If you thought it was hard enough keeping track of the USD-Euro exchange rate, just try backpacking through Europe with nothing but 24 cans of Red Bull.
That's what three UT-Arlington students are up to, as of 5 a.m. on April 12, during an adventure-filled, week-long challenge produced by the energy drink company for its Red Bull TV channel. They've handed over their cash, cards and personal phones to face off against 164 teams from more than 50 countries on a 600 mile trek that ends in Paris on April 19. You can catch the kickoff of this season's Can You Make It? during a free watch party beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday night at The Grease Monkey near the UT-A campus in Arlington.
The sole Texas team in the competition, UT-Arlington's group goes by "The Crew," and they are among 18 teams from the United States that won spots from among 512 hopefuls by submitting an application video and garnering online votes earlier this year.
The Crew is made up of a Farhaj Mayan, a former Dubai underground club DJ turned finance major (who has a "strong knowledge base in robotics"); Eric Nguyen, a thrill junkie, amateur filmmaker and finance major; and Virginia "Gin" Simmons, a part-time model and scuba instructor who is studying marine biology.
Red Bull claims to "give you wings." In this case, that could mean a private jet.
That is, if teams are particularly adept at bartering their cans. During the first Can You Make It? challenge in 2014, teams charmed their way into car lifts from strangers, train tickets and flights -- not to mention other crazy trades like permission to skateboard through a Viennese airport, commemorative tattoos (for the cost of a single can of Red Bull) and luxurious dinners.
As for the overall challenge, each of the 165 competing teams sets out from one of five starting points -- Barcelona, Berlin, Prague, Edinburgh or Florence, where The Crew kicked off their journey. Our North Texas team will follow a route with checkpoints in Croatia, France and a few countries between, a rep says. Each day, they'll have to find food and places to sleep. To win the competition, they'll compete in scavenger hunt style "Body and Mind Challenges" and check tasks off an Adventure List to gain points. Traffic to their team page -- driven largely by social media -- will also add to the overall score.
All of the teams will converge in Paris at the end of the week and the one with the highest ranking wins the grand prize: The opportunity to spend the summer as a Contiki Travel Ambassador, leading other students through European adventures.