A college student from Boston got a free vacation to a British island after joining the wrong Facebook group.
Joe Hill accidentally became a member of the social media page “Good or Bad Jersey Businesses” several years ago. While he isn’t sure how it happened, he assumed the page was about the U.S. state. “I decided, well, might as well learn more about New Jersey,” he told the Boston Globe.
But after a while, Hill started to notice other members using British slang and later discovered the Facebook group was actually about the small island, Jersey, in the English Channel.
Upon realizing his mistake, Hill posted a funny message to the group in October 2017, admitting the mix-up. “This is my favorite Facebook group. I've been in it for 4 years now and live in North America. Idk how I ended up in here but I had previously never heard of Jersey and still only have the foggiest idea of where it is. But if anyone ever asks me I can tell them where not to get their car fixed in Jersey,” Hill wrote.
His post was a hit with the other members, receiving 1,500 likes, 356 comments, and 59 shares. Hill said he tried to leave the group several times, but kept getting added back. "After a while I had grown too fond of the group to want to leave," Hill told SWNS.
Shortly after admitting his mistake to the group, a Jersey resident named Alex Dolan started a GoFundMe page to raise enough money to fly Hill and his girlfriend to the island for a visit. It took less than a week to raise the 1,200 pounds (about $1,677), Dolan told the Globe.
“As many of you may know, Joe Hill (A.K.A. the accidental tourist) recently accidentally stumbled upon our beautiful island through the thoroughly local review site 'Good or Bad Jersey Business,'” Dolan wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Since then Joe has become somewhat of a local celebrity and the good people of Jersey have spoken in favour of inviting him over to show him, his girlfriend and of course the people of the world what this stunning slice of paradise has to offer with promise of free food, wine, accommodation and finding out what #TheIslandBreak really means.”
Dolan hosted Hill and his girlfriend in a hotel he owns, and other locals joined in, offering the “accidental tourists” free food, drinks and experiences. In fact, there were so many offers, Hill said they had to be “quite selective.” But the couple got to explore all the island has to offer, including beaches, cliffs, the cities, farms and lighthouses, the Globe reports.
“It feels like it was all a dream. We are definitely planning to return. We really loved this country and the people there who made it feel like home, and we can’t wait to go back...perhaps for good,” Hill, who had never traveled outside the U.S. before, told SWNS. "Everyone that we met came off as welcoming and authentic. We really sincerely enjoyed meeting everyone that we encountered in Jersey. We didn’t have a single negative experience or encounter throughout our trip, and even now, it really just seems like it was all too good to be true."
Hill and his girlfriend plan on hosting Dolan and his girlfriend in Boston soon.