#freeLEJOG: Ordinary Person Attempts Extraordinary Thing (Again)

Last year I conducted an experiment to see how cheap I could get a full complement of cycle touring gear together for — bike, camping gear, cooking gear, tools, and all the rest. The result? £25.17. (There’s a full write up here.)

Today, Part Two of that experiment begins.

Originally I was simply going to see how cheaply I could cycle across a country (using only the aforementioned no-budget touring bike to do so, of course) and write about it.

Then I had a better idea: to opt out of the financial economy altogether, and write about that instead.

With the exception of cheap train tickets to Penzance (this morning) and back from Scotland (in three weeks’ time), then, I will be spending the next 20 days cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats without any money whatsoever.

To make sure this actually happens, I’ll be leaving my wallet and all my bank cards on the kitchen table when I lock the door behind me.


This will not be a ‘kindness of strangers’ experiment. We already know strangers are kind. Instead, it’ll be a give-and-take experiment; a look at how we can help each other out, and do so spontaneously, rather than an exercise in begging for handouts in support of a ’cause’. In short, I’ll attempt to work for food for the full length of Britain. God knows how exactly this will work. But I won’t have much choice but to find a way, now, will I?

Truth be told, I’ve found money a highly stressful part of living since relocating to the UK with Tenny three years ago. I’m sure I’m not alone. And I’m hoping that by abandoning it for a while I’ll rediscover the point of money in the first place, which was surely nothing more than a physical object designed to insert a delay between giving someone something and receiving something else in return.

Is it still possible to directly trade time and skills for life’s essentials?

Let’s find out.

(I am, by the way, scared absolutely shitless.)

39 Responses to “#freeLEJOG: Ordinary Person Attempts Extraordinary Thing (Again)”

  1. Brian

    Best of luck to you, I would like to think you could still do the barter, and work for exchange, style of living! Look forward to hearing how you get on!

  2. Liz

    Good luck! Safe travels. Fingers crossed you get fed and watered in return for services rendered.

  3. Dan

    Wow that’s awesome, will you be allowing yourself to dumpster dive and truffle through the bins round the back of restaurants? If you get stuck, want a meal/bed give me a shout, I live in Plymouth, I may be around! Good luck 🙂

  4. Allysse

    Best of luck! I hope it will all turn out great 🙂
    I feel a little scared for you but somehow I’m sure you’ll be alright and that people will be wonderful in giving you work for food.

    I really look forward reading updates on this project.

  5. Pete

    A brave, brilliant idea, I think.

    Drop me an email if you’re passing through York, and I can provide food, a shower and somewhere to sleep for the night. While I’m perfectly happy just to be hospitable, if you insist on working/being helpful in some way, I’m sure we can work something out.

    All the best.

  6. Dave Baxter

    Well if your passing through Runcorn (a lot of Legogers do) then you can sleep and eat at our house. Be prepared for a 1000 questions though 🙂


  7. Jack Luke

    There’s a bed, food and a gazillion bike spares waiting for you in Crieff and if you feel obliged, some machinery to be moved into a new workshop 😉

  8. Zoe

    Fantastic! What a great challenge and adventure. Wishing you loads of luck and everything you need along the way… and if you end up in Lincolnshire (having gone the wrong way probably) then give me a shout over on twitter @Splodz and I’ll see what I can do to help.

  9. Chris

    This is awesome. I’m not surprised you’re scared shitless, but it will be really interesting to see how this unfolds… I wonder if there might be a fair bit of dishwashing?! Will be following with interest!

  10. Tracy

    *Love* it!! What an interesting experiment! Good luck, and thanks for including us 🙂

  11. Derek Cullen

    This is absolutely brilliant — I can see some jumping over walls for apples haha
    Can’t wait to see what happens Tom

  12. Roz

    At the risk of sounding like one of those really cheesy, inappropriate “come look at my blog” type comments, PLEASE take a look at an interview I recently did with a couple of adventurers who have been traveling in South America without money for the last year. I absolutely loved these two. Their ethos on life really challenged my beliefs about how much we need — or not. http://www.rozsavage.com/2014/04/24/adventure-podcast-32-anthony-manrique-and-emma-stevens-adventuring-without-money/

    • alex

      Roz, thanks for the information. I will be traveling by bicycle next year and I am looking to see who far I can get with the least amount of money. Thank you for posting these travelers n South America, and thank you Tom for bringing such a great topic and experiment for discussion and exposure.


  13. Dave Gill

    Incredible project Tom. This will be really interesting and quite fascinating, very excited to see what comes from it. I’m sure it’ll provide a bunch of stories, opportunities, new pals, memories and a renewed confidence in the goodness of people. Good luck!

  14. Bharath

    Amazing! And gutsy. I would like to drop off this red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalist economy myself for something gentler and more authentic, but don’t have the guts to do it. You’ve taken the first step already: BRAVO!

  15. Bob Andrews

    We are off to North Wales for a week. Spare bed already covered with clothes, freezer box etc. ATM raided. Desperate to see how you do!!

  16. Explorers Connect

    Brilliant! We’ll be cheering you all the way. Gutted we can’t camp out with you — if your dates change let us know

  17. Fraser

    Wow Tom! Sounds awesome and scary, but will surely be an unforgettable adventure.

    Best of luck, I’m already looking forward to reading how you get on.


  18. Sam(antha) Clifford

    I can provide bed and food in Princetown (Dartmoor)! Bonne route!

  19. Nigel

    Very much look forward to following you 🙂

  20. Mel

    Hi Tom
    We live just off the A30 on the edge of Dartmoor (in between Okehampton & Exeter) and you’d be very welcome to stay the night with us. Not sure what your timings are, but we have a free bed from tonight, depending on when you might arrive. Let me know! It’s lasagne for tea tonight…

  21. Steve J

    Bravest man I know of! If this was me I would probably get my bike stolen on day three and be starving to death by day six, but.… knowing you, you’ll probably come back richer than when you started, and with a better bicycle and three more wives, er„actually maybe not a good idea!
    Best of British as they say!

  22. Kirsty

    This is a great idea. Good luck!

    Are you any good at gardening? We’re not. There’s food and a bed in North Bristol available in return for some weeding and some story-telling.

  23. Kenny

    There’s a website that gives information about getting bikes for nothing: http://www.bikeforfree.net.

    Can’t wait to hear how this goes. Will you be couch surfing or attempting to camp wild? I somehow feel that if you’re couch surfing it’s a bit unfair unless you’re willing to put other people up at your own place in the future, or do something else for it.

  24. Penny

    Let me know if you need a place to crash in Leeds. I’ll cook you dinner in exchange for some help with my bike handle bars.

  25. Sue

    Go for it Tom. I am following your adventure on Twitter. You are a remarkable man.

  26. John Fike

    Bravo for going off the money economy. I applaud your effort and wish I could join you. We all need to do this more an more. I agree with you about the aggravations of money, but also share your anxiety about whether it can work or not. I’ll be watching closely in anticipation of your blog posts about how this is working out.

  27. Helen Moat

    Going through the Peak District? Food and a bed in exchange for help with a website?

  28. Verena

    There is a “time bank” in Northern Ireland, where you give your skill and can draw on soneone else’s skill in return.

  29. Chesh

    Best of luck Tom. Yet another lesson in humility, humanity, bravery and good old fashioned love for life. I wish you well.

  30. Oliver

    Absolutely intriguing challenge, best of luck Tom! I really hope life will not only pen an amazing story into your very own book, but also another remarkable lesson that shared may become inspiration for other(s) adventures… 😉 Take care!

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  32. James

    Interesting challenge.
    Do you intend to hunt? A catapult (slingshot) will fit in your handlebar bag I’m considering mounting it on my frame itself. Its easy to pop a startled phesant when you cycle past.

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