Around The World In 80 Days was a novel originally written by Jules Verne, and published in 1873. At that time, it was considered fantastical science fiction; the idea that anyone could actually circumvent the entire globe in just 80 days was unrealistic.
Today, of course, things are very different, and if you’re just interested in crossing the globe, while taking in no sights at all, you can do it by plane in about 48 hours, not counting stops for refueling. Obviously, that’s no fun at all, and while you might beat the record of 80 days by several weeks, you wouldn’t have even a quarter of the fun and discovery that Phineas Fogg did when he made his fictional trip from London across the world.
So is it possible to travel around the world in 80 days in the 21st century? It certainly is. In fact, in 1988, British actor, writer and comedian Michael Palin tried it and succeeded in the BBC mini-series Michael Palin: Around The World In 80 Days. However, in this world of planes and trains, it’s not quite as easy as you may think.
The first thing you need to do if you’re seriously thinking of traveling around the world in 80 days is looking at your travel schedule. If you want to just enjoy the sights, you can travel by plane from destination to another, and spend a few leisurely days at every port of call before moving to the next. This is, by far, the easiest option to go with.
On the other hand, if you want to stick closer to the true spirit of the story and try to stick to an 80 day schedule while refusing to travel by air, then things get considerably more complicated. Depending on where you’re starting your trip, you’re going to have a few options for travel.
The Asian Start
For people that are living in Asia and beginning the journey from there, the easiest way to succeed is to take the opposite direction from the book, and travel from east to west. This is because you have many more overland options this way that can make the trip a bit easier. Travel by rail is still possible throughout much of Asia, which eventually connects to Europe.
The European Start
If you really want to do things traditionally, you can start in London, though any place from Europe is probably best undertaken the traditional way of traveling first from Europe through Asia by land. Many rail options exist, which also make your logistics easier, so the Europe/Asia portion of the journey shouldn’t be too difficult to organize.
The North American Start
The North American continent is a big place, but regardless of where you are, your best bet is to head east towards the Atlantic. Obviously the first leg of your journey is very easy by rail. When you get to the Atlantic, the Cunard cruise line in New York still supports a trans-Atlantic trip.
Here’s where the real challenge lies. No passenger ships travel across the entire Pacific ocean, so if you’re bound and determined to avoid using a plane, you’ll have no choice but to book passage on a cargo ship, which actually IS possible!
You’re obviously not going to be treated to first class passenger privileges, but you’d surprised at how comfortable—and spacious!—cabins can be for people that pay to travel on a cargo ship. You’ll be at the mercy of the shipping schedule the cargo ship has, it’s a fascinating and educational journey on how modern freight works in today’s world.
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