Jamie McDonald is a British adventurer.
Tell us about your latest adventure?
Travel tech company Travelport approached me about an epic challenge to put their modern retail platform, Travelport+, to the test. They wanted to prove its technology, [which compares travel routes and selects the best one for each traveller] would enable travel agency partners to plan, book and manage even the world’s most complex trip.
What was the trip?
I set a Guinness World Record for the fastest time to visit the new Seven Wonders of the World, achieved in six days, 16 hours, and 14 minutes, using only public transport. It required 16 taxis, nine buses, four trains and one toboggan to cover 22,856 miles. There were 43 different types of public transport that needed to go right. The entire itinerary was planned and when I missed a flight, the travel agent got me on the next available one without me losing too much time.
I was pinching myself that I’d get to see the world like this, it was such an experience and it’s an amazing feeling to accomplish these world records.
Which of the Seven Modern Wonders was your favourite?
Machu Picchu, an Incan citadel nearly 8,000 feet above sea level. It was the most magical, and the most challenging to reach. I was out of breath and had altitude sickness. I plan to return one day with my children. I even bought a stuffed llama toy to bring back for my daughter, as I’d promised her a gift.
And favourite mode of transport?
Riding the toboggan downhill from the Great Wall of China was exhilarating. It was my first time and as this was the first Wonder visit, I was especially excited to continue the journey.
Any tips for fellow adventurers?
When you’re attempting to set a world record, speed and agility are key. With travel, there are so many variables – weather, delays, customs, traffic, cancellations, you name it. You must plan, plan and plan some more – and get a travel agent. Despite all of the technology apps and tools that make it seem easy to book and manage a trip like this yourself, the extra human-led support is such a game-changer.
You’re also known as Adventureman. Why?
During my 5,000-mile solo run across Canada, I wore a superhero suit for a couple of weeks to help with fundraising. One of the kids drew me my own superhero suit and Adventureman was born. The goal is to inspire others, and remind children that we can accomplish anything. Having been a sick kid myself, I’m always trying to give back and raise money through the Superhero Foundation.
Is it hard to settle back into reality after an adventure?
‘Post adventure blues’ is a real thing. It took a couple of weeks to settle back into normality and be okay with not seeking out some of the world’s best locations. At the same time, readjusting to home life is always great because my children keep my wife and I busy.
Is it difficult to travel with equipment?
Not really, I didn’t have much at all, just one bag. I try to keep it minimal and only take very necessary items.
How do you go about travelling in a country where you don’t know the language?
It is possible, and especially helpful to do it working with firms like Travelbag and Travelport. I had around-the-clock access to a dedicated travel specialist who, on my request, tracked evolving travel restrictions, identified schedule changes, and made necessary tweaks to his itinerary in real time. While I did not always speak the local language, their support helped ensure I did not run into any issues where language barriers could have proposed issues.
What’s been your most rewarding travel experience?
Running across Canada. People kept taking me in and offering to help me along the way. It restored my faith in humanity.
And most challenging?
Also running across Canada. The most difficult roads can also be the most rewarding.
What’s your dream destination?
Alaska, it looks like it would be a wild adventure!
What’s your indispensable travel gadget?
An old school map, you can’t beat them!
And inflight entertainment pick?
Snatch – the best British movie.
What’s next for Adventureman?
Getting back to my 2.5-year-old daughter and 7-month-old twins, they are my greatest challenge yet.