What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Around the world in 80 days - bookshelf inspiration

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. Here's how Around The World in 80 Days inspired this blog (and how books all to often inspire travel). This post is by Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).  

Have you guessed that this blog aroundbritainwithoutaplane is named after Jules Verne's classic book Around the World In 80 DaysI hadn't read the novel when I dreamt up my blog title, but during winter 2011-12 read it aloud with my then 10-year-old, Nell, and we found it fascinating. You can find copies easily in the library or secondhand shops - ideally choose one with illustrations, especially if you are reading it aloud to a child.

The main character, phlegmatic Phileas Fogg (who most of us know from the snack brand), is an insufferable bore who travels in the exact opposite to the way anyone should. He prefers the card game whist to views; timetables to experience. But his uncharacteristic comment: "I will bet £20,000 pounds that I will travel round the world in not more than 80 days," creates a marvellous novel (and, shhh, geography lesson).

Starting from Number 7 Savile Row, finishing at the Reform Club, P Fogg Esq plans to go:

  • From London to Suez (Egypt) (via Mont Cenis (the pass over the French Alps) and Brindisi (Italy)) by rail and steamer - 7 days
  • Suez to Bombay, by steamer - 13 days
  • Bombay to Calcutta, by rail - 3 days
  • Calcutta to Hong Kong, by steamer - 13 days
  • From Hong Kong to Yokohama (Japan's 2nd largest city), by steamer - 6 days
  • From Yokohama to San Francisco, by steamer - 22 days
  • From San Francisco to New York, by rail - 7 days
  • New York to Liverpool and on to London - by steamer and rail - 9 days.

Slow travel is actually quite fast, but it's expensive too. It costs Phileas Fogg close to £20,000 to make the journey (admittedly he travels in some style, and with at least one companion, his man-servant, the loyal Passepartout).

Just for the record, the cheapest round-the-wold air ticket I can find on offer in April 2012 is £749 but the flexibility is extremely limited and doesn't include any accommodation. Add on 80 days of food and beds (say £40 a day but no trips) and you need at least £4,000 to go around the world in a rushed three months.

Step into the great man's shoes (on a different route)
After a quick google I also found a copy-cat Phileas Fogg 80-day journey, see here, which costs £6,400 (and needs two people to be doing it). But what a journey, what an itinerary - completely organised for you with a complete disregard of the things that happen as you travel: lost purses, ill health, a desire to slow down and chat to people, and most of all weather...

Over to you
Jules Verne teaches us that travel cannot be micro-managed. He shows us how the unexpected turns up, and urges us to step in where wrongs need to be righted. He's half mocking the people who want around-the-world tickets, half luring us into buying them. Maybe this blog is doing the same for it's readers. For me, the blog writer, it's satisfying an insatiable desire to travel simply by looking for stay-at-home-but-feel-abroad experiences.

Let me know if it's helped.

1 comment:

nicolabairduk said...

From Facebook - many people are doing a quiz called how many countries have you been to? One friend, another Nicola, mentioned that she'd been to 39 out of 42 countries. This is how our conversation went:
Me: "It's lovely to travel but also rubbish for climate change, I've been trying to find places in the UK that give you a similar feel to a far-flung destination. Do have a look at my blog and tell me what you make of it."
Nicola: "Nicola - you are absolutely right (in my defence I did well over half of my countries overland in 3 big trips!!). You demonstrate very well that there are loads of great things to do without going abroad - and actually I think the kids prefer not to fly anyway! this year we are biking and canoeing our way across the lake district and western scotland so should be a fairly low carbon holiday ;-)"