying to get out of Oldenburg, Germany, which is a really small town as it is and we met some nice people who drove us 20km outside the city. We were really in the middle of nowhere and we were at a truck stop just hitchhiking for five hours.
EG: It was right off of a highway, so a lot of trucks should have been passing through going towards our next destination. We got there and in the first five minutes we talked to a trucker who said we weren’t going to have a lot of luck because it was a Sunday and no truckers move on Sundays.
Q: Would you ever do it again?
NF: While this was an amazing experience, going back through Europe without any form of currency except for Red Bull is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.
All in all, it seems that the Bayou Krewe made the most of their weeklong, money free trip exploring Europe. Despite making 85th place, they had the opportunity to do something just about no one else has the ability to participate in. While they may not be attempting this challenge again any time soon, they encourage anyone else interested to give it a try by applying at https://canyoumakeit.redbull.com like they did a few months back!