It took the hero of  Jules Verne’s 1873 novel ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ exactly that amount of time to circumnavigate the globe. Phileas Fogg leaves London on 21 December 1872, accompanied by his manservant Passepartout and arrives back in the British capital after what he first believes to be 81 days; but having crossed the International Date Line and thus having gained one day, Fogg still manages to win the bet – £20,000.

The bet was to prove that the completion of a new railtrack in India made it possible to travel around the Earth in four score days. The advent of air travel in the early twentieth century obviously would diminish the travel time required for such a feat – the current record for fastest circumnavigation still stands at 32 hours, 49 minutes and 3 seconds (set in 1992 by an Air France Concorde).

It’s still possible to travel around the world without airborne transportation, of course. And here also the travel times have greatly diminished since Phileas Fogg’s era. This map is a proposal for a round the world trip, only travelling by boat and train (as Fogg did), starting at and ending in New York. The trip would only take 42 days. Here’s the itinerary:

  • New York – Chicago (train)
  • Chicago – Seattle (train)
  • Seattle – Vancouver (bus – granted, there were no buses either in Fogg’s time)
  • Vancouver – Anchorage – Tokyo (boat)
  • Tokyo – Osaka (train)
  • Osaka – Shanghai (boat)
  • Shanghai – Beijing (train)
  • Beijing – Moscow (train)
  • Moscow – Brussels (train)
  • Brussels – London (train)
  • London – New York (boat)

The longest leg of the trip would be the freighter line from Vancouver to Tokyo via Anchorage (13 days), the most expensive one would be the London to New York boat tyrip on board the Queen Mary 2 ($2,449).

In total, the trip would cost $5,312 (which converts to about £2,900 in today’s money). This map, found here on Very Small Array, an excellent map/infographic-oriented website, dates from 5 May 2005. Be warned that current prices may differ. And send a postcard.