Travel world records that you can break – on a budget

Tuk tuk travel world records

It’s not enough for some people to just see the world. People of a certain inclination feel compelled to break travel world records by doing stuff in faster, longer, crazier, painfulier ways.

These records vary wildly in the time, resources and expenses they require. On the low(er) end, two English guys puttered across 39 countries on five continents to break the world’s record for longest tuk-tuk ride.

At the other extreme, Richard “Dick” Branson and Jeff “Massive Dick” Bezos both just spent many billions of dollars to get themselves almost to space. [Insert the 10,000,004 ways that money could have been spent for the betterment of humanity here.]

As in almost every blog post, I don’t mean to brag, but I’d like to shamelessly brag about my rather badass, thus far unrecognized world record for “Most countries visited without vomiting,” which currently stands at 56 over an uninterrupted 28-year period. It would be 57 countries if not for an extravagant case of food poisoning in Essaouira, Morocco in 1993. That was the same week I coined the phrase “double eject,” if you catch my meaning.

By the way, the saga of my last vom, among other hijinks, is immortalized in my recent ebook “The First (Failed) Travel Food Show.”

All this liveliness and debatable sanity isn’t really a surprise being that the urge to break world records transcends all activities and disciplines, so why not travel world records?

With unlimited time and money, one could conceivably break just about any travel world record, but what about those of us with limited funds and therapists to steer us away from such lunacy? Here are a few low-budget records that anyone with enough resolve and/or superior cardiovascular conditioning could break.

~ Travel world records mere mortals can break ~

Tube Challenge

All one really needs here is obsessive organizational abilities, above average running stamina and some luck. The goal is simple: visit all 270 stations in the London Underground network in the shortest amount of time.

Key to this, and why running stamina is important, is that one is allowed to connect between stations on foot and/or other forms of public transport (no bikes or private cars).

The current record was set on May 21, 2015, by Andi James (Finland) and Steve Wilson (UK), who completed the challenge in a scorching 15 hours, 45 minutes and 38 seconds. That’s an average of one Tube station visit every 3.5 minutes.

Greatest distance traveled on a scooter in 24 hours

No sweat. Rent a scooter, pack a bag of Snickers and Red Bull, ride to the top of the tallest mountain on the continent, turn around and start the timer.

For the moment, this record is held by siblings Jason Chalmers and Tamlyn Locke who each rode stock PGO X-Hot 125cc scooters from Johannesburg, South Africa to Majtiesfontein in the Western Cape, a distance of 1176.9 kms (735.5 miles). They were plagued by technical problems and road construction slow downs, so this record is definitely in jeopardy with some careful planning.

If a 125cc scooter is out of your price range, you can opt for the more modest 50cc scooter record currently held by Australian Julio Languviller who drove a Honda Today 809 kms (503 miles) in 24 hours.

And those of you with a rock-bottom budget can shoot for the kick/push scooter record, currently held by a relay team of people calling themselves “The Night Razors,” who travelled 553 kms (343.6 miles) in 24 hours.

There’s a same-same-but-different record set by a group representing the Seeds of Peace Camp in Portland, Maine, but they were allowed to ride multiple scooters simultaneously for some reason, which is how they racked up a cumulative 2,624 kms (1,630 miles) in 24 hours.

Greatest distance traveled by train in 24 hours

If the tedium of keeping a scooter upright at slow speeds for 24 hours seems too ambitious, this low-impact record could be yours for the taking. The current record was recently set by Yang Yongdan in China, who travelled 5,412.76 kms (3,363.33 miles) on 9-10 April, 2021. He started at Guiyang North Station and finished at Guangzhou South Station.

The main caveat for this one is that you’re not allowed to duplicate any part of the journey, so finding a large country with a robust high-speed rail network is key.

Attend the biggest New Year party

The best part about this one is that all you have to do is show up and have a good time. The current record was set on Jan 1, 2008 on and around Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Officials calculated that more than four million people attended these festivities, which included a fireworks display that lasted nearly 20 minutes. Let me know if you decide to actually plan the world’s biggest party. I’ll bring dip.

None of these are travel-related, but those with a limited budget and a strict BYOB policy, you can probably break the world records for the largest hot chocolate party, largest potluck party, largest pizza party, or the largest toga party.

Fastest time to enter a suitcase

For some very small and/or flexible people, the tired joke of asking others to bring them on their trips in their suitcase is not entirely far-fetched. Acrobatic contortionist Leslie Tipton not only fits into a suitcase, but she’s a quick packer – of herself. She holds the world record for fastest time to climb into a suitcase and zip it shut, which she did in a nimble 5.43 seconds.

Travel world records: Fastest cycling across Canada

A lot of travel world records require independent wealth, years of planning and/or demoralizing corporate sponsorship, but this particular record should be breakable for anyone with a superior level of fitness, some banked vacation time and maniacal amounts of determination.

This record seems to get broken quite frequently. At time of writing, the trans-Canada cycling record (a distance of 5,747 kilometers or 3,571 miles) is held by Chris Bruckner, with a time of 13 days, three hours and 49 minutes, which is about three hours faster than the previous record. Bruckner cycled his way into some pretty serious nerve damage while setting this record, so maybe have a physical therapist standing by.

Most countries visited by car

There are two sub-categories of travel world records here: All in one trip and all time.

The record for visiting the most countries using only one car over the course of several trips is held by Gunther Holtorf (Germany) who visited a whopping 180 countries over 26 years (1988 to 2014) in a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen.

The record for visiting the most countries in one continuous car journey is held by Jim Rogers and Paige Parker from the USA, who managed to hit 111 countries on six continents over three years, driving more than 152,000 miles in the process. They also opted for a (custom-built) Mercedes G-Wagen engine hiding beneath the body of a SLK convertible.

Tightest reverse parallel park

This is travel-related by only the most generous definition, but if you have a few cars you don’t mind potentially damaging, this one looks like a lot of fun.

And since budget-friendly, Guinness-recognized travel world records are so few in number, I’ve made up a few of my own:

Longest check-in at airport counter with 70 people waiting behind you

The current record is 23 minutes, held by an anonymous Egyptian woman that was right in front of me when I flew Minneapolis to Paris several years ago. She was traveling with her infirmed mother and they had seven suitcases between the two of them.

Some of the suitcases were over-weight, an issue she attended to by unpacking and repacking her bags right there at the check-in counter while we all waited.

Assuming you’re comfortable with the risk of being drawn and quartered by an angry mob at an airport, this an easily breakable world record.

Most consecutive hours sleeping on a public bus

Unaided by alcohol or pharmaceuticals of any kind, of course. One would be allowed grace periods of consciousness after hard stops, really loud noises and whatnot, but they must fall back to sleep within five minutes or they’re done. Not only would this be an admirable world record, I think this qualifies as a superpower.

Travel world records: Biggest tantrum over missed flight

Honestly, beating this lady will require award-winning acting skills and, in all probability, the willingness to be detained by security and then mental health officials for a couple days.

What travel world records would you like to break?